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UAE: Rights groups call on UN to help free academic Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith

2016-10-04

Special Procedures Branch

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

CH-1211 Geneva 10

Switzerland

urgent-action@ohchr.org

4 October 2016

**URGENT and confidential**

COUNTRY: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

INDIVIDUAL: Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith; economist, academic, human rights defender

CONCERN: Freedom of expression and association, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, torture and other ill-treatment, unfair trial                       

We, the undersigned organizations, request that this communication be brought to the urgent attention of the:

  • Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders;
  • Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
  • Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association;
  • Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
  • Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism;
  • Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers;
  • Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (wgad@ohchr.org);
  • Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (wgeid@ohchr.org)

We respectfully seek your urgent help in securing the release of Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, a human rights defender, who has been arbitrarily detained for over a year and is on trial in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for his peaceful exercise of his rights to free expression, association and peaceful assembly. A prominent economist, academic and human rights defender, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is facing charges that carry a potential sentence of life imprisonment or the death penalty. His latest hearing was on 26 September and the next one will take place on 17 October 2016.

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was arrested in Abu Dhabi by officers from the UAE’s State Security body on 18 August 2015. He was held in solitary confinement in a secret detention facility in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance for over nine months until after the start of his trial in April 2016. He says that he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated during this time. He had no access to a lawyer, even though he was repeatedly interrogated, and was only allowed to meet his lawyer for the first time at his second trial session, which took place on 2 May 2016.

The UAE authorities also consistently refused to provide Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s family with any information about his whereabouts during his entire pre-trial detention period. Indeed, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith himself told the judge at trial that he was being held in secret detention and that neither he, nor his family, nor his lawyer had information about where he was detained. Despite this, in a 31 May 2016 response to a joint communication sent from the UN Special Procedures Branch earlier that month, the authorities alleged that Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s family had been informed of the place in which he was detained. 

The UAE response also claimed that Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was arrested only after having been informed of the grounds for his arrest. However, the undersigned organizations understand from credible independent sources that he was not informed of the charges against him until they were revealed to him at the second trial session.

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is being tried on baseless charges, which stem solely from his peaceful activities, including his posts on the social media website Twitter expressing peaceful criticism of the human rights records of the UAE and Egyptian governments and calling for greater human rights and freedoms. His charges also relate to unplanned meetings he had during his travels in the region with peaceful political activists whom the UAE government has designated as members of alleged terrorist organizations.[1]

The charges brought against him are based on broad and vague provisions under the Penal Code, cybercrime law, and the 2014 counterterror law,[2] all of which the UAE authorities have used in recent years to imprison peaceful critics and activists.[3] UAE residents known to have spoken with rights groups are also at serious risk of arbitrary detention and imprisonment under these laws.[4]

The authorities have argued that Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s peaceful Twitter posts about the Egyptian government constitute an “instigation against the UAE” which “endangers the State security.” They have also considered his tweets to be a “hostile action” against a friendly country. The meetings with UAE citizens in exile, while travelling or at conferences to which he was invited, are considered by the authorities as amounting to “cooperating with terrorist and secret organizations.”

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was previously arrested in April 2011 alongside four other activists and human rights defenders, and, following an unfair trial, sentenced to two years’ imprisonment for “publicly insulting the UAE President, Vice-President, and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi” for peaceful comments posted on an online discussion forum. After spending almost eight months in detention, he was pardoned by the UAE’s President after international condemnation.

We, the undersigned organizations, express grave concern at the seriousness of the new charges brought against Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, which make it likely that he will receive an extremely harsh sentence, such as life imprisonment or even the death penalty. Even worse, although the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court is a court of first instance, its judgements are final and binding, meaning that if Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith were to be convicted, he would have no right of appeal to a higher court.

We believe that the UAE authorities have arbitrarily deprived Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith of his liberty and we consider him a prisoner of conscience. The UAE authorities previously responded to international pressure when Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was subjected to an unfair trial in 2011, including through communications from UN human rights bodies.[5] They may do so again if you help us to draw attention to his case.

