Similar to what happened with Egypt when it hosted the Climate Summit at the end of last year, and the calls made by many human rights organizations to stop the suffering of opponents, a similar scenario occurred with the UAE, which is hosting the next edition of the summit.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and 40 other organizations said, in a joint statement, that the UAE continues its “continuous assault” on human rights and uses the criminal justice system as a “tool” to eradicate the human rights movement.
The statement came ahead of the United Nations COP28 Climate Change Conference, which the UAE will host in late November, according to Middle East Eye.
“We express our deep concern about the human rights situation in the country, in particular the severe restrictions imposed by the authorities on the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, which seriously undermine the work of civil society and space for political opposition in the country,” the statement said.
The statement stated that the UAE authorities have “unjustly” arrested at least 60 Emirati human rights defenders, activists, and political opponents.
Many of them were imprisoned in the aftermath of the controversial mass trial known as the “UAE 94”, and they were supposed to be released on July 16, 2019.
The UAE 94 case was a mass trial in 2013 involving 94 people accused of attempting to overthrow the Emirati government, a charge they denied.
While more than three-quarters of the prisoners have completed their sentences, they remain in arbitrary detention because the authorities refuse to release them.
The UAE has also imprisoned Nasser bin Ghaith, a prominent economist and human rights advocate, for tweets critical of Egypt, the Gulf state’s main ally.
A UAE state news agency reported that he was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Federal Court of Appeal in Abu Dhabi in 2017 for “communicating with secret organizations and offensive publications on the Internet.”
The joint statement also highlighted the Cybercrime Law of 2021, saying this was enacted to “restrict online activity and dissent”.
42 UAE organizations called for the “immediate and unconditional” release of all those imprisoned simply for exercising their human rights, the closure of all secret detention centers and the amendment of all “oppressive” laws that violate human rights.
“The UAE government could try to exploit its presidency of the COP28 conference to cynically promote an image of openness and tolerance, despite the UAE’s failure to respect the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” the statement said.