Events of 2022
In 2022, United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities introduced amendments to a wide range of laws yet continued an alarming campaign of repression and censorship against dissidents.
The UAE has expanded its surveillance capabilities, both online and through drone surveillance in public spaces. UAE authorities continue to block representatives of international human rights organizations and United Nations experts from conducting in-country research and visiting prisons and detention facilities. Local news sites exercise self-censorship, and journalists face tremendous limitations in their work. Expo 2020 took place in Dubai from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2022, after it was postponed due to Covid-19.
Freedom of Expression, Association, and Assembly
Scores of activists, academics, and lawyers are serving lengthy sentences in UAE prisons following unfair trials on vague and broad charges that violate their rights to free expression and association.
Ahmed Mansoor, a leading Emirati human rights defender, remained imprisoned in an isolation cell for a sixth year. Details of UAE authorities’ persecution of Mansoor emerged in 2021, revealing grave violations of his rights that demonstrated the State Security Agency’s unchecked powers to commit abuses. In July 2021, a private letter he wrote detailing his mistreatment in detention leaked to regional media, sparking renewed concern over his well-being and possible retaliation. An informed source reported that after the letter’s publication, authorities retaliated by moving Mansour to a smaller and more isolated cell, denied him access to critical medical care, and confiscated his reading glasses.
Prominent academic Nasser bin-Ghaith, serving 10 years on charges stemming from criticism of UAE and Egyptian authorities, and university professor and human rights lawyer Mohammed al-Roken, serving 10 years following his conviction alongside 68 other people in the grossly unfair “UAE 94” trial, also remained in prison. Several of those convicted in the UAE 94 trial remain in detention despite completing their sentences.
Authorities released on health grounds Michael Bryan Smith, a UK national, in October 2021 after he spent more than 10 years in prison, despite being pardoned in 2014. Authorities denied him and other prisoners living with HIV regular and uninterrupted access to critical medication and adequate healthcare throughout his detention.
Read more at hrw.org
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