"In the UAE it's now a case of 'you're with us or you're a terrorist. While the UAE proclaims to the world that it is leading the fight against extremist ideologies, it has empowered its courts to order the deaths of people they consider opponents of Islamic principles," Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director was quoted as saying on the organization's official website.
According to the new law, every act opposing state policies or undermining national unity could be perceived as terrorism. This is a very broad definition, according to HRW, that can lead to human rights violations.
"The UAE claims to be a key ally in the fight against violent extremism, but it has just passed a violent and extreme law of its own," Whitson said. "This horrendous law and its potentially drastic consequences should sting the UAE's Western allies into raising some long overdue concerns about the country's dismal rights record."
The new Terrorism Law No. 7 of 2014 was issued by the UAE's president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on August 20. According to HRW, this law could be used to punish those opposing or criticizing state policies, as the definition of terrorism embodied in the document is very broad and questionable. Terrorism is defined as actions "stirring panic among a group of people" and "antagonizing the state." The law envisions life imprisonment or death penalty for everyone who undermines the state security. Everyone who “knowingly, promotes, favors verbally or in writing, or makes appealling in any other form a terrorist organization” could be sentenced to ten years in jail.