Is racism still present in Dubai?

United Arab Emirates 2017/18

The authorities continued to arbitrarily restrict freedom of expression and association in 2017. They relied on provisions of the penal code, the anti-terror law and the law on cybercrime, which prohibit peaceful criticism of politics and members of the government. At least 13 people have been detained or tried for this reason. Freedom of expression was violated in Dubai by two men arrested for "wearing feminine clothes".

In March 2017, the government announced that it would set up a prosecutor to investigate and prosecute information technology-related crimes. This would mean that cases of peaceful expression of opinion would also fall within the competence of the new public prosecutor's office. The authorities in Dubai blocked the news portal for a month in August 2017Arabian Business for spreading "false information" about failed real estate projects.

Leading human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor was arrested in March 2017. At the end of the year, he still had no access to legal counsel. He was in solitary confinement and, apart from two family visits, had no contact with the outside world, a violation of the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment.

In March 2017, the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal upheld the ten-year prison sentence imposed on the prisoner of conscience, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith had been imposed. The economist was arbitrarily arrested in 2015 and testified during his trial that he had been tortured. In April 2017, he went on a hunger strike to protest that he was not allowed to see the appeals court's verdict or see his lawyer.

In June 2017, the Attorney General of the United Arab Emirates announced that any expression of sympathy for Qatar could be punished with a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a fine. In July 2017, Ghanim Abdallah Matar was arrested for a video he posted on the Internet expressing solidarity with the people of Qatar.

In June 2017, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict of the Jordanian journalist and prisoner of conscience Tayseer al-Najjar, who had been sentenced to three years in prison, a fine of 500,000 UAE dirhams (around 110,000 euros) and subsequent deportation. He has been in custody since December 2015 for being upFacebookhad published critical statements which the authorities believed were intended to damage "the reputation and prestige" of the country.

Human rights defender and prisoner of conscience, Dr. Mohammad al-Roken continued to serve a ten-year prison term. The verdict came in 2013 following an unfair mass trial known as the UAE 94. In May he was awarded the Ludovic Trarieux Prize, an international award for human rights defenders.