UN Experts Urge UAE to Release Lebanese Citizen
On the 15th of September, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued an opinion on the case of Ahmed Mekkaoui, a Lebanese citizen who is currently imprisoned in the UAE. UN experts described his detention as arbitrary and haved called for his immediate release.
On December the 4th last year, based on manufactured evidence and confessions obtained under torture, Mekkaoui was sentenced by the UAE Federal Supreme Court to no less than 15 years in prison.
Opinion No. 47/2017 regards this detention as lacking legal basis and therefore in breach of international fair trial guarantees.
Prior to his conviction in December 2016, Mekkaoui was held arbitrarily without charge for a period of 13 months, seven of which he spent in a state of solitary confinement.
Furthermore, in violation of his basic right to a fair trial, Mekkaoui was denied his right to a proper defense. From the outset of his detention, he was denied access to legal counsel right up until his first trial hearing.
The WGAD expressed serious concerns over the psychological and physical torture Mekkaoui was subjected to, which included sexual abuse. As a consequence of this, Mekkaoui has sustained serious injuries which required multiple surgeries. However no investigation was opened by Emirati authorities with regard to this, despite Mekkaoui’s allegations.
The UN group contexualised Mekkaoui's case, highlighting the disturbing trend of arbitrary detention and systematic torture taking place in the UAE, referring to previous similar scenarios- Mohamed Az, Salim Alaradi and four other Libyan citizens ; as well as the 61 government critics prosecuted in the mass trial of the UAE 94.
The WGAD renews its call that “under certain circumstances, widespread or systematic imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law may constitute crimes against humanity.”
Accordingly, the UN experts also drew attention to their request back in 2016 to visit the UAE, which has remained unanswered to date.
The Working Group called upon the UAE authorities to not only immediately release Mekkaoui; but also to accord him the right to compensation.
They also called on the Emirati government to open up an independent inquiry into the Lebanese citizen's allegations of torture, as well as to prosecute those responsible.
For more information: https://www.alkarama.org/en/articles/uae-un-experts-call-release-lebanes...