In the experience of the undersigned organizations, the UAE authorities rarely take action to remedy the situation of prisoners of conscience unless public statements of concern are made by bodies such as the UN.  We therefore respectfully call on you, as a matter of urgency, to use all means available, both public and private, to urge the authorities to release Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith immediately and unconditionally, as he has been detained solely for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly, in his capacity as a human rights defender.

Since Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s trial could end soon, we ask you to give this matter your urgent attention.

Please see Appendix I for full details of the arrest, detention and trial so far of Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith. If you need further information please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yours sincerely,

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)

Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS)

FIDH, within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Front Line Defenders

Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

Scholars at Risk

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

APPENDIX I

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is a prominent economist, academic and human rights defender with experience in pro-democracy activism. He is a financial analyst specializing in economic trading blocs, and was previously a professor at the UAE Armed Forces Staff College, as well as a lecturer of International Economic Law at La Sorbonne, Abu Dhabi. Along with four others, he was previously arrested and tried in 2011 for calling for economic, political and social reforms in the UAE.

ARREST AND DETENTION

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was arrested without a judicial warrant at 2:00pm on 18 August 2015 at his workplace in Abu Dhabi by plain-clothes officers from the UAE’s State Security body. They took him to his home in Dubai where 13 State Security officers carried out a search between 4:00pm and 8:30pm, confiscating a number of items, before taking him to a secret detention facility run by the UAE’s State Security body.[6] The State Security officers did not inform Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith or his family of the reasons for his arrest, nor did they explain where they were going to detain him. The family’s repeated requests for information from the UAE authorities were ignored. Neither Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith nor his family were ever informed of his whereabouts and he was not allowed to have visits with them until after the second trial session on 2 May 2016 when he was moved to an official prison. He was denied the right to access a lawyer during his entire pre-trial detention period.

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was only moved out of secret detention and into Al-Sadr Prison in Abu Dhabi on 18 May 2016 after the second court hearing, during which he complained repeatedly to the judge that he was still being held at an unknown location. Al-Sadr Prison is used primarily to hold foreign prisoners and the conditions there are extremely poor. Moreover, even in Al-Sadr Prison Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is being held in a solitary confinement cell in the maximum security wing and was confined to his cell for 24 hours a day, eating and using toilet facilities within the cell. Since he was moved to the prison, he has only been allowed one telephone call with his family and has not been permitted any telephone contact with his lawyer.

TRUMPED UP CHARGES

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith faces a total of five charges under various laws, charges which are based solely on his peaceful activities, including posts made on Twitter and email correspondence with members of a political party established by UAE citizens outside the country in 2012.

First charge

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is charged with “committing a hostile act against a foreign state” and “attempting to put UAE-Egyptian relations at risk.” The prosecution alleges that he has done this through his Twitter account by “verbally abusing Egypt’s political leadership, figures and policies via the Internet.” 

These charges stem from comments that Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith posted on Twitter, in which he expressed peaceful criticism of the Egyptian authorities. His Twitter feed contains numerous comments between 23 June 2015 and 14 August 2015 relating to political events in Egypt, including comments made around the anniversary of the Egyptian security forces’ mass killing of demonstrators at Raba’a Square two years earlier. The tweets that appear to have been used as “evidence” against him (including some of those listed below) have been argued to have “undermined the political relationship between UAE and Egypt and jeopardized [UAE] interests, subject to retaliation.”

14 August 2015: Fighting injustice is not a choice but an inevitable destiny when it affects lives. #RabaaSquare, the painful memory

11 August 2015: My stance against the system in Egypt does not mean that I do not wish progress and revival for the country, even under his leadership [Sisi’s]; it’s the opposite, because the system will disappear and Egypt will remain. A mere clarification.

24 July 2015: Egypt needs a republican resolution to refer the Egyptian judiciary to itself to justice.

3 June 2015: After watching Merkel and Sisi’s press conference, I became more convinced that the regime in Egypt is doomed to collapse if left on its own.

