The rights organization said more than two dozen members of the Reform and Social Guidance Associated were arrested in the United Arab Emirates. State media said they were arrested for conspiring against the government.
"The only conspiracy that Emiratis should worry about is that of the government to stamp out any and every semblance of dissent," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement from Beirut.
A 2010 report to the United Nations noted that the United Arab Emirates isn't party to protocols on the rights of children, the sale of children, child pornography or the use of child soldiers.
Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, U.N. special rapporteur on human trafficking, said in April the Emirati government deserves praise for combating certain rights abuses but must do more to help victims.
"In this day and age, with democratic movements sweeping the region, the Emirati government is desperately clinging to outdated, repressive tactics," added Whitson.
Exploding whale video goes viral on Internet
Couple mistakenly served bag of cash at McDonald's drive-thru