GENEVA (07 May 2019) – UN human rights experts are gravely concerned over imprisoned activist Ahmed Mansoor’s physical well-being and say the poor conditions of his detention in the United Arab Emirates, including prolonged solitary confinement, may constitute torture.
The experts urged the UAE authorities to give the human rights defender, who began a hunger strike on 17 March in protest at an unfair trial and his prison conditions, immediate medical attention with his full consent.
“According to reports at our disposal, throughout his deprivation of liberty, Mr Mansoor has been kept in solitary confinement, and in conditions of detention that violate basic international human rights standards and which risk taking an irrevocable toll on Mr Mansoor’s health,” the experts said. “We implore the authorities of the United Arab Emirates to immediately grant him access to vital and consented medical care and to ensure that his conditions of detention conform to the United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.”
The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as “the Mandela Rules”, lay out basic standards for treatment of detainees, including bedding, visitation, reasonable levels of cell hygiene, appropriate access to healthcare and sanitary facilities, and the prohibition against torture.
Mansoor has allegedly been kept isolated in Al-Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi with no bed or water in his cell and with no access to a shower. Although visits have been allowed, they are rarely offered. UN experts have previously stated that prolonged periods of solitary confinement may amount to torture.
“We are also alarmed at repeated and consistent reports that Mr Mansoor has not received a fair trial and call on the authorities to ensure his retrial in accordance with the fundamental judicial guarantees provided for in international human rights law, or his immediate release,” the experts said.
Mansoor, who received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, was arrested in March 2017 and convicted in May 2018 for “insulting the ‘status and prestige of the UAE and its symbols’ including its leaders” and for “seeking to damage the relationship of the United Arab Emirates with its neighbours by publishing false reports and information on social media”. He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1,000,000 Emirati dirhams (around US$270,000).
Special procedures mandate holders have previously raised their concerns* with authorities in the UAE regarding Mansoor’s case and have issued two previous press releases** calling for his release.
(*)The UN experts: Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;Mr. David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mr. Dainius Pῡras, Special Rapporteur on the right to health; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.