The United Nations (UN) Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) has condemned the imprisonment of political dissidents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and called for their immediate release.
The WGAD has stated that defendants in the “UAE 94” trial were arrested as a result of exercising their right to free expression, detained arbitrarily and subjected to an unfair trial. Their statement concluded by requesting the UAE Government to release the 61 men currently in prison and provide them with adequate reparations.
The “UAE 94” were accused of plotting to seize power and 69 defendants were found guilty in July 2012 after a trial that was roundly condemned by human rights organisations. The International Commission of Jurists described it as “manifestly unfair” and Human Rights Watch documented credible allegations of torture that were not investigated.
This statement by the WGAD comes a month after a UN Special Rapporteur released a report that called for an investigation into torture and which described the UAE’s judiciary as being under “de facto” control of the executive.
The UAE is a member of the UN Human Rights Council and its representatives have spoken of the country’s commitment to upholding human rights. On March 4th Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, said: “the UAE is committed to cooperating with Special Procedures…and to the success of the UN’s human rights mechanisms.”
Rori Donaghy, director of the Emirates Centre for Human Rights, said:
“This is a crucial test of the UAE Government’s commitment to upholding human rights and authorities must prove themselves by releasing these 61 political prisoners.
If authorities fail to release these men then it is difficult to avoid concluding that the UAE Government’s commitment to human rights is simply a public relations exercise with little substance.”