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ICFUAE | International Campaign For Freedom in the UAE

ICFUAE | International Campaign For Freedom in the UAE
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Press Release: ICFUAE calls for the release of UAE prisoners of conscience

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2 years 4 months

Press Release: ICFUAE calls for the release of UAE prisoners of conscience

Today, marks the fifth anniversary of the March 2011 petition which led to the mass “UAE 94” trial that convicted dozens of government critics and reform activists in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including prominent human rights defenders, judges, academics, and student leaders. The International Campaign for Freedom in UAE (ICFUAE) calls on the UAE government to immediately release all prisoners of conscience who were jailed and convicted for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association. On March 2011, activists in the UAE petitioned for democratic reform in the country. The petition called for elections, an independent judiciary and more legislative powers for the Federal National Council. Despite the 133-high-profile Emiratis including former government officials, journalists, lawyers, and activists had signed the petition in the midst of the Arab Spring, the petition was met with harsh measures from the authorities. Many of the signatories were disappeared, arrested, and sentenced for 3 to 15years in prison for allegedly trying to overthrow the government in a high-profile case known as “UAE94” trial, a charge which they all denied. Consequently, most defendants had been held for months, some for up to a year, in secret detention facilities with little or no access to the outside world and with no access to lawyers. Many told the court during the trial that they had been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in pre-trial secret detention but the presiding judge failed to order an independent investigation into these allegations. Furthermore, the authorities have become increasingly hostile to independent human rights organisations reporting on the government’s human rights violations. In stark contrast to the glamorous, cosmopolitan, open society that the UAE government portrays, the UAE has become a country where there is no tolerance for the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression and political dissent. ICFUAE calls on the UAE authorities to: - Respect basic civil and political rights of individuals including freedom of expression - Release all political prisoners who were convicted during #UAE94 trial - Release bloggers and online-activists who shared sympathy with political detainees - End oppression and persecution of political detainees’ families - Investigate reports of torture made by former political prisoners and hold accountable those responsible for ill-treatment

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