Int'l network of over 400 universities writes to Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum
Scholars at Risk (SAR), an international network of over 400 universities and colleges in 39 countries, wrote an open letter to UAE's President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al-Maktoum, calling for Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith's immediate release especially after his torture reports.
Here is SAR's letter:
I write on behalf of Scholars at Risk to express grave concern for Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith, prominent scholar of economics, who has been detained incommunicado since August 18, 2015, in advance of his upcoming hearing on May 2.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 400 universities and colleges in 39 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases like that of Dr. bin Ghaith, involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, Scholars at Risk intervenes hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.
Dr. bin Ghaith is an economist, prominent academic and former lecturer at University of Paris IV (Paris-Sorbonne) Abu Dhabi who has publicly called for political reform and human rights in the United Arab Emirates. Scholars at Risk understands that on August 18, 2015, State Security officers arrested Dr. bin Ghaith in Abu Dhabi. He was taken to an unknown location, where he has been denied access to his family, lawyer and medical treatment. Scholars at Risk further understands that on April 4, 2016, Dr. bin Ghaith was granted a hearing, which was closed to all except family and state media.
Reports indicate that Dr. bin Ghaith met his lawyer for the first time during the hearing, though he was not given time to speak with him in private, and that Dr.
bin Ghaith complained to the court of ill treatment and torture in detention. Reports further indicate that, if convicted, Dr. bin Ghaith will not be granted an appeal. Following the hearing, Dr. bin Ghaith was taken, once again, to an undisclosed location. Another hearing is reportedly scheduled for May 2.
Although the reasons for Dr. bin Ghaith’s detention have not been publicly disclosed, reports have noted that his arrest followed a series of tweets by him on August 13 and 14 – the second anniversary of the Raba’a Square Massacre in Cairo, in which more than 800 protesters were killed – criticizing the Egyptian regime, an ally of the UAE, for failing to hold anyone accountable for the massacre.
We welcome any additional information that may explain these events or clarify our
understandings. Absent this, the facts as described suggest that Dr. bin Ghaith was arrested and is being charged in retaliation for nonviolent expressive activity, conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. His arrest, prolonged incommunicado detention and reported ill treatment in detention not only raise serious concerns for Dr. bin Ghaith’s well being, but for the ability of intellectuals generally in the UAE to exercise their right to free expression.
We therefore respectfully urge you to investigate the situation and to secure Dr. bin Ghaith’s release or, pending his release, to disclose his current location; to make public any charges against him; to ensure that his case proceeds in a manner consistent with the UAE’s obligations under international law, in particular internationally recognized standards of due process and fair trial; to investigate reports of torture and ill treatment in detention; and to ensure his well being while in custody, including regular access to family, counsel and any medical treatment he may require. We thank you for your attention to this important matter, and look forward to your response.