A Close Look at the Restrictions on Speech in the UAE

The International human rights agency has called on the UAE government to immediately halt its aggressive assault on the freedom of speech of its citizens. While the gulf oil state’s assault on the free expression has declined over the years, the draconian laws against critical thought and free speech are still present.

The authorities in UAE have deported activists, barred academics and bloggers, and detained people who have raised a voice against the freedom of speech. The country has also blacklisted human rights organizations such as the Human Rights Watch and other international NGOs that have shown light on the gross abuse of human rights in the country.

Freedom of speech is one of the unalienable human rights that have been mentioned in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Repressing the right to free speech is considered as a wrong, representing a barbaric and tyrannical view of humans as a servile object.

Everyone has the right to practice free speech. The right includes the freedom to have an opinion and to seek and impart information regardless of any frontiers or channel. This view of the free speech is rightfully recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that represents a pinnacle of modern human achievement against all forms of tyranny.

However, this right of free speech has been grossly abused by the UAE government.

In 2012, the government had expelled Matt Duffy, a professor of journalism teaching at the UAE University for requesting more media freedom in the country. In the same year, the government had deported an Emirati blogger named Ahmed Abd al-Khaleq for raising voice against the government policies. The previous year the UAE regime had disbanded the Jurist Association and the Teacher’s Association due to their view of greater freedom of expression in the country.

The government convicted 69 individuals in 2013 for trying to overthrow the government. However, the court-trial reports clearly show that they did nothing wrong other than peacefully stating their legitimate right to free expression. The government authorities also intimidated and harassed the defendant’s lawyers and created a fear among the legal professionals.

Draconian Laws Against Freedom of Speech

The current laws in the UAE that restrict the right of free speech are nothing short of barbaric. The government had passed a law in 2012 decreeing that anyone that comments against the ruler will be imprisoned without any warrant.

Anyone who uses the online medium to criticize the government is either deported or sentenced to long prison terms. The authority detains people that criticize the establishment, the culture, or the religion. Unless the international community raises voice against the intolerant attitude of the government, people will continue to face repression by the Emirati regime grossly violating their basic human rights.