On the Anniversary of UAE94 Trial, ICFUAE Urges British Government to Speak Out on Human Rights Abuses in the United Arab Emirates
On the the fourth anniversary of the trial of the 'UAE 94', the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE launched a petition today calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience currently incarcerated in the United Arab Emirates. The petition urges the UK government to put pressure on the UAE authorities to end practices of arbitrary detention, the use of torture and unfair trials within the Emirates.
In recent years, the UAE authorities have launched a heavy crackdown on dissenting voices critical of the state. The most notable of this was the authorities' response to a petition launched in 2011 that called for democratic reforms by a group of activists commonly known as the 'UAE 94'. Those that signed the petition included prominent human rights lawyers, academics, student leaders, and teachers. For peacefully exercising their right to freedom of speech and assembly, signatories were subjected to enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of the UAE state authorities. Of the 94 tried, fifty six were sentenced to ten years imprisonment, five of them to seven years, and eight others, who were tried in absentia to fifteen years, the other twenty-five were acquitted.
The 'UAE 94' trial gained international media attention and was heavily condemned by organisations such as Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch who accused the UAE authorities of contravening international law and violating basic human rights. Both launched international campaigns calling for the immediate release of the detained. In a similar vein, the International Commission of Jurists produced a damning report of the trials that highlighted the UAE's judicial failings. The report, published in October 2013, cited the use of torture, unfair trials and the overall failure of the UAE authorities to live up to the commitment it made to the Human Rights Council to “ place human rights at the top of its priorities”. On the fourth anniversary of the trial, those convicted in 2013 remain incarcerated to this day and are denied any right of appeal in direct contravention to international law.
The 'UAE 94' trial forms part of a broader picture when considering the UAE's attitude towards freedom of speech and assembly within its borders. A substantial number of people have since been detained merely for posting opinions on social media that the authorities deem critical of the state. So far the British government has remained quiet on these issues. However, as human rights abuses in the UAE gain more international attention, one wonders how much longer this can pragmatically last.
- For the ICJ report on the 'UAE 94' trials please see https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/UAE-report-4-Oct-2013smallpdf.com_.pdf
- For Human Rights Watch report on the trials please see https://www.hrw.org/news/2013/04/03/uae-unfair-mass-trial-94-dissidents
- For Amnesty Internationals campaigns on human rights abuses in the UAE please see https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/united-arab-emirates/