Amnesty International said the UAE continues to commit serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees, suppression of freedom of expression, and violation of the right to privacy.
Amnesty International added in its 2021 State of Human Rights in the World report that Abu Dhabi continued its policy of denying stateless persons the right to obtain citizenship and that UAE courts imposed death sentences, some of which were carried out.
The report notes that the UAE continues to arbitrarily detain citizens and foreigners, noting that in January 2021, authorities transferred arbitrarily detained Syrian national Abdul Rahman Al-Nahhas to Al-Wathba Prison in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi after holding him for 13 months without contact with the outside world in an unknown location.
The prosecutor and al-Nahhas's government-appointed defense lawyer refused to provide his family with the charges against him in writing.
According to the report, the UAE continued to detain individuals after their prison sentences had ended under judicial orders, based on a law on "counseling to counter extremist ideology" that cannot be challenged.
The organization's report also states that in April 2021, authorities released four of the 11 detainees on the occasion of Ramadan, namely: Faisal Ali Al-Shehhi (3 years and 11 months after his sentence ended); Ahmed Al Mulla (3 years and 11 months); Saeed Abdullah Al Buraimi (3 years and 1 month); and Mansour Hassan Al-Ahmadi (one year and five months), while the other seven remained in prison despite the end of their sentences.
(Amnesty) pointed out that cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment continues in Emirati prisons, as human rights defender Ahmed Mansour has been held in solitary confinement since 2017, without any blankets other than two light and dirty sheets and without sufficient personal hygiene items.
The report highlighted that Abu Dhabi exercises tight control over freedom of speech, as at least 26 prisoners remain behind bars for their peaceful political criticism, and the government's website on "Legislation to Combat Emerging Corona Virus (Covid-19)" continues to warn that the law criminalizes the publication or dissemination of "false, misleading, or deceptive health information or instructions."
The annual report states that in April 2021, authorities sentenced Maryam Al-Balushi and Amina Al-Abdouli, two detainees, to three years in prison for "disseminating false information that disturbs public order" after they sent in audio recordings of their complaints about prison conditions.
The report said the UAE continues to violate the right to privacy by using spy software against Emirati activists and peaceful opposition figures, and that Abu Dhabi is one of 11 countries that has purchased software from NSO Group, an Israeli company specializing in electronic espionage.
Amnesty International, as a participant in Project Pegasus, examined a number of cell phones for traces of the program and uncovered a number of cases of espionage against European citizens.
The report notes that the research organization Citizen Lab has confirmed that the spy software, produced by the Israeli group "NSO," was used against Emirati opposition figure Alaa Al-Siddiq, who died in a car accident in the UK in June.
Amnesty International's report is published annually on March 30 to summarize the human rights situation in 154 countries and covers a wide range of issues including arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances and freedom of speech.