Human Rights Council: New reports citing the United Arab Emirates
The Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michel Forst, and the former Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan E. Méndez, presented their reports, on 20 and 24 February 2017, before the Human Rights Council at its 34th session; in which they made some observations about the communications that they have received in 2016. These observations particularly concern the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the two UN Special Rapporteurs have strongly denounced the arbitrary detentions, torture, revocations of nationality and unfair trials practiced by the UAE authorities against human rights defenders.
The former Special Rapporteur on Torture raised the case of Mr. Binsobeih and regretted that the Government of Indonesia did not cooperate with his office and ignored the communication. In fact, Mr. Juan E. Méndez concluded that by allowing Mr. Binsobeih to be extradited to the UAE, the Government of Indonesia put him to high-risk of torture and, therefore, violates the principle of non-refoulement stipulated in Articles 1, 2, 3 and 16 of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).
He further recalled the Government’s obligation to protect the physical and mental integrity of all persons, regardless of their legal status in the territory, in accordance with Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Convention against Torture, to which the UAE is a party. The Convention prohibits any State Party from expelling, returning or extraditing "any person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.".
When making his observations, the UN Special Rapporteur noted that Mr. Binsobeih was reportedly abducted from Batam island of Indonesia by some officials of the UAE Embassy in cooperation with the Indonesian Secret Service Agents in order to bring him before the UAE Supreme Federal Court on 28 March 2016 for a new trial on unidentified charges. The Special Rapporteur strongly condemned the Indonesian Government’s involvement and intervention in this case and called upon it to stop facilitating the return or expulsion of persons to States where they are at risk of torture. To this extent, he further urged the Indonesian government to fulfill their obligations under Convention against Torture.
Mr. Juan E. Méndez also thanked the Government of the UAE for its reply received in May 2016, but regretted the absence of clear measures aiming at protecting Mr. Bin Ghaith's physical and psychological integrity. He concluded that by holding Mr. Bin Ghaith incommunicado detention and torturing him, the Government gravely violates his right to freedom from torture, as provided in Articles 1, 2 and 16 of Convention against Torture. He called upon the UAE to fulfill their obligations and to investigate, prosecute and punish any person involved in practicing any form of torture. He also requested that Mr. Bin Ghaith be provided with appropriate remedies for the violations committed against him.
Additionally, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Mr. Michel Forst also expressed deep concern over several cases of human rights defenders in the UAE, notably that of Mr. Obaid Yousef Al-Zaabi who continues to be arbitrarily detained despite his acquittal in June 2014. Mr. Obaid Yousef Al-Zaabi was arrested after having posted series of tweets criticizing the “UAE94” trial.
In addition to the aforementioned case of Mr. Bin Gaith, the nationality revocation of the three children of Mr. Abdel Razzaq Al-Siddiq as a reprisal on his peaceful activities as a human rights defender has also attracted the attention of the Special Rapporteur. Finally, Mr. Michel Forst expressed deep concern over Mr. Binsobeih’s case, who is potentially in grave danger of being subjected to torture, and requested that the Government of the UAE provide Mr. Binsobeih with detailed information of his case as to under which legal basis he was arrested.