UAE authorities misuse “Counselling Centres” to extend imprisonment of human rights defenders
The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) has learned that the authorities of the UAE are transferring some political opponents, human rights activists and bloggers to counselling centres in order to cover up their continuous arbitrary detention despite their imprisonment sentence and punishment have ended. Those, whom the Emirati officials decided to put in a counselling centre, will be kept in Al-Razeen Prison without being informed of a clear detention period and without having any contact or counselling.
In fact, this is what happened to blogger and human rights activist Osama Al-Najjar who, on March 17, 2017, has completed his three-year’s imprisonment sentence for the charge of posting a tweet on his personal Twitter account but the Public Prosecution has requested the court to extend his imprisonment term. The court allowed such request and ordered to transfer Al-Najjar to a counselling centre after he was considered as a “threat” according to Article 40 of the Federal Law No. (7) of 2014 on Combating Terrorism Offences.
Osama Al-Najjar was transferred to a counselling centre despite not being sentenced for terrorist offences, but he was rather convicted on the basis of Federal Law No. (5) of 2012 on Combating Cybercrimes. This demonstrates a clear evidence of the misuse and abuse of counselling centres by the Emirati government against human rights activists and bloggers by considering them as “terrorists”.
The case of Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Al-Mulla, Mr. Badr Al-Bahri and Mr. Abdullah Al-Helou further illustrates this unfair measure taken by the UAE officials. Indeed, the authorities claimed that the three prisoners of conscience represent a "danger to the State" and that they have not completed their counselling period and as a result, they will be referred to and appeared before the court again in a month from 22 April 2017.
The UAE authorities claim that the purpose of transferring those convicted of terrorist crimes or posing a terrorist threat to counselling centres is to guide and reform them and to ensure that they have psychological, social and religious sessions with psychiatrists, social workers and preachers under full supervision by committees formed by the Public Prosecution and security agencies.
The provisions regarding “counselling centre” or “Munasaha Centre” are first stipulated in Articles 1, 40, 48 and 66 of Federal Law no. (7) of 2014 on Combating Terrorism Offences. It is important to highlight that “counselling centre” or “Munasaha Centre” is just another form of detention facility and that individuals should not be kept there in the first place as it is not voluntary. Even more, it should not be used as a ground or a place to extend the imprisonment sentence term as in the case of Ahmed Mohamed Al-Mulla, Badr Al-Bahri and Abdullah Al-Helou, and Al-Najjar.
Read full statement: http://www.ic4jhr.org/en/2014-11-30-18-36-45/media/736-uae-authorities-m...