UAE: Activists tortured in prison for criticizing the government
United Arab Emirates, action created 30.9.2015, petition is active
Nine men from the United Arab Emirates were convicted on July 2nd, 2013 for criticizing the government and promoting democratic reforms. Among them were human rights defenders, teachers, students and judges. The conviction was a part of a series of mass processes in Abu Dhabi against critics of the government. All of them were found guilty of allegedly "establishing an organization with the aim to unseat the government."
Amnesty International believes that the only reason they were imprisoned was because they promoted democratic reforms, and so considers them prisoners of conscience.
"World leaders must not prioritize economic interests over human rights and ignore serious violations of fundamental rights in the United Arab Emirates. They should use their influence to see to it that all prisoners of conscience were released, and to respect their right to the freedom of expression, association and assembly, "said Said Boumedouha, deputy program director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa divisions.
Overall, the federal Supreme Court convicted a total of 94 activists. Sixty-nine defendants were sentenced to prison for a period ranging from seven to fifteen years. The process was unjust and blatantly violated the due process of law. For example, judges accepted as evidence of guilt "confessions" obtained under torture, and defendants were denied contact with lawyers. Several activists have complained that their signatures were forged on the confession.
The defendants said during the trial that they suffered from all forms of ill-treatment in prison. They were prevented from sleeping and spent long periods of time in solitary confinement. In addition, prison staff threatened them with electric shocks, rape, and death. The judge ignored all these allegations. Because activists were convicted by the Supreme Federal Court, none of them had the opportunity to appeal the judgment, which is inconsistent with the international obligations of the United Arab Emirates with respect to human rights.
Among the nine prisoners of conscience include: Professor of Constitutional Law and prominent human rights lawyer Dr Mohammed al-Roken; prominent human rights lawyer Dr Mohammed al-Mansoor; teacher Mohammed Saleh al-Dhufairi; teacher Hussain Ali al-Najjar al-Hammadi; nniversity professor and former judge Ahmed al-Zaabi; Ittihad University founder Sheikh Dr. Sultan Mohammed Kayed Al-Qassimi; university students Khalifa al-Nuaimi and Abdulla al-Hajri; and Dr. Ali Hussain al-Hammadi.
In November 2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stated that 61 activists were arrested and imprisoned for utilizing their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and association.
The Working Group also noted that the UAE courts are not independent of the executive, and that the defendants were denied the right to a fair trial. It requests the Government of the United Arab Emirates to release imprisoned activists and provide them with adequate compensation.