30 June 2015: Is there anyone left who believes that a judicial system really exists in Egypt? No I don’t think so.

It appears that the UAE authorities may be using Article 166 of the Penal Code to prosecute Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith for expressing peaceful criticism of the Egyptian authorities. This provision provides for a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment for anyone who commits any “hostile act” against a foreign country that could jeopardize political relations or expose the UAE to retaliatory measures.

Second charge

The second charge imposed on Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is “establishing and running an electronic website on the World Wide Web” [namely his Twitter account] “with the purpose of inciting acts and disseminating information and posting pictures that would undermine the state security and public order.”

This charge appears to be based on a Twitter post by Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith on 17 August 2015, in which he posted a picture of a Hindu Temple in Abu Dhabi, along with the caption “it seems our people’s understanding of tolerance in religion is all wrong.

The prosecution has argued that his post “offensively criticized the construction of a Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi, and instigated the people of the UAE against their leaders and government.” The prosecution has accused him of “trying to stir religious unrest that can pose a threat to the security of the UAE and undermine the domestic and external state security and public order.”

Third charge

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is charged with using his Twitter account to “post false information in order to harm the reputation and stature of the State and one of its institutions” based on comments he posted on Twitter relating to his unfair trial in 2011 in the “UAE 5” case.[7]

The authorities are using as evidence against him, a Twitter post in which he said regarding the trial, “I have been oppressed and did not receive a fair trial.” The authorities have argued in court that he made this statement in order to “depict the judiciary in the UAE as unfair, an act that undermines its reputation and stature among its citizens and before other countries.”

The authorities appear to be using provisions under the highly repressive 2012 cybercrime law, including Articles 28 and 29, to prosecute Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith for these charges. The cybercrime law, which came into force in November 2012, contains broad and sweeping provisions that severely constrain freedom of expression. The authorities have used this law increasingly as a means to silence any form of online dissent and to prosecute activists calling for greater rights and freedoms and/or express peaceful criticism of the government.

Article 28 provides imprisonment, without defining the maximum term, and a fine of up to one million dirhams (USD $272,000), to anyone who “manages or runs a website or uses information on a computer network or information technology means with intent to incite acts or publishes or transmits information, news or cartoon drawings or any other pictures which may endanger the national security and the higher interests of the State or afflicts its public order.”

Article 29 provides the same punishment to anyone who criticizes the UAE authorities. It punishes: “whoever publishes information, news statements or rumours on a website…with intent to make sarcasm or damage the reputation, prestige or stature of the State or any of its institutions or its President, Vice-President, any of the rulers of the Emirates, their crown princes, or the deputy rulers of the Emirates, the State flag, the national peace, its logo, national anthem or any of its symbols.”

Fourth charge

The UAE authorities are also using the “UAE 94” case – in which 94 activists and government critics were prosecuted in an unfair trial on the baseless and politically-motivated charge of “establishing and managing a secret organization [Al-Islah] with intent to overthrow the government” – to impose a fourth charge against Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith. He has been charged with “collaborating with the illegal clandestine organization” [meaning Al-Islah], “which was dissolved by virtue of the verdict in the criminal case 79 of 2012, and which calls for antagonizing the key principles of the regime in the State in order to overturn the regime and seize power.” The unfair mass trial held before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in 2013 saw 69 individuals convicted and sentenced to between seven and 15 years’ imprisonment, despite serious torture allegations and gross violations of international fair trial standards.[8]

It appears that the “evidence” the prosecution is using against Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith includes:

