[The following press release was issued on 20 March 2014 by the Alkarama Foundation]
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention`s independent experts adopted an opinion confirming the arbitrary nature of the detention of those detained in the `UAE94` case and requested the UAE government release them.
Today, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) issued Opinion No. 60/2013 in which it considers the deprivation of liberty of the 61 individuals detained in the `UAE94` case to be arbitrary. It states that the UAE government "has a duty to release the detainees" and "provide them with adequate reparation". This is the third opinion since 2009 adopted by the WGAD regarding allegations of violations of the rights to freedom of expression, fair trial and freedom from arbitrary detention in the UAE, which it describes as a pattern. "One year after the opening of the `UAE94` trial, this is a big step in recognition by the UN that the UAE`s membership of the UN Human Rights Council and ratification of the UN Convention against Torture is not enough when, at the same time, they disappear, arrest and detain people unlawfully, judge them unfairly and use torture on its territory", said Alkarama`s Legal Director Rachid Mesli.
From the beginning of the crackdown on human rights defenders and political activists in the UAE, until the verdict of the trial of the "UAE94" on 2 July 2013 and beyond, Alkarama has kept the UN human rights mechanisms informed about the human rights violations occurring in the country. Specifically, on 19 August 2013, Alkarama asked the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to issue an opinion regarding the detention of 61 of the `UAE94`, sentenced to 7-10 years of imprisonment.
On 9 September 2013, the UN Working Group requested information from the UAE government about these allegations, but the government failed to respond within the time limit of 60 days. Although the WGAD noted that the UAE provided information on 20 November (after the UN deadline), it considered itself "to be in the position to render an opinion on the detention of the 61 individuals".
Interestingly, in its communication to the UN experts on 20 November 2013 – before the issuance of the opinion - the UAE Permanent Mission "kindly request[ed] the WG [Working Group] to reconsider its position regarding the communication of the 61 National Emiratis" arguing that "such a matter does not merit the attention of the various SR [Special Rapporteurs] and of the WGAD".
"Expressing criticism of one`s country [...] in a peaceful way should not be categorized as an attempt to overthrow a government"
In its opinion, the Working Group states that the detention of the 61 individuals in the UAE94 case clearly results from the exercise of their rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to freedom of peaceful assembly and association which are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN experts add:
"the restrictions of those rights in the present case cannot be considered to be proportionate and justified. [...] Expressing criticism of one`s country and its leaders and communicating with other political actors in a peaceful way should not be categorized as an attempt to overthrow a government."
In the view of the UN experts, the detainees "should not have been convicted of the charges brought against them or on the basis of their acts in the exercise of their right to freedom of opinion and expression".
The Working Group confirms that arbitrary nature of the detention of the 61 peaceful activists, given the "lack of legal justification for [their] arrest and detention" together with "the vagueness of the charges" subsequently laid against them.
Given the fact that "[T]he government has not availed itself of the opportunity to offer an explanation in response to those serious allegations" [of torture], the charges laid against the defendants were "overly broad" and unsubstantiated and that "the sentences are definitive and cannot be appealed", the experts from the Working Group conclude that "there has been a violation of the right to a fair trial guaranteed under article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Moreover, "the breaches of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and to a fair trial [...] are of such gravity that a fair trial was not possible."
Considering the fact that this is the third opinion that the UN WGAD adopts since 2009 regarding allegations of violations of the rights to freedom of expression, fair trial and freedom from arbitrary detention in the UAE, the Working Group "expresses its concern over a pattern that those opinions show and underlines the obligation of the government to comply with international law."
The UN Working Group of arbitrary detention therefore stated that "the deprivation of liberty of the 61 individuals is arbitrary, being in contravention of articles 8 to 11, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights". Consequently, the experts request the UAE government to "take necessary steps to remedy the situation of the 61 individuals and bring it into conformity with the standards and principles set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (para. 27) and to "release the 61 individuals and provide them with adequate reparation" (para. 28).
Alkarama welcomes the adoption of this opinion and hopes that the action taken by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will encourage the UAE authorities to release the 61 detainees in the case of the `UAE94`, and to put an end to the crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.
