ECHR | Emirates Center for Human Rights

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HomeNewsAbdulla al-Hadidi sentenced to 10 months in prison for tweeting about the trial of the ‘UAE 94’Abdulla al-Hadidi sentenced to 10 months in prison for tweeting about the trial of the ‘UAE 94’

Abdulla al-Hadidi sentenced to 10 months in prison for tweeting about the trial of the ‘UAE 94’

08/04/2013

Abdulla al-Hadidi sentenced to 10 months in prison for tweeting about the trial of the ‘UAE 94’

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On April 8th 2013 the Court of First Instance in Abu Dhabi convicted Abdulla al-Hadidi of  ‘spreading false information’ about the trial of the UAE 94 on Twitter and sentenced him to ten months in prison.

Abdulla al-Hadidi is the son of Abdulrahman al-Hadidi, defendant in the trial of the UAE 94, and has used his Twitter account to report on court proceedings. Abdulla has attended all four sessions of the trial and reported on proceedings in the absence of international observers and foreign media who have been banned from what was supposed to be a public trial.

Al-Hadidi was arrested at his home in Sharjah by several plain-clothed members of the security services in the early hours of March 22nd. He was later transferred to al-Khaledyya prison in Abu Dhabi where he was charged with attacking a member of the security services and publishing false information about the trial of the UAE 94.

Al-Hadidi was cleared of attacking a member of the security services but convicted of spreading false information about the trial and sentenced to ten months in prison. The prosecutor requested that al-Hadidi be convicted under Article 1 of the Cybercrimes Decree, which is a law that has been described by Human Rights Watch as ‘effectively closing off the country’s only remaining forum for free speech’. Al-Hadidi becomes the first person to be convicted by the Cybercrimes Decree and his lawyer will appeal the court’s ruling.

This conviction is indicative of the severe restrictions on free expression in the United Arab Emirates. Al-Hadidi is a prisoner of conscience: he is in prison because he stood up to attempts by authorities to silence abuses taking place in the case of the UAE 94. His only crime has been to report on events in a trial that has been hidden from the world.

With international observers and foreign media banned from the UAE 94 trial it lay with defendants’ family members present in court to report on proceedings. The trial has seen accusations of torture go uninvestigated and various abuses of minimum fair trial standards take place. The final avenue of reporting the trial has been closed through al-Hadidi’s conviction and the banning of family members from future trial sessions.

We call upon the international community to demand an end to the flagrant human rights abuses taking place in the United Arab Emirates. The rulers of the United Arab Emirates are determined to silence all voices of dissent and criticism through whatever means necessary. As long as the international community remains silent authorities will continue to act with impunity.

Abdulla al-Hadidi must be released, observers permitted access to the trial of the UAE 94 and accusations of torture against political prisoners investigated independently. The United Arab Emirates currently has 128 political prisoners and with a national population of fewer than 1 million it leaves them with one of the highest per capita rates of political prisoners in the world.

The United Arab Emirates voluntarily signed the Convention Against Torture and was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council in July and November of 2012 respectively. It is high time the international community demanded that they uphold their commitments to human rights instead of permitting them to misappropriate the language of human rights to promote a faux image of a progressive liberal state.

 

Emirates Centre for Human Rights 08/04/2013

 

For further information please contact Rori Donaghy on: 07850062105 or email: campaigns@echr.org.uk

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