State after state called upon the UAE to better protect the right to free expression and to ensure that torture stopped during this year’s UPR review, yet the UAE continued its sustained assault on expression, speech and association, and directed proxy forces that have arbitrarily detained, disappeared and tortured men and boys in Yemen.
The UAE’s treatment of Ahmed Mansoor is a stark reminder that the UAE remains more committed to repression than reform. Just a month ago, Mansoor, an award-winning Emirati rights defender, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for charges related to his activism. United Nations Special Procedures described, Mansoor’s arrest as “a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE.”
Others in the UAE who speak out about human rights abuses remain at serious risk of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture, and many are serving long prison terms or have felt compelled to leave the country. The UAE’s repressive cybercrime law remains on the books, despite numerous UPR recommendations calling for its amendment.
During the UPR review, the UAE emphasized efforts made to provide “humanitarian assistance” and “protect civilians.” Yet, since 2015, the UAE has played a leading role in the Saudi-led coalition that has indiscriminately bombed schools, homes and markets in Yemen, blocked aid, and used widely banned weapons like cluster munitions. The UAE funds, trains and directs proxy forces which have arbitrarily detained, disappeared and brutally mistreated men and boys in Yemen. They run prisons where many have been disappeared and reported horrific abuse. Now, as this Council meets, the UAE is pushing forward the coalition’s offensive on Hodeida, Yemen’s key port, with reports of civilians killed just this week in additional coalition airstrikes. Activists in Yemen who have criticized the UAE’s actions in their country have been subject to slander campaigns, threatened, harassed and detained.
The UAE has not only failed to implement states’ recommendations, but continues to brazenly flout international rules, and to detain, threaten, harass and condemn those activists—at home and abroad—who call for real reform and rights protection.