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#United Arab Emirates (UAE)

#United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The persecution of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the UAE is systematic. Since 2011, the state has intensified its crackdown on freedom of association, assembly and freedom of expression. HRDs and members of their families are subjected to forced disappearance, prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, judicial harassment and unfair trials, travel ban, physical and digital surveillance and arbitrary dismissal from work.

The Penal Code includes vague legal provisions that have been used against HRDs. Article 176 provides for up to five years imprisonment for “whoever publicly insults the state president, its flag or national emblem”. Article 8 widens the application of this provision to include the vice president, members of the Supreme Council of the Federation, and other State authorities.

In August 2014, the UAE issued a new Counter-Terrorism Law, which provides the authorities with broad powers to prosecute peaceful critics, political dissidents and human rights activists and declare them terrorists. The vague and overly broad definition of terrorism in the 2014 law, which makes possible to qualify a wide range of peaceful and legitimate activities as mounting to terrorism, may be used to sentence human rights defenders to lengthy prison terms or even death. Under this law, peaceful protesting can be viewed as “antagonising the state”, which the law considers as an activity having a “terrorist outcome”.

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