The Emirates Centre for Human Rights (ECHR) claimed Dec. 6 that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has arrested an 18-year-old blogger as part of a wider effort to crack down on perceived government opposition. The ECHR claims that UAE security forces searched the home of Mohamed Salem al-Zumer and confiscated several electronic devices before arresting him and transferring him to an unknown location. The rights group condemned this arrest and the continued practice of arresting peaceful dissenters. In the statement, the ECHR detailed further restrictive practices:
It has emerged that at least nine individuals have been banned from travelling and cannot leave the UAE. These names remained undisclosed due to fears of reprisals in light of the recently passed Cybercrimes Law, which criminalized Emiratis from passing information to both independent journalists and human rights organisations. Those banned from travelling are either relatives of detainees or known to be sympathetic of their plight. They have not been arrested, charged with a crime or given official reasons for the restrictions on their movement.
The ECHR called upon the UAE to end its attacks on free speech.
This is the most recent controversy involving human rights abuses in the UAE. In August a group of lawyers began a hunger strike to protest their illegal detentions. In July the UAE arrested a prominent lawyer in a crackdown on Islamist dissidents. Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch in late April called on the UAE to stop the recent crackdown on political activists by ending arrests and releasing those already in custody, expressing concern that the UAE is threatening to revoke prisoners’ citizenship as a way of punishing them for expressing public dissent, an action that the advocacy groups contend violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. AI has previously called on the UAE government to release such “prisoners of conscience” in compliance with international law. Last November the UAE Federal Supreme Court imprisoned five activists for participating in a campaign seeking political liberties.