Moza AlAbdouli Tried for a Tweet
Moza ‘Abdouli is due to be sentenced on 30 May by the Federal Supreme Court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She is charged with insulting the UAE, its leaders, and its institutions for tweets she posted in March 2013. Her three siblings have not to date appeared in court and remain detained in an undisclosed location.
Moza ‘Abdouli, aged 18, is scheduled to appear before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in the UAE on 30 May for the verdict in her case. The charges against her relate to posts on her Twitter account following her father’s death on 3 March 2013 in Syria. In her tweets, Moza ‘Abdouli, aged 15 at the time, mourned the loss of her father. Her last tweet was posted on 7 March 2013.
During her trial she has stated that nothing she posted was intended to discredit any person, government or institution. Moza ‘Abdouli appeared in court for the first time in early April 2016 when she was officially charged. Two other trial sessions took place on 2 and 16 May. She should not have been brought before an adult court as her alleged offences took place when she was under the age of 18. She had been held in an undisclosed location since her arrest on 19 November 2015 until her first appearance in court. She was taken from her home in the village of alTayba in the north eastern Emirate of Fujairah, along with her sister Amina ‘Abdouli and her brother Mos’ab ‘Abdouli, by plain clothed State Security members who did not show warrants and who searched the house before detaining them.
On 29 November Amina and Moza ‘Abdouli were allowed to phone their family but not to reveal their whereabouts. The same day, another brother, Waleed ‘Abdouli, was arrested by State Security members. Two days earlier he had made a speech during Friday prayers in which he criticised the detention of his three siblings. Amina, Mos’ab and Waleed ‘Abdouli have not to date appeared in court and remain detained in an undisclosed location.
Waleed ‘Abdouli (34), teacher Amina ‘Abdouli (33), former high school student Moza ‘Abdouli (18), and their brother Mos’ab ‘Abdouli (25) are the children of Mohammed Ahmed ‘Abdouli who was the head of the banned Emirati Umma Party and a former Colonel of the UAE army. He was arrested in 2005 and detained for about two years without trial. He later travelled to Syria where he was the military adviser to the commander of operations of the non-state armed group, Ahrar al-Sham, and was killed in March 2013 in the town of al-Raqqa.
Since 2011, the UAE authorities have mounted an unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression and association in the country. The space for dissent has shrunk and many people, both Emiratis and non-Emiratis, who have criticised the UAE government, its policies, and the human rights situation in the country have been harassed, arrested, tortured, or subjected to unfair trial and imprisonment. The authorities have arrested, detained, and prosecuted more than 100 activists and critics of the government, including prominent lawyers, judges, and academics, on broad and sweeping national security-related or cybercrimes charges in proceedings that fail to meet international fair trial standards.
Detainees held incommunicado or in undisclosed places of detention are at heightened risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Such deprivation of liberty by state authorities who conceal an individual’s whereabouts, placing them outside the protection of the law, is enforced disappearance, which is a crime under international law.