The unjust trial of Emirati human rights defender Osama Hussain Al-Najjar, a 25-year-old engineer from Ajman, continues. He is due to appear before the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi for third hearing date on November 25, 2014 on charges including “belonging to the Al-Islah organisation, offending the State via Twitter, instigating hatred against the State via Twitter and spreading lies about the torture of his father, Hussain Al-Najjar” who is one of the prisoners in the group known as the “UAE 94”, who is currently serving an 11-year jail term for his human rights activities.
Osama Al-Najjar was initially arrested on March 17, 2014 after visiting his father in prison. His home was searched for two hours, without a warrant, and his computer, along with other electronics were seized. He was then blindfolded and taken to an undisclosed place, and kept in interrogation for long periods of time, only given breaks to eat and pray. His family was not informed of his whereabouts and only found out through unofficial sources.
He had recently had surgery on his knees that still had not healed properly, but was still subject to torture, which rendered him unable to walk at one point. Only after his situation deteriorated was he taken to the prison doctor. Other forms of torture he endured includes repeated blows to the face, ears, and legs with electrical wires, as well as being subject to extreme cold by means of air conditioners aimed directly at him and set to the lowest temperature setting.
He suffered 6 months of pre-trial detention, and his first hearing before the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi was scheduled on September 23, 2014. During the trial, the court heard his case and postponed the hearing to October 14, 2014. This was the first time that Osama Al-Najjar appeared before the Court, and only two of his family members were allowed to attend. In addition to this, the State Security forces reportedly selected which media representatives could be present in the courtroom.
On October 14, 2014, Al-Najjar’s second hearing was scheduled to take place during which Al-Najjar said he was prepared to plead his case on October 19th, but the Court, once again, postponed the hearing to October 28, 2014, deciding that it would hear pleadings from both the defence and the prosecution. This would not allow the defence sufficient time to respond to the prosecution in court. There was also no confirmation that Al-Najjar had received the case file in order to prepare his defence.
Following the hearing, Al-Najjar refused to get into the police car before speaking with his lawyer, who he had not been given proper access to, and although his request was denied, his insistence forced police to allow him to speak with his lawyer for three minutes in the corridor outside the courtroom, handcuffed and shackled. The conversation took place amongst a group of police officers and security forces.
If Al-Najjar is convicted of these charges, he will not have the right to appeal.
Such trials have become common due to the UAE’s growing attempts to silence all critical voices condemning human rights violations in the UAE.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights (ECHR) is deeply concerned by Osama Al-Najjar’s unjust trial and continued detention all because he peacefully exercised his rights to freedom of expression and his advocacy on behalf of his father, who has also had his human rights violated.
The ECHR urges the Emirati authorities to:
1. Immediately and unconditionally release Osama Al-Najjar and drop all charges against him. He is a prisoner of conscience held solely for exercising his rights.
2. Stop all torture and ill treatment practiced against him and give him access to his lawyer and any medical attention he may require.
3. Order an independent investigation into Osama Al-Najjar’s allegations of torture and other ill treatment, and prosecute all those responsible.
For further information please contact Lara Adam on +44(0) 7473773136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.