[Geneva, Switzerland – September, 2023] — The 54th session of the Human Rights Council, currently convened in Geneva from September 11 to October 13, 2023, presents a unique opportunity for nations around the world to address pressing issues of human rights. We urgently call upon all members of the Human Rights Council to prioritize the discussion of human rights violations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the same intensity and commitment as they approach similar concerns in other nations.
The UAE, as a member of the Human Rights Council, must be held accountable for its actions. In September 2021, UAE authorities designated four prominent exiled Emirati dissidents as “terrorism” supporters, a move that raises serious concerns about the violation of fundamental rights and disregard for the rule of law:
1. Hamad al-Shamsi
2. Mohammed Saqr al-Zaabi
3. Ahmed al-Shaiba al-Nuaimi
4. Saeed al-Tenaiji
The immediate consequences of this designation included asset freezes, property confiscations, and criminalization of their UAE-based relatives’ communications with them. Families of these dissidents were also threatened with prosecution for merely “communicating with terrorists.” Shockingly, these dissidents learned of their designation only after the Cabinet of Ministers issued the decision.
These four Emirati dissidents are part of the UAE94, a group of 94 political activists accused of crimes against national security in 2013 based on their peaceful statements and affiliations. None of them have attempted to challenge their designations as terrorism supporters due to a lack of faith in a fair legal process, as they were convicted in absentia.
All four are in self-imposed exile, where they have reported various forms of harassment directed at their family members in the UAE. This harassment includes travel bans, active surveillance, restrictions on basic rights such as employment and education, and even passport revocations. There is also a legitimate concern that the UAE may issue specious Interpol red notices against them, given the UAE interior ministry official’s candidacy for the presidency of Interpol.
The Human Rights Council, during this crucial session, must demand accountability from the UAE authorities. We urge all members to:
1. Call upon the UAE to immediately cease using its abusive counterterrorism regulations to persecute dissidents and human rights defenders.
2. Ensure that everyone in the UAE has the right to a fair trial, including the presumption of innocence.
3. Demand the immediate removal of terrorism designations from the four prominent Emirati dissidents.
It is the responsibility of the Human Rights Council to uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and human rights for all individuals, regardless of their nationality. The UAE’s actions cannot be overlooked, and addressing these violations is paramount to safeguarding fundamental rights and freedoms.