United Arab Emirates: UPDATE: UAE: Academic Nasser Bin Ghaith suffering from poor health while waiting for Federal Appeal Court to set date to hear his case
Update: UAE: On 22 February, Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith appeared in court, where the judge scheduled a hearing for his verdict on 29 March 2017.
Update: UAE: Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith remains in prison after his case was transferred to the Federal Appeal Court on 18 January 2017. The hearing was brief, ignored his request for bail and then postponed to 22 February for the defence's statement.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) is deeply concerned about the health of Emirati academic Dr. Nasser Bin Ghaith, who remains in prison in the United Arab Emirates under extremely harsh conditions which fail to meet the minimum standards for international prison conditions. He has been kept in solitary confinement almost the entire time since his arrest on 18 August 2015 and has no news of his next court date.
Bin Ghaith is reportedly suffering from serious medical issues that require immediate attention by a specialised doctor, but he is not getting medical treatment while in Al-Sader jail, in the Security Ward. He had faced previous health issues, including tooth pain, which was treated after several weeks. He also was not given his glasses for several weeks. In addition, he has been refused access to winter clothes. Bin Ghaith also suffers from high blood pressure, and is not always given access to his medication. His blood pressure has not been measured for over nine months. He has only been allowed to leave his cell for an hour to walk in the sun, and has been kept in solitary since his arrest in August 2015, except for two weeks.
No phone calls are allowed to his lawyer, and calls to his family are arbitrary, sometimes allowed and sometimes not allowed for weeks.
Last year, GCHR welcomed modifications of the Supreme Court law, which came into effect on 04 December 2016 (through decree-law no. 11/2016), that allowed the courts in the UAE to transfer the case of Bin Ghaith to the Federal Appeal Court. While the human rights defender remains in prison, denied release on bail, the transfer means that he now enjoys the right to appeal his case, although he may be in court for some time as the case begins again. No date for his trial is set for his first appearance at the appeal court as of now. His case will start all over again.
On 05 December, Bin Ghaith’s case was transferred from the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court to the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal court, which is the court now examining cases of internal and external state security, as a court of first instance. Cases can now be appealed through the Federal Supreme Court. No date has yet been set for a hearing at the Federal Appeal Court in Abu Dhabi. See: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1440
Bin Ghaith faces several charges stemming from his peaceful criticism on Twitter of Egyptian and Emirati authorities, which could lead to decades in prison. Authorities also accuse him of violating the country’s repressive counterterrorism law by collaborating with local groups the authorities have classified as terrorist. For more details, please see a report from a trial observation organised by GCHR and other NGOs at: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1397
On 04 October, GCHR, along with the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Front Line Defenders, International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), Scholars at Risk, and World Organisation Against Torture submitted information on Bin Ghaith’s case to a variety of United Nations human rights bodies and experts.
Therefore, GCHR calls on the authorities in the UAE to:
- Ensure that the trial of Dr Nasser Bin Ghaith is a free and fair judicial process, upholding international standards of fair trial;
- Provide full access for Dr Nasser Bin Ghaith to necessary medical treatment, according to the minimum standards of care for prisoners; and
- Apply the modifications of the Supreme Court law retroactively so that other cases of human rights defenders can be tried fairly;
- Investigate reports of torture and ill treatment in detention; and provide justice for those responsible and effective redress to Dr. Bin Ghaith;
- 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.