front line defenders : United Arab Emirates: Arrest and detention of human rights defender Dr Mohamed Al Roken
In the early morning of 17 July 2012, prominent UAE human rights defender Dr Mohamed Al Roken was arrested near his home by security forces. His place of detention is currently unknown.
Leading human rights lawyer held in incommunicado detention
Dr Mohamed Al Roken is a leading human rights lawyer who provides legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses in the UAE, including to fellow human rights defenders. Among those he has recently defended are the “UAE 5” human rights defenders who were convicted and sentenced to imprisonment by a UAE court for their human rights work in November 2011 and subsequently released as a result of a Presidential amnesty. Mohamed Al Roken attended the Front Line Defenders Dublin Platform in 2003.
The arrest and detention of Mohamed Al Roken comes hours after the deportation to Thailand of fellow human rights defender Mr Ahmad Abd Al Khaliq and in the wake of a wave of arrests of political reformists.
Before his arrest Mohamed Al Roken was busy advocating for those arrested and relaying the news of their arrest to the outside world. Mohamed Al Roken, a member of the International Bar Association, was chairperson of the UAE Jurists Association before it was arbitrarily dissolved by the UAE authorities in April 2011.
Human rights defenders routinely targeted by state agencies
Human rights defenders in the UAE face grave risks as they try to carry out their work in a hostile environment. Those criticising Government policies or exposing human rights violations are considered security threats and are targeted by Government agencies, including the police and other security services, which play a major role in the suppression of the work of human rights defenders.
Human rights defenders targeted with arrest, attacks, smear campaigns
Human rights defenders are also threatened and attacked by government supporters including the media and tribal entities loyal to the ruling family. Defenders have been physically attacked and beaten, arbitrarily dismissed from work, arrested and charged, subjected to travel bans and threatened with deportation. They have also been facing an ongoing smear campaign and intimidation on the Internet, on social media networks, and on television and radio stations, some of which use talk shows and religious programmes as vehicles to stigmatise defenders.
Front Line Defenders condemns the arrest and detention of Mohamed Al Roken and expresses concern for his physical and psychological integrity. Front Line Defenders believes that Mohamed Al Roken’s arrest and detention are solely motivated by his advocacy for human rights in the UAE and his essential role in providing legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses in the UAE.