The human rights organization CIVICUS has placed the UAE on its human rights watch list because of the "increasing deterioration of civil liberties and the Gulf country's severe restrictions on the work of activists, journalists and civil society groups.
The organization bases this on three reasons. The first reason is the continued detention of pro-democracy activists by UAE authorities since 2012; the second reason is the recently passed new cybercrime and anti-rumor law, which the organization says threatens freedom of expression; and the third reason is the authorities' continued surveillance of human rights activists and use of spyware against them.
The CIVICUS Watch List aims to draw attention to countries where respect for civil liberties, particularly freedom of expression, assembly and association, has declined. The list is updated every three to four months and then submitted to the Human Rights Council, experts from UN and international organizations.
CIVICUS selects the watch list based on a wide network of members, partners, and data, drawing on a variety of data sources. The list is drawn up through a research collaboration of more than 20 research partners, and this research includes quantitative findings related to civic space, the most recent violations in the country, information from the latest country updates, and a variety of these data points to identify countries where there has been a rapid decline in relation to civic space.
A few days ago, CIVICUS launched the new watch list through its electronic platform, CIVICUS Monitor, a platform that tracks the latest developments in civil liberties in 197 countries and territories. The new list includes the UAE, El Salvador, Russia, India, Kazakhstan and Tunisia.
“CIVICUS Monitor” classifies the civil space in the UAE as CLOSED, and a total of 25 countries in the world are included in this classification, and this classification usually includes countries that practice a complete closure of civil space, and any criticism of the ruling authorities is severely punished without free media.
It is noteworthy that CIVICUS is an international non-profit organization consisting of a global alliance dedicated to promoting the work of citizens within civil society around the world. It was founded in 1993, and its members are in more than 145 countries, while it has its headquarters in Johannesburg, as well as offices or branches in London, Geneva and New York.