  • His meeting with Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty[9] and his lawyer Dr. Mohammad Al-Roken in a Dubai hotel in December 2011, following his release from prison. Dr. Mohammed Al-Roken is a prominent academic and human rights lawyer who represented Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith in his first trial in 2011 and who himself was later one of the 69 people convicted in the 2013 UAE 94 case and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment;
  • Meetings with individuals linked to Al-Islah, including: Sheikh Dr. Sultan Kayed Mohammed Al-Qassimi, a senior member of the ruling family in Ras Al-Khaimah emirate who helped found Ittihad University in the UAE and headed the Al-Islah board of directors; high profile lawyer Dr. Mohammed Al-Mansoori; student and blogger Khalifah Al-Nuaimi; and vice president of the UAE’s National Union of Students Mansour Al-Ahmadi. All these individuals were convicted at the UAE 94 trial and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, with the exception of Mansour Al-Ahmadi who received a seven-year prison term;
  • Meeting at a conference in Qatar with UAE national Abdulrahman Omar Bajubair and his wife Ala’ Al-Sideeq in their capacities as members of the Al-Islah association. Following an unfair trial in December 2013, Abdulrahman Omar Bajubair had been sentenced in absentia under the cybercrime law to five years’ imprisonment on charges, including “offending the honour of the judges of the Federal Supreme Court” and “publicly breaching the prestige of the court”, based on his peaceful activities on Twitter; and
  • Meeting two UAE citizens convicted in absentia, as well as other activists from UAE, during a family holiday in Turkey. They had learned about his trip though his Twitter account and asked to meet with him in June 2015.   

Fifth charge

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith has also been charged with “collaborating with a ‘terrorist’ organization,” namely the UAE Ummah Party, a political party established by a number of UAE nationals outside the country in August 2012. The authorities have accused him of doing this by “attending meetings of its members to be acquainted with their future plans for the organization’s action in the UAE and providing advice, giving lectures to members at special centres in order to disseminate the political opposition thought on ruling the country through illegitimate ways while knowing the truth of the Organization and its illegitimate objectives.” In November 2014, the Ummah Party appeared in a list of more than 80 groups that the UAE authorities had designated as terrorist organizations.[10]

It appears that the charges against Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith are based on the following:

  • Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s meeting with the founder and secretary-general of the UAE Ummah Party Hassan Al-Diqqi during his family trip to Turkey in 2013;
  • An email that the prosecution alleges Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith sent to Hassan Al-Diqqi in August 2013, in which they claim he discussed joining efforts to stand up against the State Security’s encroachment upon the state and the notion of that the UAE is a police state. Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith has denied sending this email;
  • The Khaleej Times reported[11] that Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith had given lectures “that promote these groups” [meaning Al-Islah and Ummah]. Video recordings[12] of one such presentation, available online, shows the Umma secretary-general, Hassan Al-Diqqi, introducing Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith as an academic who proceeded to give a presentation on the challenges facing the Islamic Economy;
  • A letter that the prosecution alleges Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith sent to Hassan Al-Diqqi on 8 December 2012, in which he allegedly states “I hope that you do not rush the announcement of the establishment of the movement so that we will not provoke the security agencies.” Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith has denied any knowledge of the letter;
  • The solidarity expressed by the UAE Ummah Party account on Twitter[13] after Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s arrest and during his long period of enforced disappearance, as well as the party’s unilateral announcement that it was appointing him as head of their board while he was still in secret detention without access to the outside world.

A 5 May 2016 Twitter statement[14] attributed to Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s family rejected the Ummah party claims on social media that he is the party chairman. The statement questioned the timing of that claim, which Ummah first made on 1 May 2016, the day before Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s trial session and the same day that they uploaded to YouTube the presentation he gave in 2013. 

FAIR TRIAL CONCERNS

As with his 2011 trial held before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s new trial is also grossly unfair.

All trials held before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court are inherently unfair. Although it is a court of first instance, under UAE law, nobody tried before this court has a right of appeal before a higher tribunal. This means that, should Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith be convicted and sentenced, he will have no right to appeal the verdict, in contravention of international fair trial standards.

Following his arrest on 18 August 2015, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was held in conditions amounting to enforced disappearance and in long-term solitary confinement for eight months, until well after his trial had already begun. He was not informed of the charges against him until after his trial had begun. He was denied access to his lawyer during this time and was not allowed to meet him until the second hearing was in session.

