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UAE: Human rights defender Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith remains in prison as trial continues

2016-06-23

On 20 June 2016, a third hearing took place in the United Arab Emirates to examine charges against human rights defender and academic Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith relating to his online postings. Reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirmed that Dr. Bin Ghaith himself appeared before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi, which decided to adjourn the trial to 26 September 2016.

The hearing lasted for about an hour, and the lawyer of Dr. Bin Ghaith was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses. The lawyer was allowed a few questions only, some of which the judge refused, including a question that the lawyer started to ask about the meeting between Dr. Bin Ghaith and the Secretary General of Amnesty International, before the judge cut him off and prevented him from continuing his questions. Dr. Bin Ghaith was not allowed to provide testimony in court based on the excuse that he has a lawyer to speak for him, but the defendant stated that he was not able to sit and meet with the lawyer since the previous hearing on 23 May.

Reliable information received by GCHR said that the Security State Apparatus (SSA) is trying to link Dr. Bin Ghaith with an attempt to set up a youth movement that belongs to Al-Umma party. This is totally baseless as Dr. Bin Ghaith has no involvement in politics and this information never came up in the case documents before.

On 18 August 2015, Dr. Bin Ghaith was arrested and held incommunicado until finally being brought to court on 4 April 2016, when he was charged with allegedly “committing a hostile act against a foreign state,” “posting false information in order to harm the reputation and stature of the state and one of its institutions” and “posting false information about UAE leaders and their policies, offensively criticizing the construction of a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, and instigating the people of the UAE against their leaders and government.” For more information about the case, see: http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1260

GCHR condemns in the strongest term attempts by the SSA to fabricate charges against Dr. Bin Ghaith. GCHR sees it as part of an ongoing trend by the authorities to attack freedom of expression in the country and silence all critics.

Again GCHR renews its calls on the authorities in UAE to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Bin Ghaith and drop all charges against him;

2. Ensure that if his case proceeds, that it does so in a manner consistent with the UAE’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognised standards of due process and fair trial;

3. Investigate reports of torture and ill treatment in detention; and provide justice for those responsible and effective redress to Dr. Bin Ghaith;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights calls your attention to the rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms” in particular to Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other

appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”