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suprem court

Geneva, March 4, 2016

Today is the third anniversary of the beginning of UAE94 trialin the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This trial, which began on 4 March 2013 before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi, is another opportunity to give support to all activists and to let them know they do not stand alone in their fight for their freedoms and rights.

We recall that the anniversary of this mass trial coincides with the anniversary of the reform petition from a group of 132 pro-reform activists addressed to the UAE President on March 2011, which only called for constitutional reform and increased political participation. The petition elicited an uncompromisingly repressive response from the UAE government and many of its signatories, and their families, have been harassed, arbitrarily arrested, or imprisoned in the five years since they put their names to their call for reform.

In 2013, the notorious mass trial of the UAE 94 Group exposed the dark reality of the UAE which tries to muzzle dissent. In fact, three years ago an unfair mass trial taken place and several activists were convicted at this mass UAE 94 trial, some in abstentia, others for 7 to 15 years imprisonment, solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including prominent human rights defenders, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, academics, political activists and all of who were reportedly linked by the prosecution, to Al- Islah. Afterwards, the UAE continues its policy of harassment, secret, arbitrary and prolonged incommunicado detention, torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, and other unfair trials targeting activists. The UAE uses its laws, like the 2014 counter-terrorism law and its vague and overly broad definition of terrorism as a pretext to curtail human rights and target human rights defenders and others, to silence social media activists and others who support and defend freedom of expression online.

The mentioned trial failed to meet international fair trial standards and was widely condemned by many human rights organizations and UN bodies, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. During the trial, the UAE took steps to prevent independent reporting of the proceedings. International media and independent trial observers were not permitted access to the court and UAE denies International Legal Observer access to verdict in the trial of UAE 94 Group.

Now, as the UAE has become a member reelected of the Human Rights Council, and on the occasion of the anniversaries of the International Covenant on civil and political rights, the International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights and the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, it could be a strong symbol if the UAE acceded to these treaties this year.

3years after the trial and the severe sentences that resulted, the Authorities in Rezin Prison continue their repressive practices mainly against prisoners of conscience and in particular the “UAE 94” group. They inflict severe sanctions and deprive them of their most basic rights for trivial reasons. Prisoners are subjected to a series of persecution including:

  • Prolonged solitary confinement in inhumane conditions
  • Systematic search without any respect for prisoners’ decency and dignity
  • Providing small amounts of food, bad food and lack of hygiene
  • Banning visits to children and relatives of prisoners including those with disabilities
  • Blocking access to all means of information
  • Systematic insults and humiliation
  • Lack of ventilation in cells, which creates unsafe and unhealthy conditions
  • Making them pay for telephone calls, cutting the line for trivial reasons and often preventing them to make calls
  • Preventing all means of entertainment and education
  • Denying adequate health care for prisoners with conditions or elderly prisoners

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) which condemns the UAE’s disregard of the right to a fair and public trial, additionally calls on the international community to strongly hold the UAE accountable to its international commitments, for example, by asking the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to revisit the case of the UAE 94, or the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment to investigate all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment against the detainees. The ICJHR also urgently calls on the UAE to implement recommendations made by the UN bodies and international human rights organizations to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release all those detained or imprisoned in UAE, solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, specifically all activists convicted at the mass UAE 94 trial
  2. Stop the policy of slow death and mistreatment of the UAE 94 group
  3. Ensure that all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment are promptly, independently, impartially and thoroughly investigated, that those responsible are held to account, and that the victims have access to effective remedies and to reparation
  4. Ensure that all persons deprived of their liberty receive a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial court in accordance with international human rights standards, including by having the right to appeal the judgment before a higher court or tribunal
  5. Ensure that all members of the UAE 94 Group have immediate access to their family and relatives and a lawyer, and that they receive any medical attention they may require
  6. Adhere, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, to its obligations to uphold human rights at home, including respecting the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, all of which are recognized and protected by the UAE Constitution and international human rights law
  7. Take definitive measures to prohibit secret detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment
  8. Take measures to end unfair trials in the UAE in order to comply with its international duties
  9. Amend the Article 101 of its Constitution which denies the right of defendants to appeal by stipulating that, “the judgements of the Union Supreme Court shall be final and binding upon all”, with a view to bringing it into full conformity with the its obligations under international human rights law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  10. Respect the internationally recognized rights and freedoms of its citizens and its international commitments and obligations especially those made during the session of Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review in 2013

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