UN experts call on UAE to release detained activist

A group of UN experts on Tuesday called on the United Arab Emirates to immediately release a leading human rights activist, saying his arrest was a “direct attack” on the work of rights defenders.

Three independent experts with the UN human rights office in Geneva also demanded information about the whereabouts of Ahmed Mansoor, saying his secret detention in the UAE puts him at the risk of ill-treatment and torture.

Ahmed Mansoor, who was awarded the 2015 Laureate Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, was arrested by police in Dubai on March 20 and transported to an unknown location.

Sources suggest the rights activist was arrested shortly after signing a letter addressed to the Arab League summit, “calling to release prisoners of conscience and promote and protect human rights in the Arab world”.

Mansoor has previously been detained by UAE authorities for his work promoting human rights and was placed under a travel ban by authorities.

The Emirates Centre for Human Rights accused the UAE of launching “a new assault on freedom of expression” at the time of Mansoor’s arrest, whilst Human Rights Watch’s Nicholas McGeehan the activist’s detention as “gut wrenching”.

In November, Human Rights Watch said GCC states have deployed surveillance technology to track and monitor citizens’ online activity since the Arab uprisings of 2011.

This software can enable a government to access emails, text messages and potentially passwords, and can allow authorities to turn on a phone or laptop’s camera and microphone to take pictures or record video and conversations without the owner’s knowledge, research by Citizen Lab found.

All GCC States have also expanded existing legislation and announced new laws which further curtail free expression and punish free speech they deem “criminal”