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Side Event on Bahrain at HRC41: Patterns of Abuse in Oman and the UAE

3 July 2019 – Right now, People for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain hosted a aspect event at the 41st session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC). The event was co-sponsored by CIVICUS, the Committee to Shield Journalists, English Pen, Frontline Defenders, Worldwide Centre for Justice and Human Rights, International Marketing campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates, the Omani Centre for Human Rights, MENA Rights Group, and Rafto.

The panel was moderated by Tyler Pry, Advocacy Officer at ADHRB, and featured remarks by Imene Ben Younes of the Worldwide Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR); Sofia Kaltenbrunner of Worldwide Marketing campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates (ICFUAE); Clara Sanchez Lopez, Advocacy Volunteer at People for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB); and Nabhan Al Hanashi from the Omani Centre for Human Rights (OCHR).

Tyler Pry opened the panel by noting that abuses in the UAE and Oman have largely gone underreported – even when discussing human rights abuses in Yemen, the conversation sometimes surrounds the position of Saudi Arabia in airstrikes, quite than the UAE on the ground and notably in the prisons. He famous that the UAE is an “equal partner” in the conflict in Yemen, chargeable for widespread human rights violations, together with arbitrary detention, torture, and sexual torture, rising to the degree of warfare crimes. Even when rights abuses are mentioned in the context of the UAE, it is typically targeted on Yemen, and utterly ignores domestic abuses perpetrated.

Pry famous that while there’s a rising recognition of the “dismal human rights record” of the UAE, the state of affairs in Oman stays very much off the map. He noted hopes to draw consideration to the state of affairs there and reveal that there are comparable widespread and systemic abuses throughout the Gulf Cooperation Council states, from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, the UAE, and Oman. Pry then introduced the panelists and turned the discussion over to them.

Imene Ben Younes, human rights officer at ICJHR, expressed her concern on the use of antiterrorism laws in the UAE to repress dissent, silence opposition and prohibit freedom of expression. She famous that in the UAE, free expression might be thought-about a terrorist offense, as the laws clearly goal anybody criticizing authorities, and they danger being imprisoned. On this regard, criticism of the authorities is included in the extensive definition of terrorist threats. Younes also famous the use of administrative detention as a device Emirati authorities have been using since 2014 to detain and prosecute whoever might characterize a “terrorist” menace. Younes explained that, beneath the regime of administrative detention, every case must be reviewed each three months to determine if confirming the detention or liberating the individual in charge; but the regulation permits authorities to extend indefinitely detention circumstances. As explained by Younes, such an arbitrary strategy is of nice concern for the respect of human rights in the UAE.

She famous that there are at least eight instances reported underneath this administrative detention. One of these people, Osama Al Najjar, was sentenced to 3 years in prison for cooperating with the UN and notably UN Special Procedures. In the UAE, this type of behaviour represents a menace to nationwide security (in response to the authorities) and, subsequently, it’s dealt with accordingly. She famous that Osama served his sentence, but because he was thought-about a “threat,” his detention was systematically extended, noting that no prisoners of conscience has been launched. Different prisoners of conscience could also be quickly positioned in administrative detention, so that Emirati authorities can use this legal device to extend detention circumstances indefinitely. Younes concluded her remarks by reaffirming that in the UAE if someone criticizes the authorities is placed in an indefinite circumstances of imprisonment. Subsequently, the only strategy to keep away from jail is aligning with the authorities and the official view. In closing, Younes asked states to strain the UAE to vary their practices, notably to amend the anti-terrorism regulation.

Sofia Kaltenbrunner of ICFUAE defined that the Cybercrime regulation prosecutes customers of info know-how corresponding to blogs and social media platforms to arrange demonstrations, including that the Cybercrime regulation place restrictions on the proper to freedom of expression and meeting. Kaltenbrunner famous that the Cybercrime regulation consists of life sentences for customers of social media who oppose the authorities or who criticize the government.

Kaltenbrunner said that in 2012, many people have been arrested, which disproportionately affected human rights defenders. One such defender is Ahmed Mansoor, who was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment  for “defaming the UAE,” with the Supreme Courtroom upholding his sentence in December 2018. She also famous the case of Nasser bin Ghaith, who in 2017 was sentenced on fees of publishing false info to negatively affect the status of the UAE. Kaltenbrunner noted that the Cybercrime regulation came into drive proper around the time of the arrest and trial of the “UAE 94.” Kaltenbrunner concluded by calling on members of the Council to urge the UAE to amend the cyber crime regulation and release all human rights defenders.

