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Human Rights Watch: Jailed British Academic Denied Rights

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Human Rights Watch: Jailed British Academic Denied Rights

The United Arab Emirates detained a British academic for months without charge, denying him his due process rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

The abuses raise serious concerns about whether Matthew Hedges, a doctoral candidate at Durham University in England, can get a fair trial in the UAE, the organisation added.

Security forces detained Hedges, 31, on May 5, 2018, denied him effective legal assistance, and finally charged him with spying on October 16. He is next due to appear in court on October 24.

His wife, Daniela Tajada, told Human Rights Watch that security forces have held him in prolonged solitary confinement for much of the time, which is strictly prohibited under international law as it can amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“The UAE invests considerable time and money painting itself as a progressive and tolerant country, but Hedges’ case shows the face of an autocratic government with a fundamental lack of respect for the rule of law,” said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “UAE rulers cannot claim to preside over a global knowledge and education hub while locking up academics for months in solitary confinement.”

In recent years Human Rights Watch have documented numerous cases in the UAE of violations of the right to due process and fair trial guarantees, especially in state security-related cases. These include allegations of torture and ill-treatment in prisons across the country.

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