United Arab Emirates: in a new report, ICJ documents massive rights violations in the UAE 94 trial
In a report published today, the ICJ details a catalogue of violations of fair trial rights and other serious human rights violations committed against those detained in the context of the UAE 94 trial.
The report, Mass convictions following an unfair trial: The UAE 94 case, comes amidst a crackdown on individuals calling for peaceful political reform, who continue to be arrested, detained, prosecuted and convicted for the lawful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
The UAE authorities must end this crackdown and ensure the immediate and unconditional release of those convicted in the UAE 94 trial, the ICJ says.
“The UAE 94 trial has been marred with a litany of violations of fair trial rights. The convictions of 69 individuals following this trial must be quashed and those imprisoned must be immediately and unconditionally released”, said Said Benarbia, senior legal adviser of the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme.
Those convicted on 2 July 2013 were found guilty of “establishing, founding and administering an organization, with the aim of challenging the basic principles upon which the government of the State is based, taking control of the government and establishing a secret structure for the organization”.
Fifty-six of them were sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment, five of them to seven years’ imprisonment and eight others, who were tried in absentia, to fifteen years’ imprisonment. The remaining 25 accused were acquitted.
The ICJ notes that, since 31 July 2013, many of the prisoners convicted in the UAE 94 case have begun a hunger strike to protest against the conditions of their detention.
They have reportedly been subjected to various forms of ill-treatment, including beatings by prison guards and light depravation.
The authorities have failed to investigate the many human rights abuses alleged to have been committed against those detained in the context of the UAE 94 case, the ICJ says.
Instead, the UAE authorities have continued their crackdown on political activists and government critics, including those that have publicly spoken out in support of the UAE 94 or against the conditions of detention of those imprisoned.
“Rather than live up to the commitment made by the UAE to the Human Rights Council to “place human rights at the top of its priorities”, the UAE authorities have embarked on a sustained campaign to suppress any form of peaceful dissent and all calls for political reform,” Benarbia added. “They must comply with their obligations under international law and bring an end to this cycle of arbitrary arrest, detention, prosecution and unfair trials against of all those that dare to speak out.”
Key findings of the report:
- Most of the detainees were not informed of the reasons for their arrest and promptly notified of the charges against them.
- They were denied their right to prompt access to a lawyer, including during interrogation and were not brought before a judge or a judicial authority within 48 hours of their arrest.
- Most of the detainees were held in incommunicado detention and in secret and unofficial detention centres.
- They were also held in prolonged solitary confinement, which in some cases lasted more than 236 days.
- Most of the detainees were reportedly subjected to torture or other ill treatment by the authorities, including severe beatings, pulling out detainees’ hair, sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme light during the day and night, death threats and other threats and verbal abuse, as well as prolonged incommunicado detention and solitary confinement.
- The Court failed to investigate or order the investigation of such allegations.
- To the contrary, statements and “confessions” alleged to have been obtained as a result of torture or other ill-treatment were admitted as evidence by the court.
Said Benarbia, ICJ Senior Legal Adviser of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, tel: 41 22 979 38 17, e-mail: said.benarbia(a)icj.org
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