UAE jails Jordanian for 10 years for criticising Jordan’s gov’t | Human Rights Information


The choice by a United Arab Emirates court docket to condemn a Jordanian resident to 10 years in jail in October for criticising Jordan’s authorities was based mostly completely on a collection of peaceable Fb posts, a rights group has stated.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged authorities within the UAE to instantly launch 46-year-old Ahmed Etoum, saying he was convicted solely for his “peaceable criticism of the Jordanian royal household and authorities”.

In a press release on Thursday, the US-based rights group stated the court docket convicted him in October 2020 of utilizing Fb to commit “acts towards a international state” that might “harm political relations” with that state and “endanger nationwide safety” contained in the UAE.

“This can be a terrifying development as many Arab governments arrest or repatriate for detention residents of different Arab states who criticise their very own govt insurance policies,” Rami Khouri, senior fellow and professor on the American College of Beirut, stated in a tweet on Saturday.

“The end result transforms a lot of the Arab area right into a single authoritarian entity the place people concern to talk their thoughts.”

Etoum has lived in Abu Dhabi for about 5 years together with his spouse and two kids the place he labored as a college instructor. He usually used Fb to voice his opinions – to his simply greater than 4,000 followers – on issues in his residence nation the place an financial disaster is ongoing.

In accordance with his relations, Etoum is being held at al-Wathba jail in Abu Dhabi, HRW stated. Earlier than with the ability to contact his household, Etoum was positioned in solitary confinement for 4 months and was solely supplied with a lawyer after his first listening to.

His arrest will “not improve any safety for anybody, however solely additional dehumanise Arab women and men who can’t peacefully categorical their views”, Khouri stated in one other Twitter put up.

“It additionally robs our societies of the views, concepts and contributions of residents, that are important for real nationwide improvement.”

‘Prolonged repression’

On October 8, 2020, the State Safety Circuit on the Abu Dhabi Courtroom of Appeals convicted Etoum on fees based mostly on each the penal code and a 2012 legislation on combatting cybercrime.

The costs embrace “intentionally finishing up an act towards a international nation that might harm political relations”, and publishing data on Fb that “promotes concepts that might incite or stir discord and disturb public order and social peace”.

HRW stated UAE authorities have lengthy used broadly worded legal guidelines to restrict lawful speech in violation of worldwide requirements.

They’ve carried out a “sustained assault” on freedom of expression and affiliation since 2011, the group stated, including that UAE residents who’ve been outspoken about human rights are at “severe threat of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture”.

“UAE authorities have lengthy clamped down on public criticism of the UAE authorities and insurance policies, and have apparently prolonged this repression to critics of different international locations as properly,” stated Michael Web page, deputy Center East director at HRW.

“Regional cooperation to root out and silence impartial voices and criticism appears to be the one significant Arab unity these governments are able to.”

In the meantime, Sarah Leah Whitson, govt director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, stated the UAE is now “making it clear” to nearly all of its workforce that they are going to be “convicted and jailed in the event that they dare to specific their essential opinions about something, anyplace”.

She added that Jordan has commonly did not defend or help its residents persecuted for sharing their views within the UAE, in addition to in Saudi Arabia.

In accordance with HRW, UAE authorities in 2017 sentenced a Jordanian journalist who was then residing within the nation to a few years in jail over his on-line criticism of Israeli and Egyptian navy actions in and close to the besieged Gaza Strip.

Tayseer al-Najjar was launched in February 2019, two months after he accomplished his sentence.

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