Muhammad Al-Roken, born in 1962, is an Emirati lawyer working in the field of human rights, and he is a professor of international law. He holds a master's degree and a Ph.D in constitutional law from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom. Dr. Al-Roken is a member of the International Bar Association, the former president of the UAE Jurists Association, and a founding member of the "Gulf Dam" organization. In addition, he was a professor of constitutional law at the United Arab Emirates University and author of numerous books and articles in the field of human rights. He was a former advisor to the government on legal matters.
In 2012, Al-Roken was awarded Alkarama Award for Human Rights, and he also received many awards in his field.
In 2011, Dr. Al-Roken was involved in the Third of March petition, sent to the President of the UAE demanding the right to vote and to give legislative power to Parliament. Also, he was defending many activists and others who sufferd human rights violations, such as the "UAE 5” group.
Due to his human rights activities, Al-Roken became a target of harassment and intimidation by the UAE government, which put him under official surveillance for years. Then, he was arrested and subjected to enforced disappearance, his passport was confiscated, and he was banned from traveling. He was also prohibited from giving public lectures at the university and from writing for the national newspapers.
His apprehension and trial
On July 17, 2012, the UAE security forces arrested Al-Roken, a prominant human rights defender, neae to his house on his way to the police station to report his son's disappearance. Al-Roken remained subjected to enforced disappearance in an unknown place for eight months.
During detention, many international reports stated that Dr. Al-Roken was subjected to various forms of torture and degrading treatment. He was placed in solitary confinement without a bed or his personal belongings. Plus, he was denied his right to legal representation.
On July 2, 2013, the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi sentenced 56 people, including Al-Roken, to 10 years imprisonment with additional 3 years of probation. He was brought before court as a member of the “UAE 94” group.
It was reported that in November 2015, Dr. Al-Roken was subjected to torture in Al-Razeen prison using loudspeakers a very loud music that led him to become unconscious. Although there are alarm bells cameras in each cell, the guard did nothing. Then, doctors found out that he had high blood pressure and severe ear infections caused by the noise of the loudspeakers. After that, he was placed in solitary confinement with no visits.
Several human rights defenders and friends of Al-Roken, lawyers and activists, denounced this unfair arrest and trial, considering that him their guide in the field in the UAE as he strongly believed in human rights, democracy and a free society. Although he knew he is watched by the state security men, he never hesitated to continue his journey in the field to help those who needed his voice and free speech.
Al-Roken’s trial lacked all the standards of a fair trial, which are guaranteed by the international standards. The UAE authorities extracted confessions from him and other prisoners of conscience under torture and intimidation. Also, he was put in solitarty confinement with no visits or legal meetings.
A number of human rights organizations saw the arrest and trial of Al-Roken as a major loss in the field of human rights, due to his dedication and sincerity in serving human rights issues and following up on the human rights file in the UAE