U.S. blocklists Sandvine for enabling digital repression in Egypt

COP28: UAE authorities must stop greenwashing human rights abuses

As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prepares to host the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), Access Now and partners are demanding that human rights are at the forefront of the agenda. 

Through an open letter, Access Now and a global coalition of over 200 other civil society organizations are calling on all governments attending COP28 to prioritize human rights in the upcoming summit, given the UAE’s appalling human rights track record.

UAE authorities have a long history of weaponizing spyware and other surveillance technologies to target, silence, and prosecute human rights defenders and journalists. In the lead up to, during, and following COP28, the UAE must end all unlawful surveillance, and refrain from spying on COP28 participants.

As governments gear up for COP28, it is imperative that they condemn the chilling use of spyware and surveillance technologies, tactics that authorities in the UAE have resorted to for years to create an atmosphere of fear and repression. The UAE government’s long-standing disregard for privacy and freedom poses an imminent threat to all attendees, who risk falling prey to authorities’ prying eyes Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now

Authorities in the UAE have intensified their assault on people’s rights, criminalizing peaceful expression, association, and assembly through a barrage of repressive laws. Scores of Emirati political dissidents, human rights defenders — including Ahmed Mansoor, who was targeted with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware — judges, academics, and students known as the UAE94 remain unjustly imprisoned in the country. 

The situation of political prisoners and the crackdown on civil society in the UAE paints a stark and troubling portrait of the country’s human rights situation. With the clock ticking down to COP28, will governments prioritize human rights alongside climate action, or will they stand by and allow these rights abuses to persist unchecked? Kassem Mnejja, MENA Campaigner at Access Now

Ensuring COP28’s success and safeguarding the legitimacy of future climate conferences hinges upon the global community’s joint commitment to climate justice and human rights. Climate justice is a human rights issue. Authorities in the UAE must stop greenwashing human rights abuses, and immediately release all political prisoners, while governments attending the climate conference must ensure that human rights are at the center of COP28.