Restrictions Tighten on UAE Trial of Political Activists as Families Banned from Court Room & Relatives Set to be Arrested
UAE authorities have told families of the ninety-four political activists on trial accused of sedition that they will not be allowed to attend the next court session, due to be held on March 26th. Also, Abdulla al-Hadidi, son of the defendant Abdulrahman al-Hadidi, was arrested in the early hours of March 22nd and an anonymous member of the security services has stated that forty-one relatives of the defendants are due to be arrested.
Following trial sessions on March 18th and 19th, where the court heard from prosecution witnesses, families were informed that they would be unable to attend the next session on March 26th. International observers and foreign media have been denied access to all trial hearings. As a result, families of the accused have worked tirelessly to reveal court proceedings as domestic media has failed to cover the allegations of torture and lack of due process taking place. We believe that families have been denied access due to their leaking of court proceedings.
Abdulla al-Hadidi, son of Abdulrahman al-Hadidi, is being held at al-Khaledyya police station in Abu Dhabi after being arrested on March 22nd. Abdulla has attended the four court sessions so far and used social media to speak out about perceived abuses. Indeed, Abdulla has also been speaking to the media and international observers as well as playing a key role in collating all allegations from each of the defendants’ families. Authorities state that Abdulla is facing ‘financial charges’.
Further, an anonymous source from the security services has told the Emirates Centre for Human Rights that forty-one of the defendants’ relatives are due to be arrested in the coming days. This is also believed to be linked to their use of social media in spreading details of court proceedings.
By banning families from attending the next trial session, as well as previously barring international observers and foreign media, the authorities are stopping anyone being present that may provide criticism of the trial. What was supposed to be a public trial has swiftly become a secret one as authorities seek to cover up allegations of torture and lack of due process.
In court there have been serious allegations of torture, claims of no proper legal process and severe restrictions imposed on defence lawyers. Authorities are taking the ninety-four defendants, and their families, through a deeply flawed and unfair trial that will in no way serve justice.
We again call upon the international community to demand that the UAE investigate torture allegations, release family members from prison and allow international observers access to the trial. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Independence of Judges and Lawyers must investigate both allegations of torture and lack of independence in this trial.
Emirates Centre for Human Rights 22/03/2013
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