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Written by HRDs and Journalists
UAE: Human rights defender Dr Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi sentenced to twelve months in prison
Beirut, 24 July 2012- The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information that human rights defender Dr. Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi was sentenced to twelve months in prison. Dr. Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi is a former judge who has repeatedly called for reform in the UAE.
On 23 July 2012, following its sixth court session, the Court of First Instance in Abu Dhabi sentenced Dr. Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi to six months in prison for fraud and a further six months for assuming another person’s identity and also fined him AED 500 (approximately $135USD). He maintains that all the charges against him are unfounded and vehemently denies them. It is suspected that an appeal will be lodge appealing the sentencing.
Human rights activists in the UAE claim that the ruling against Dr Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi is a political judgment and cannot therefore carry the weight of a court ruling. They have called for his immediate releases and the establishment of an independent and impartial judiciary.
Dr Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi has been in detention since 26 March 2012, when he was arrested by UAE security forces along with fellow human rights activist Mr. Ahmed Ghaith Al-Suwaidi. For further information see GCHR appeal dated 30 March 2012,http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/104.
The GCHR condemns the sentencing of Dr Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi and believes it is directly related to the legitimate exercise of his right to freedom of expression and his calls for reforms in the UAE.
The GCHR urges the authorities in the UAE to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi as the GCHR believes that he has been detained solely as a result of his legitimate human rights work;
- Immediately drop all charges against Dr. Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi as the GCHR believes that they are unfounded;
- Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Dr. Ahmed Yousef Al-Zaabi while he remains in detention;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”, and to Article 12 (1 and 2): “(1) Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to participate in peaceful activities against violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. (2) The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.