UAE: 30 political activists found guilty in unfair trial

All defendants have been found guilty of vague national security charges in a politically motivated trial of 20 Egyptians and 10 Emiratis in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


20 Egyptians have been sentenced to between 6 months and 5 years in prison. Prominent Emirati activist Saleh al-Dhufeiri has been sentenced to 4 years and 3 months and the other 9 Emirati defendants have been given prison terms of 1 year and 3 months along with fines of 3,000 AED (£500). Defendants have no right to appeal.


The 30 men were convicted of ambiguous charges including the establishment of an “international” branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, the theft and distribution of secret information from the security services, and failing to notify authorities of the theft.


The case has been marred by a litany of human rights abuse against the Egyptian detainees: arrested without warrants, held incommunicado at an unknown location for prolonged periods, denied access to legal representation, and authorities have failed to investigate credible allegations of torture.


All 10 Emirati defendants are already serving lengthy prison sentences after being convicted in an unfair trial of 94 political dissidents during July 2013, including Saleh al-Dhufeiri is now serving an additional 4 years and 3 months on top of his original 10-year sentence.  Amnesty International considers Mr. al-Dhufeiri a prisoner of conscience and have called for his release.


Unfair and unjust political trials are becoming the norm in the UAE, with defendants having their fundamental rights violated and courts failing to uphold international fair trial standards. Authorities are targeting individuals solely on the basis of their political beliefs, charging them with barely recognisable crimes and convicting them on the basis of flimsy evidence.


It is of increasing concern that authorities not only target activists themselves, but are exacting collective punishment against their families. This can be seen by the recent detention of an Emirati’s wife and the widespread use of indefinite and unofficial travel bans against the families of activists.


Restrictions on free speech have led to those who speak out against these violations being put in prison for violating the country’s revised and repressive cybercrimes laws. A number of people have been detained for the use of social media, with the latest being a teenager who is serving a 3-year prison sentence for tweeting about human rights violations.


Rori Donaghy, director, said:


“In the absence of a proper legal process and an investigation into credible allegations of torture these convictions lack all credibility. Authorities must end their crackdown against peaceful political activists by upholding their commitment to protecting the human rights of all who live in the UAE.


With well over 100 political prisoners, and a national population of fewer than 1 million, the UAE has one of the highest per capita rates of political prisoners in the world.”


The Emirates Centre for Human Rights urges authorities to release all prisoners held solely on the basis of their political beliefs and calls for an independent and impartial investigation into all allegations of torture.


For further information please contact Rori Donaghy on +447850062105 or at campaigns@echr.org.uk