Trial Observation Report: UAE 94
An observation report has been released today detailing the findings of a team of lawyers who attempted to attend the trial of the 94 individuals charged with setting up an organisation to ‘overthrow the state’ in the United Arab Emirates.
The 94 defendants, which include judges, lawyers, academics and student leaders, deny all charges and say they are on trial due to their peaceful calls for political reform. They accuse authorities of having tortured them in pre-trial detention and say that they are not being subjected to a fair trial.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights instructed a delegation of lawyers, led by Geoffrey Robertson QC and including Catherine Oborne from Tooks Chambers along with Graeme Irvine and Ravi Naik from ITN Solicitors, to attend the trial sessions held at the Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi during March 2013.
The delegation were denied access to the courtroom and told that there was a procedure in place to apply for access that must be followed to gain permission. After having complied with the application procedure, the delegation returned to Abu Dhabi on March 11th and were denied entry to the court again. An explanation was sought for the refusal, but none was offered. All foreign media and international observers have been blocked from attending trial sessions.
The report includes accounts of alleged torture against defendants, which have yet to be investigated, and details various violations of international fair trial standards. Geoffrey Robertson QC said that ‘the conduct of the Al Islah trial is a matter of increasing concern: the UAE authorities, if they are to avoid breaching universal human rights standards, must immediately open this trial up to international observation so justice can be seen to be done and it can be determined whether the long-detained defendants are dangerous, or whether they are being silenced merely for seeking political reforms in an undemocratic state’.
Since the delegation has returned Abdulla al-Hadidi, son of the defendant Abdulrahman al-Hadidi, has been sentenced to ten months in prison for tweeting about the trial sessions he attended. Graeme Irvine commented: ‘The recent arrest and detention of Mr. al-Hadidi has compounded and entrenched the failings in this trial and we echo calls for the international community to request an end to this accelerating repression of political activists’.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights calls on the UAE authorities to:
- Ensure that improvements are made to the trial process to guarantee the fair trial of the detainees;
- Prevent further mistreatment of detainees & investigate claims of torture that have been made to date;
- Protect all of the defendants from arbitrary and prolonged periods of detention.
The full report can be accessed on the Emirates Centre for Human Rights website here.
For further details and comment please contact:
- Graeme Irvine, ITN Solicitors, on +44 (0)7966898234 email@example.com
- Rori Donaghy, Emirates Centre for Human Rights, on +44 (0)785 006 2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Emirates Centre for Human Rights 29/04/2013