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Reports

UAE- Criminalizing Dissent UAE 94 Trial Deeply Flawed / Judicial Observation Report August 2013

2013-08-27

Contents

I. INTRODUCTION.. 2

II. THE DEFENDANTS.. 3

III. THE CHARGES.. 3

IV. ARRESTS AND PRE-TRIAL DETENTION.. 4

V. THE HEARINGS.. 4

VI. RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.. 5

VII. UAE, REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK: RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL..  5

VIII. VIOLATIONS OF THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.. 8

Right to a fair trial before a competent, independent and impartial court.. 8

Right to a Public Hearing.. 9

Presumption of Innocence.. 10

Right to Defence.. 11

Right to Equality of Arms..12

Right to Call and Examine Witnesses.. 12

Right to a Public and Reasoned Judgment.. 13

Right to Appeal.. 13

IX. LEGAL FRAMEWORK IN RELATION TO TORTURE AND INHUMAN TREATMENT..  13

X. VIOLATIONS OF THE RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM TORTURE.. 14

Allegations of torture and inhuman treatment during the pre-trial period.. 15

Hearing of 4th March 2013.. 15

Hearing of 11th March 2013.. 15

Hearing of 19th March 2013.. 16

Hearing on 26th March 2013.. 16

Hearing of 6th May 2013.. 17

Outside the trial hearings.. 17

XI. CONCLUSION ON TORTURE AND INHUMAN TREATMENT.. 17

XII. OVERALL CONCLUSION.. 18

XIII. RECOMMENDATIONS.. 18

 

I. INTRODUCTION 

  1. The trial of 94 intellectuals, activists, and human rights defenders, took place before the Special Security Court within the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) between 4th March and 2nd July 2013. A coalition of four human rights organisations - the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) - appointed observer Melanie Gingell, a barrister of Doughty Street Chambers in London to monitor and report on the trial.
  2. On 27th January 2013, the 94 defendants were charged with founding, organising and administering an organisation aimed at overthrowing the government, contrary to article 180 of the penal code. The offence carries a maximum sentence of 15-years' imprisonment.
  3. At the conclusion of the trial on 2nd July 2013, 69 defendants were convicted and 25 acquitted. Many were sentenced to 10 years and others to 7 years imprisonment. The group tried in absentia received 15 years imprisonment and the UAE has started extradition proceedings against them.
  4. The observer attempted to gain access to the first two hearings on 4th and 11th March and the final hearing which took place on 2nd July 2013. She was denied entry to all hearings. As set out in the first report[1], international observers were asked to comply with procedures and provide documents. All procedures were complied with but the observers were still denied entry. 
  5. The coalition was informed in writing by the UAE Ministry of Justice that the final hearing in the trial of the UAE 94 would be open to the public and that international observers would be permitted entry in order to monitor proceedings. However, on attending at the Ministry of Justice on the day prior to the hearing the observer was informed that she would not be admitted. 
  6. On the day of the hearing it was not possible to approach the Federal Supreme Court as the surrounding roads were subject to police roadblocks. There was a very heavy police presence in the surrounding area.
  7. No independent observation of the trial was allowed. The international media were also barred from the proceedings.
  8. The content of this report is therefore based on information gained from interviews with family members who were allowed access to the hearings, from local activists, from local press reports and other reports of international organisations.
  9. This report concludes that the trial was marred by recurrent and serious breaches of internationally agreed standards of fair trial. This has led to 69 unfair convictions and the imposition of lengthy terms of imprisonment from which there is no right of appeal.
  10. It further finds that credible allegations of torture, which were repeatedly made by defendants to the tribunal, were ignored.  The allegations are consistent with other reports of torture that have been made in UAE over the last 10 years[2] leading to the fear that torture is systematic within the state’s penal system and the conclusion that it has occurred in this case. The failure by the authorities to allow independent observation of the trial and to instigate any investigations into the allegation adds weight to this conclusion. The failure to investigate the allegations of torture puts the authorities in breach of their international obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ratified by the UAE in July 2012.
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[1]      See at “Trial Observation Report”, 26th March 2013 at http://www.fidh.org/United-Arab-Emirates-Flagrant-disregard-of-fair-trial-guarantees-shown-at-13083

[2]     See AI reports on UAE http://www.amnesty.org/en/region/uae?page=8