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A year in jail, UAE human rights defender trial begins

Political activist Ahmed Mansoor [Nicholas McGeehan/Twitter]
Political activist Ahmed Mansoor [Nicholas McGeehan/Twitter]

A human rights defender will be facing trial in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after more than one year imprisonment, the International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates (ICFUAE) said in a statement today.

Ahmed Mansoor was arrested in March last year and taken away by UAE security authorities who broke into his home. In the three hours that it took officers to raid his home, Mansoor had his hands and feet shackled and his head shaved.

Mansoor has not yet been charged with a crime and it is believed that he is imprisoned for his human rights advocacy work in the Emirates. Mansoor’s whereabouts are unknown, despite United Nation’s level condemnation.

Sometime before his arrest, Mansoor’s personal iPhone was targeted using sophisticated spyware only sold to governments, according to Amnesty International, to track his contacts and his activities. Apple was forced to issue a security update as a result.

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On the anniversary of his arrest, over 20 human rights organisations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called on UAE authorities to “immediately and unconditionally” release him.

British police began investigating accusations of torture against UAE officials after a complaint was filed by Qataris national last year. The UK’s Scotland Yard’s war crimes unit was called upon which uses the universal jurisdiction to go after serious crimes. The three Qataris, Mahmoud Al-Jaidah, Hamed Al-Hammadi and Yousef Al-Mulla, were detained upon their arrival to the UAE in 2013 and 2014. One was held for more than two years, and they were all eventually released in early 2015.

Early this year in Geneva, Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s foreign affairs minister, denied that arbitrary detention takes place within the UAE.

The UAE’s judicial system has drawn heavy criticism from rights groups for violating basic human rights guaranteed for all by international law.

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