Clara Sanchez Lopez, Advocacy Volunteer at ADHRB, explained that the United Arab Emirates commonly and systematically targets critics of the authorities by means of a spread of mechanisms, together with its cybercrime regulation. She noted that the victims of this repression usually are not solely men and male human rights defenders and activists, but ladies and ladies rights activists. She underlined that stories from Reprieve and Amnesty Worldwide have found that among the types of torture Emirati safety officials use are beatings, electric shocks, and solitary confinement. Lopez additionally emphasised the case of Ahmed Mansoor, one of the greatest recognized human rights defenders and activists in the UAE, arrested in 2015, spent a lot of its detention in solitary confinement, the prolonged use of which is a type of torture. Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith, an economist and activist, arrested in the similar yr, was held in a secret location, physically tortured, crushed and deprived of sleep for up to every week. These are only two examples of a system-wide concern. Lopez additionally defined that after its army engagement in the Yemeni conflict, UAE was immediately concerned in systematic abuses across its borders: the Group of Eminent Specialists report on the violence in Yemen finds that: detainees have been tortured in at least two amenities controlled by the UAE; and in other amenities managed by militias heavily backed by the UAE. At the Bureiqa facility in specific, the GEE investigated sexual violence, including the rape of male detainees.

Then, Lopez targeted on Oman, explaining that in analyzing the state of affairs of human rights in the Gulf area, Oman often gets little attention. However, restrictions on the right to free expression, association, and meeting, and the detention of human rights defenders and journalists in this country deserve nice consideration. She explained that beneath Omani regulation, the authorities can censor any publications deemed culturally, sexually, or politically offensive. In consequence, journalists from the Azamn magazine have been incarcerated for publishing a report criticizing Oman’s judicial system. Along with closing information retailers, Omani officials have arrested journalist Abdullah Habib, on expenses concerning “state public order,” Yousef al-Haj of Azamn, internet activist, and Mansour al-Mahrazi, who revealed two books on government corruption and who was, in consequence, sentenced to 3 years in jail in Might 2017. Hassan Al-Basham, an internet activist, was targeted and sentenced to 3 years in prison for “using the internet in what might be prejudicial to religious values” and “insulting the Sultan.” Just like other journalists and activists’ state of affairs, Al-Basham was disadvantaged of primary medical provides in jail and died in jail in April 2018 as a consequence of a scarcity of medical care offered by prison authorities. She concluded by urging the Council to put the UAE and Oman on its radar and to take motion earlier than the state of affairs in either states worsens.

Nabhan Al Hanashi, director of the Omani Centre for Human Rights, defined that human rights activists are always underneath menace in Oman and that respect for human rights continues to deteriorate in the nation. He said that Oman is a monarchy with absolute energy in the palms of the monarch. In this country criticizing the regime or the authorities performance is a criminal offense which is punished harshly. Al Hanashi said that in the previous couple of years many social activists have been arrested and their houses demolished as a result of of their political activism or civic engagement for political change and democracy. He additionally underlined that peaceful meeting is forbidden by Omani legal guidelines and the creation of political parties or human rights organizations shouldn’t be allowed.

Then, Al Hanashi gave area to Khalfan Al-Badwawi, an Omani political activist who lives presently in England, as a political refugee. He said that Omani authorities arrested and kidnapped him on several events as a consequence of his political activities. His comments targeted on the follow of enforced disappearance to silence dissent and criticism of the Omani rulers. He noted that free expression shouldn’t be allowed in Oman, and that civil society is pressured to reside beneath a situation of fixed terror, where even criticizing the regime is a criminal offense. Al-Badwawi then concluded his remarks by noting that day-after-day the area for democracy shrinks. He said that there is a variety of “scheme” that authorities have been utilizing to repress dissent: civil society targets are identified, arrested, tortured, interrogated and launched. And he was one of the victims of this steady cycle of arrests, tortures, interrogations and releases.

A interval of questions and answers followed, relating to regional similarities and how civil society organizations can perform and present info in nations like the UAE, the place civil area is shrinking. Tyler Pry concluded the panel by thanking the panelists for his or her remarks, and thanking the viewers for their consideration.