November 19, 2018
Ahead of the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand-Prix, which is set to take place between 23 and 25 November, the authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) must step up to the modern image they want to project and unconditionally release all those who have been detained solely for peacefully criticizing the government.
“As the world tunes in to watch the final race of the Formula One Grand-Prix season and attend glitzy music concerts, they should know that the UAE authorities have also been racing to silence critics and human rights defenders,” said Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Campaigns Director.
Since 2011 the UAE authorities have embarked on a ruthless crackdown targeting human rights defenders, judges, lawyers, academics, students and journalists, in their efforts to stamp out dissent in the country. Many have been subjected to arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and unfair trials. As a result, critics and dissidents in the UAE are serving lengthy prison sentences simply for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.
“Today, we call on Formula One Grand-Prix drivers, teams and performers to be the champions of human rights on the circuit and on the entertainment stage. They should be the voice of those who have been silenced and unfairly detained.
Amnesty International is campaigning for the release of the following prisoners of conscience in the UAE:
Dr Mohammed al-Roken is a prominent human rights lawyer and former president of the UAE’s Jurists Association who was arrested on 17 July 2012. He was sentenced in July 2013 to 10 years’ imprisonment, following the grossly unfair trial of 94 reform advocates, which became known as the “UAE 94” trial.
Many of the UAE 94 defendants have alleged in court that they were tortured or otherwise ill-treated in pre-trial detention, where they were often held incommunicado for months in secret State Security detention facilities.