Libyan Men's Terrorism Charges Replaced
On 21 March the prosecution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) replaced all terrorismrelated charges against four Libyan men with new ones. The fate of three other Libyan men is still unknown.
US-Libyan Kamal Eldarat and his son Mohammed Eldarat, Canadian-Libyan Salim el-Aradi and Libyan ‘Issa alManna’ were brought before the State Security Chamber in the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi on 21 March. The Prosecutor replaced the charges under the 2014 Anti-Terrorism law with new charges from the Penal Code. A forensic report rejected claims that the defendants had ever been tortured or bore marks of torture. The judges accepted the new charges and the court adjourned the trial to 11 April for the defence lawyers to plead.
On 15 February the court had referred Kamal Eldarat, Mohammed Eldarat and Salim el-Aradi to medical forensics. In early March, Salim el-Aradi was examined by a doctor. The examination lasted only eight minutes and he was not allowed to describe how he had been tortured.
On 24 December 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention called on the UAE to release the two Eldarat men, Salim al-Aradi and two other Libyans (now acquitted), subject to guarantees to appear for trial or to try them expeditiously in accordance with fair trial standards. Kamal Eldarat, Mohammed Eldarat and Salim el-Aradi were among 10 Libyan men arrested in August and September 2014. Four of the men were released in late 2014. The fate and whereabouts of Mohammed al-Fighi, al-Sadiq al-Kikli and Mahmoud bin Gharbiya, remain unknown.
The trial of Kamal and Mohammed Eldarat, Salim el-Aradi and ‘Issa al-Manna’ began before the Federal Supreme Court on 18 January, when they were told for the first time since they were arrested that they had been charged with providing financial and material support to two armed groups in Libya, under the UAE’s 2004 Anti-Terrorism law. The four men denied the charges. On 21 March, the Prosecutor changed the charges to those based on the Penal Code. He accused them of “taking hostile action against a foreign country by way of sending supplies to groups, without permission from the UAE government” under Article 166.
He also charged them with “collecting funds without obtaining permission from the appropriate ministry” under Articles 43 and 57 of Law No. 2 of 2008 relating to National Societies and Public Welfare Associations. Kamal Eldarat, Mohammed Eldarat and Salim el-Aradi were among 10 Libyan men arrested in August and September 2014. Not told why they were being arrested, they were taken to an unknown location and held for months without contact with the outside world. Four of the 10 were released in December 2014. The fate and whereabouts of Mohammed al-Fighi, al-Sadiq alKikli and Mahmoud bin Gharbiya are unknown. ‘Issa al-Manna’ was arrested on or around 12 March 2015 and subjected to enforced disappearance (see UA 74/15, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde25/1319/2015/en/).
Kamal Eldarat was summoned for questioning at Dubai’s Bur Dubai police station on 26 August 2014, after which about 20 officers in six police vehicles returned him to his house, which they searched, and then detained him. His son Mohammed Eldarat, was detained the following day. Salim el-Aradi was arrested on 29 August 2014 at around 2am, at a hotel, by police officers who gave no reason for arresting
him. Salim el-Aradi’s brother, Mohammed el-Aradi, had been summoned to a police station the previous day: police questioned him for several hours and then took him back to his house, which they searched and then detained him.
The two brothers had lived in the UAE for around 20 years. Mohammed el-Aradi and three other Libyan men were released without charge on 27 December 2014 and deported to Turkey. They had been held in unknown locations with no access to their families or legal assistance. Amnesty International understands that the men were tortured and otherwise ill-treated (see: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2015/08/uae-foreign-national-tort...). Despite certain safeguards in the UAE Constitution and laws, the rights of detainees upon arrest are routinely disregarded, especially in cases where the State Security Agency (SSA) is involved. Amnesty International has recorded other instances of foreign nationals being arrested and held incommunicado for weeks or months during pre-trial detention. Such arrests are typically carried out by the SSA, which deals with national security cases.
The UAE has acceded to the United Nations Convention against Torture but the UAE authorities routinely disregard the increasing number of allegations of torture voiced by detainees. A total of 71 defendants of 94 UAE nationals tried in 2013 complained that they had been tortured. The court refused to investigate the claims. SSA officials generally arrest people without warrants, then take them to unofficial secret detention facilities where they are kept for weeks or months without charge or access to legal representation. Detainees are often tortured or otherwise ill-treated. Amnesty International has found that officials often ignore for months families’ attempts to find out where detainees are held .