Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center

UAE NHRI members' history of supporting human rights abuses causes controversy

23 Dec 2021
متوفر باللغة

The establishment of the UAE National Human Rights Institution (NHRIUAE) on December 18 last year has drawn much criticism from the human rights community after it was revealed that the Emirati authorities have given the chairmanship of the NHRIUAE to an officer of the UAE army, in addition to the 11 members, most of whom are police officers and government employees.

But it did not stop there, as it also became clear that the commission includes a number of members who support human rights abuses, who are known to constantly mistreat prisoners of conscience in the UAE, and who have helped promote the Emirati authorities' account of the UAE 94 trials.

These members have not only abused prisoners of conscience, but have also played a central role in supporting the human rights violations in a manner that made them complicit in the human rights violations, as one of them played the role of a false witness in the unfair mass trials, while the other ran a media machinery aimed at distorting the image of the prisoners and undermining their reputation.

The first is Zayed Al Shamsi, the former president of the Emirati Lawyers Association, who was appointed by the Emirati authorities after the association was dissolved and its president and most of its members were imprisoned in 2012. He is a graduate of the Dubai Police Academy. Before his appointment, he was the head of the Emirates Center for Human Rights Studies, a state-run center whose goal is to promote the policies of the Abu Dhabi authorities and rulers. It recently published an analysis entitled: "The Human Rights Perspective of the Messages of HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed," which confirms that the center is nothing more than a propaganda tool that has nothing to do with human rights studies.

Al Shamsi attended the hearing of the UAE94 case after the UAE authorities invited him and expelled representatives of independent international organizations such as Amnesty International to appear as a false witness to the most heinous human rights violations in the history of the UAE.

The trial was called a "farce" by international organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued a statement on the matter, saying that the UAE government had deprived the defendants of the right to a fair trial and had arbitrarily detained them, which Al-Shamsi called fair. He accused the detainees of betraying the homeland.

Al-Shamsi participated in the documentary "Dahaleez Al-Thalam" produced by Abu Dhabi TV to distort the image of the detainees. He said the trial was fair and the judges were very kind to the detainees and granted them their full rights, claiming that after he saw the evidence, he "felt the detainees' betrayal of the homeland, and realized that they did not want goodness for the country.

Instead of playing his role as a lawyer and president of the Emirati Lawyers Association by defending the detainees, he agreed to play the role of a false witness to human rights violations. The Emirati authorities rewarded him and appointed him head of the Center for Human Rights Studies in the Emirates to continue his career in distorting the reality of human rights in the country.

The other member is Muhammad Al Hammadi, who played an important role in directing the propaganda to distort the image of detainees of conscience, as he held many positions in the Emirati media institutions and was directly involved in falsifying facts.

Al Hammadi was involved in the production of several TV broadcasts on Abu Dhabi TV that targeted the opposition and showed confessions of prisoners of conscience. This led to the UK Communications Regulatory Authority (Ofcom) imposing fines and penalties on the broadcaster for breaching broadcasting regulations and showing confessions extracted under torture.

When he was editor-in-chief of the Emirati newspaper Al-Ittihad, Al-Hammadi used the newspaper to insult prisoners of conscience and published reports that contradicted the reality of UAE prisons and the human rights situation. The newspaper was among the media outlets that attacked the prisoners of conscience, calling  them terrorists.

Al-Hammadi's hostile behavior against prisoners of conscience did not stop there. Rather, he published dozens of tweets against prisoners of conscience on his Twitter account and wrote a book titled "The Fall of the Muslim Brotherhood," a book that contains a series of articles published in Al-Ittihad newspaper describing the Muslim Brotherhood's "attempt to organize and overthrow the ruling system in the UAE."

Al-Hammadi also attacked the late human rights activist Alaa Al-Siddiq after her death, as he wrote in one of his tweets on Twitter, "Alaa Al-Siddiq chose the Brotherhood organization and preferred it to her homeland. She lived alone as a refugee".

Not content with condoning and supporting human rights abuses in the UAE and insulting the Emirati opposition whenever he had the chance, Al Hammadi also defended the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Sometimes he shared a tweet saying, "The murder of Khashoggi is a mistake that happens in all countries of the world," and other times he attacked those who spoke about it, accusing them of trading on his blood.

Al-Hammadi and Al-Shamsi's record in promoting human rights abuses in the UAE and around the world is full of them, and it cannot be limited in a small report. The real question is: What will Al-Hammadi and Al-Shamsi monitor if they believe that arbitrary detention and torture of prisoners is a fair thing?