Emirati human rights activist Obaid Yousif Al-Zaabi remains detained in the prisoners’ ward of Sheikh Khalifa Medical City Hospital in Abu Dhabi as he suffers from advanced arthritis and rheumatism and has difficulty walking, despite the fact that he has been acquitted of all charges made against him. The State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi acquitted Al-Zaabi on June 24, 2014 from the charges made against him, which include offending the Supreme Court, offending the State Security Apparatus and instigating people against the rulers and the security of the State.
Although Obaid Yousif Al-Zaabi was not found guilty of any charges made against him, he still remains imprisoned and is being deprived of his basic human rights, such as his right to immediate release and family visitations.
Al-Zaabi was initially arrested on July 2, 2013 for posting tweets on his Twitter account criticising the “UAE 94” trial; a mass trial of 94 reform advocates accused of plotting to overthrow the government in the United Arab Emirates, although no evidence was presented by the prosecution during trials flawed with several violations. The defendants were also subject to blatant violations of their rights.
He was later released on August 4, 2013 due to his poor health. However, he was later re-arrested on December 12, 2013 for giving an interview to CNN on December 11, 2013 regarding the case of the young American man, Shezanne Cassim, who was imprisoned after making a parody video of youth in Dubai and was not given a trial until after he was arbitrarily arrested and detained for a long period of time.
In addition to being in poor health, there are concerns that Al-Zaabi is being subject to torture, human rights violations, and mistreatment.
Al-Zaabi’s arrest is an attempt on the UAE’s part to silence voices critical of the human rights situation in the UAE, even those who do so by peaceful means.
Al-Zaabi still has not been released, despite there being no charges against him or legal grounds to hold him.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights emphasises the fact that Al-Zaabi’s detention despite his acquittal is a crime punishable by law to all those participating in this crime, include members of the Emirati authorities who have not implemented his acquittal and released him.
Therefore, the ECHR urges the Emirati authorities to take the following actions:
1. Immediately release Obaid Yousif Al-Zaabi because he is being illegally and arbitrarily held and there is no legal basis for his detention.
2. The ECHR also demands he is given access to his lawyer and family without any restrictions or conditions. The centre also demands he is provided with all necessary medical care. His only crime is exercising his right to free expression.
3. Prosecute those who have been proven to have violated the rule of law by detaining Al-Zaabi despite his acquittal.
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