After nearly eight months of enforced disappearance, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith appeared in a glass containment area surrounded by armed guards, before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi on 4 April 2016; the hearing was closed, except to family members and to UAE state media. He was only able to see his lawyer for the first time after the second court session on 2 May 2016 and, even then, he was not allowed to talk to him or meet him privately, thereby denying his right to a reasonable defence. According to informed sources, during the first session, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith complained to the court that he was being held in secret detention but it appears the court took no action to remedy this and ensure that he was placed in an official place of detention. He also told the court that he had been tortured by State Security officers, including through being held in long-term solitary confinement, sleep-deprivation, and severe beatings with a long stick used to hit the soles of his feet. It appears that, instead of ordering an independent investigation into his torture allegations, the presiding judge got angry and said “how do you know you are in secret detention” and shut down the microphone on him, so that his voice could not be heard in court.

The court, which had failed to inform Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith of the charges against him during the first trial session, only revealed them at the second trial session on 2 May 2016. During this session, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith complained again that the authorities had continued to hold him in secret detention and that he had continued to be denied the right to meet his lawyer, despite his lawyer’s numerous attempts to meet with him. The judge apparently replied to his complaint about secret detention by saying “it is not a secret, you are detained for a case." Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is understood to have replied to the judge “how is it not secret if myself, my family, or the lawyer do not know where it is, and every night they transfer me to a different cell.” On 18 May 2016, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith was then moved after this hearing to the official prison, Al-Sader Prison in Abu Dhabi, following an order by the judge.

During the fourth hearing on 20 June 2016, the prosecution brought witnesses from the State Security body and criminal laboratory to give evidence against Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith but the judge refused to allow his lawyer the right to properly cross-examine them. When his lawyer attempted to ask a question about Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s meeting with Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty in December 2011, he was immediately cut off by the judge and prevented from asking further questions. Some of the “evidence” against Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith as raised by the witnesses includes an economic study that he wrote for the Gulf Center for Development Policies, which was published in 2014.[15]

Although the court did not permit Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith to speak, using the justification that he had a lawyer present who could speak on his behalf, he was able to say that he had been prevented from meeting his lawyer since the second hearing on 2 May 2016.

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith is on trial alongside the founder and head of the Ummah party, Hassan Al-Diqqi. It is unclear why the two men are on trial together.

Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith appeared before the State Security chamber of the Federal Supreme Court on 26 September 2016 on charges related to his peaceful exercise of his rights to free expression, association and peaceful assembly that carry a potential sentence of life in prison or the death penalty. The hearing was brief, lasting only about five minutes, after the prosecution requested a postponement. The judge was changed for this hearing, but may return for the next hearing. The prosecution was expected to present its case at this hearing, and the defence was also expecting to have the opportunity to present his case.

A coalition of human rights organizations sent an independent trial observer to attend Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith’s 26 September 2016 hearing, but he was refused entry to the court and told he must apply for permission in advance.


[1] In November 2014, the UAE authorities approved a list of organizations they blacklisted as terror groups, in line with the 2014 counterterror law, Federal Law No. 7 of 2014 on combating terrorist crimes. The list puts known terror groups such as Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and Boko Haram, alongside American organizations that represent Muslims – the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim American Society – that are not designated as terror groups by the US government. In a political move, the list also contains indigenous UAE group such as Al-Islah, (Reform and Social Guidance Association) which was legally founded in 1974 with the approval of Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, the then Ruler of Dubai. Al-Islah is not known to have used or advocated violence. Some of its members signed a pro-democracy petition in 2011 and have subsequently faced harassment, intimidation, or arbitrary arrest, detention, and prosecution. The increasing government crackdown on those with alleged links to Al-Islah, including activists and their families, has led to the long-term imprisonment of many of its members and has prompted a number to leave the UAE to seek international protection in third countries.

