Amnesty International recently published a new report entitled "There is no freedom here: Silencing dissent in the United Arab Emirates" (the report can be downloaded below).
In 2011, a group of 133 people addressed a petition to the authorities, calling for political reform and for the right to vote and elect a parliament. According to Amnesty International, "more than 100 peaceful activists and government critics have been prosecuted or jailed for politically motivated national security or cybercrimes offences since then. More than 60 of them continue to languish in prison, serving sentences of up to 14 years". Dr Mohamed Al-Roken, a leading human rights lawyer and founding member of Bridging the Gulf Foundation for human security in the Gulf region, was arrested in 2012, after defending human rights activists who were released after a Presidential amnesty. The human rights lawyer is still in prison and his basic rights are denied.
The trial of this group of activists, now well known as the "UAE 94" trial, has been widely criticised for its lack of partiality and transparence. In April 2013, a coalition of several organisations denounced the "serious pre-trial violations of fair trial rights by arbitrarily denying family members, international observers, and the international media access to the mass trial of 94 critics of the government". Since then, the defendants have been systematically denied their right to a fair trial.
This new report also focuses on the acts of torture and treatment in pre-trial secret detention facilities where the defendants were held incommunicado for months, without access to their lawyers and deprived of any contact with their family.
Let's recall the United Arab Emirates has ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as the Arab Charter on Human Rights.
Posted by Flavie Fuentes.