Lawyers attempt to reach human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, who is held incommunicado
On 26 February 2018, lawyers from Ireland approached the Ministry of the Interior in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to try to gain access to distinguished human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, who has been detained since 20 March 2017 for his human rights activities. Mansoor, who received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders in 2015, is a member of the advisory boards of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR).
Given the widely documented use of torture and solitary confinement by UAE authorities and the lack of any independent information regarding Mansoor, there are grave fears for his safety. Numerous organisations have expressed concern that he may be tortured and subject to ill-treatment in detention.
Several hours after his arrest, the official state-run news website, the Emirates News Agency, announced that Mansoor was arrested on the orders of the Public Prosecutor for Cybercrimes linked to his social media posts. Eleven months later, it is unclear what, if any, charges he is facing, whether court proceedings are underway, and if he has legal representation. Furthermore, his place of detention is unknown, and there is no information on how he is being treated, or whether he is in solitary confinement. With the exception of two family visits on 3 April and 17 September 2017, it appears that Mansoor has had no other visitors.
In Abu Dhabi, the Irish lawyers approached the Ministry of the Interior headquarters, which is the authority controlling and running prisons. The Ministry referred the lawyers to the police, who are not responsible for prisons. The police then advised them to approach the Al-Wathba prison, which they did, only to be told Mansoor is not being held there. The inability of the authority responsible to provide any information on Mansoor is remarkable given that he has been detained for almost a year.
The mission was mandated by GCHR, the Martin Ennals Foundation, Front Line Defenders, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).