More than 90 government critics, including human rights defenders, were in detention at the end of the year without charge or trial amid increasing restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. At least two were prisoners of conscience. Seven of those detained were arbitrarily stripped of their nationality and one was then deported. At least six people faced charges for content they posted on social media. Women faced discrimination in law and practice. Foreign migrant workers continued to be exploited and abused. At least 21 death sentences were imposed; at least one person was executed.
In February and June, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded that the arrests in 2011 of Abdelsalam Abdallah Salim, Akbar Omar and activist Ahmed Mansoor were arbitrary. The WGAD requested that the government provide reparations to the three men and ratify the ICCPR; the government had not fulfilled either request by the end of the year.
The UAE acceded to the UN Convention against Torture in July. It did not recognize the competency of the UN Committee against Torture to investigate allegations of torture. The government also made a declaration on the Convention, stating that in its view “pain and suffering arising from lawful sanctions” did not fall under the treaty’s definition of torture.Top of page
The authorities extended limitations on the exercise of freedoms of expression, association and assembly, intensifying the crackdown on peaceful dissent which began in 2011 and particularly targeting dissent in social media.
Syrian nationals who demonstrated outside the Syrian consulate in February faced questioning; around 50 were deported, although none to Syria.
Waves of arrests targeting government critics resulted in the detention without charge or trial of around 90 people linked to al-Islah (the Reform and Social Guidance Association), a UAE-based organization loosely modelled on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
In November, the federal government enacted a decree on cybercrime, which provided for the prosecution, fining or imprisonment of those using the internet to criticize government figures or to call for demonstrations or political reform.
Independent trade unions remained prohibited.Top of page
An investigation into a death in custody resulted in one-month prison terms for five officials, while 13 others were acquitted of torture. A second case resulted in a finding of death by natural causes. Torture allegations made by two Syrian nationals and one US national were not known to have been investigated.
Most al-Islah detainees could not meet with family or legal representatives and in most cases their whereabouts remained unknown. They were permitted in rare cases to telephone their families.Top of page
At least 21 death sentences were imposed, mostly on people convicted of murder and drug trafficking. At least one person was executed.
In November, UAE abstained on a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.Top of page