[2] Repressive laws such as the 2014 counterterror law  provides the death penalty for people whose activities are found to “undermine national unity or social peace,” neither of which are defined in the law. See Human Rights Watch 3 December 2014, available at https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/12/03/uae-terrorism-law-threatens-lives-liberty

[3] For example, in February 2015, the UAE’s State Security body arrested and held in secret detention three sisters, Asma Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, Maryam Khalifa Al-Suwaidi and Alyaziyah Khalifa Al-Suwaidi, who had campaigned peacefully on Twitter for the release of their brother, Dr ‘Issa Al-Suwaidi, a prisoner of conscience sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment following the UAE 94 trial. In a 3 March reply to a Communication sent by various UN Special Rapporteurs expressing concern at the enforced disappearance of the women, the UAE government said they had been arrested on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization. The women were subjected to enforced disappearance for three months without any access to a lawyer or their family and were never informed of any charges against them. See https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/05/uae-three-sisters-released-after-three-months-in-secret-detention/

[4] See Human Rights Watch 15 May 2016, available at https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/15/uae-free-two-jailed-criticizing-egypt

[5] See: Communications Report of Special Procedures, Human Rights Council, Eighteenth session, 9 September 2011, A/HRC/18/51; Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez, Human Rights Council, Nineteenth session, 29 February 2012, A/HRC/19/61/Add.4.

[6] There is strong evidence that torture and other ill-treatment is used routinely against detainees in the secret detention centres run by the UAE’s State Security body, often to extract “confessions” that are later used as evidence against detainees to convict them in unfair trials. See: Gulf Centre for Human Rights report Torture and Abuse in Prisons in the United Arab Emirates, 12 March 2015, available at http://www.gc4hr.org/report/view/33

[7] Communication sent by Mandates of the Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to the UAE government, 27 September 2011, https://spdb.ohchr.org/hrdb/19th/UA_UAE_27.09.2011_(6.2011).pdf; Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, 23 February 2012, A/HRC/19/55/Add.2, https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/G12/107/45/PDF/G1210745.pdf?OpenElement; See also: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2011/11/uae-end-travesty-justice-five-convicted-over-insults/ ; http://www.reuters.com/article/us-emirates-activists-jail-idUSTRE7AQ04320111127 ; https://www.indexoncensorship.org/2011/11/condemn-unfair-trial-uae-5/; http://www.jurist.org/paperchase/2011/11/uae-court-sentences-5-policital-activists.php;  

[8] The mass trial was grossly unfair: “confessions” which the court used as evidence, which were retracted by the defendants at trial and were said to have been extracted under torture and other ill-treatment, allegations which were dismissed by the judge and never investigated. In November 2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an Opinion on the UAE 94 case, concluding that the UAE government had deprived the defendants of their right to a fair trial. The Working Group found that the arrest and detention of the individuals had resulted from the exercise of their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, stating that the restrictions on those rights could not be considered to be proportionate and justified. It declared the arrest and detention of the 61 defendants who were imprisoned following the mass trial to be arbitrary and called on the UAE authorities to release them and afford them appropriate reparation. See: United Nations General Assembly, Human Rights Council, Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary detention at its 68th Session (13-22 November 2013), UN Doc A/HRC/WGAD/2013/60.

[9] See Amnesty International Urgent Action, 4 July 2016 http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/uaa18315_3.pdf

[10] See Emirates News Agency 15 November 2014 http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates-international/1395272478814.html

[11] See Khaleej Times 3 May 2016 http://khaleejtimes.com/state-security-cases-put-off--to-hear-defence-pleadings

[12] See videos at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvw6NZPTIsc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzbVJWw7akE

[13] See twitter comment at https://twitter.com/emiratesop/status/726828032225349632

[14] See https://twitter.com/Wedad562/status/728145387383455744 and https://twitter.com/Wedad562/status/728145060244553732

[15] See Gulf Center for Development Policies 2014
https://www.gulfpolicies.com/attachments/article/1752/GCCS%202014%20digital%20final%20single%20page.pdf; https://www.gulfpolicies.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1756&Itemid=452