U.N. Experts Slam UAE over Arrest of Award-Winning Activist


U.N. experts warned Tuesday that the United Arab Emirates' arrest of an award-winning rights activist violated international law, and demanded his immediate release.

UAE authorities ordered the arrest of Ahmed Mansoor just over a week ago, accusing him of using social media platforms to "sow sedition, sectarianism and hatred," according to the official WAM news agency.

The U.N. working groups on arbitrary detention and on enforced disappearances, along with the U.N.'s top experts on human rights defenders, freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly and association, disputed that there were any legitimate grounds for the arrest.

"We regard Mr. Mansoor's arrest and detention as a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE," they said in a statement.

They warned that his arrest on March 20 and detention in an unknown location since then "may constitute an act of reprisal" for his work with U.N. human rights bodies, for his statements on social media and for being an active member and supporter of rights organizations like Human Rights Watch.

They also cautioned that "the fact that Mr. Mansoor is being held in an unknown location puts him at serious risk of ill-treatment and torture."

"The lack of an arrest warrant or any judicial oversight of his arrest and detention represents a breach of fundamental principles of due process under international human rights law," they said.

The experts called on the UAE authorities to halt all "harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders" and to respect the right to freedom of expression, including on social media.

Mansoor, a 47-year-old father of four, won the 2015 Martin Ennals award, often dubbed the Nobel prize for human rights, for his efforts to introduce greater political and civil rights in the UAE.

The award was named after the former secretary general of Amnesty International, and is given to human rights defenders who show deep commitment to their cause despite huge personal risk.

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