UAE Authorities Step Up Smear Campaign against Political Prisoners
On October 23rd the Emirates Human Rights Association (EHRA) held a press conference to discuss the case of the 64 political prisoners in the United Arab Emirates.
At the press conference the chairman of the EHRA, Abdulghafar Hussein, stated that they had met ten detainees on two visits and that reports of torture are unfounded. He stated that food for the detainees is being provided for by a 5* Abu Dhabi hotel and that they can speak to their families twice a week. A number of detainees’ families, too fearful to speak out publicly, have privately expressed their outraged by the statements made during the EHRA’s press conference.
This was the first occasion that the EHRA have commented on the crackdown against peaceful reformists and their website carries no information about the case. The EHRA is a government backed organization, it is not independent and it exists within a system where critical analysis of government actions is not tolerated and dealt with harshly.
The authorities are attempting to use an organization under its control to dismiss allegations of torture, lawyer intimidation and lack of due process and their actions are indicative of a regime with something to hide.
The press conference is the latest in a stream of efforts to counter the growing focus on the poor human rights record of the Emirates. In recent weeks there has been a sustained public relations campaign aimed at defending the actions of the authorities and publicly criminalizing the 64 individuals who they continue to hold without charge.
Several opinion pieces have appeared in government backed media stating that the detainees are religiously intolerant and seek to roll back women’s rights. The UAE ambassador to the UK made similar allegations in a comment piece for the Guardian, without providing any evidence. Islah’s views on religious freedom and women’s rights are made clear on their website and the links can be found below.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights condemns the actions of the Emirati authorities in continuing to deceive the public about the security services’ maltreatment of the detainees. We call upon the international community to support our call for the UAE to charge the detainees immediately or release them. If they are to be charged they should be provided with legal assistance. Evidence secured by torture must be deemed inadmissible in any future trial, which must be public and held in the presence of international observers.
The UAE authorities have misappropriated the language of human rights in an attempt to cover up their serious violations of human rights and their public smear campaign against the detainees is further evidence of their disregard for the rule of law in the Emirates.
Emirates Centre for Human Rights 26/10/2012
Notes to Editor:
1. ECHR is committed to monitoring the state of human rights, freedoms and democracy in the United Arab Emirates.
2. For further information including contacts for family members of the detainees please contact Rori Donaghy on: 07850062105 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org