The 61 individuals that the UN has ordered be released are:
1. Ahmed Ghaith Al Suwaidi (أحمد غيث أحمد السويدي)
2. Dr Ahmed Al Zaabi (أحمد يوسف بوعتابه الزعابي)
3. Dr Ali Al Hammadi (علي حسين أحمد علي الحمادي)
4. Ibrahim al Marzooqi (ابراهيم حسن المرزوقي)
5. Hassan Al Jabiri (حسن منيف الجابري)
6. Husain Al Jabiri (حسين منيف الجابري)
7. Dr Shaheen Alhosani (شاهين عبدالله مال الله الحوسني)
8. Sultan Bin Kayed Al Qasimi (سلطان كايد محمد القاسمي)
9. Saleh Al-Dhufairi (صالح محمد صالح الظفير)
10. Salim Sahooh (سالم عبدالله ساحوه)
11. Ahmed Al Tabour Al Nuaimi (أحمد راشد إبراهيم الطابور النعيمي)
12. Khalid Al Sheiba Al-Nuaimi (خالد محمد عبدالله الشيبة النعيمي)
13. Dr. Mohamed Al Mansoori (محمد علي صالح المنصور المنصوري)
14. Husain Al-Najjar Al Hammadi (حسين علي عبدالله النجار الحمادي)
15. Abdulrahman Al-Hadidi (عبدالرحمن أحمد محمد الحديدي آل علي)
16. Rashid Omran Al Shamsi (راشد عمران علي عبيد الشامسي)
17. Essa Al-Sari Al Muhairi (عيس معضد عبدالله السري المهيري)
18. Dr. Mohamed Abdullah Al-Roken (محمد عبدالله الركن)
19. Salim Hamdoon Al Shahi (سالم علي سليمان حمدون الشحي )
20. Juma Darwish Al-Felasi (جمعه سعيد جمعة بمن درويش الفلاسي)
21. Tariq Al-Qasim (طارق ابراهيم عبدالرحيم القاسم)
22. Dr. Saif Al Egleh (سيف محمد علي العجلة)
23. Hamad Roqait (حمد حسن علي رقيط)
24. Abdulraheem Al-Zarooni (عبدالرحيم محمد عبدالرحمن الزرعوني)
25. Musabeh Al-Rumaithi (مصبح درويش جمعة الرميثي)
26. Tariq Hassan Al-Qattan Al Harmoudi (طارق حسن عبدالله القطان الهرمودي)
27. Saeed Nasser Al-Wahidi (سعيد ناصر سعيد الواحدي)
28. Ali Abdullah Mahdi Saleh (علي عبدالله مهدي صالح)
29. Abdulsalam Darwish Al Marzooqi (عبدالسلام محمد درويش المرزوقي)
30. Khalid Mohammed Alyammahi (خالد محمد يوسف اليماحي)
31. Ahmed Saqer Alsuwaidi (أحمد صقر محمد السويدي)
32. Saif Aletr Al Dhanhan (سيف محمد سيف العطر الضنحاني)
33. Hassan Mohammed Al Hammadi (حسن محمد حسن أحمد الحمادي)
34. Fuad Mohammed Al Hammadi (فؤاد محمد عبدالله حسن الحمادي)
35. Ahmed Saif Almatri (أحمد سيف خلف المطري)
36. Najeeb Amiri (نجيب أحمد عبدالله أحمد أميري)
37. Abdulaziz Hareb (عبدالعزيز علي سعيد حارب المهيري)
38. Abdullah Al-Jabiri (عبدالله نصيب كرامة الجابري)
39. Ali Abdulla Alkhaja (علي عبدالله فتح علي الخاجة)
40. Rashid Khalfan Bin Sabt (راشد خلفان عبيد سبت آل علي)
41. Ali Salim Al Awad Al-Zaabi (علي سالم محمد الغواص الزعابي)
42. Ali Saeed Al-Kindi (علي سعيد محمد حسن الكندي)
43. Dr Hadif Al-Owais (هادف راشد عبدالله العويس)
44. Mohammed Al-Abdouli (محمد سعيد محمد ذياب العبدولي)
45. Salem Mousa Farhan Alhalyan (سالم موسى فرحان الحليان)
46. Ahmed Hajji Al-Qobaisi (أحمد حجي صخير القبيسي)
47. Ahmed Hassan Al-Rostomani (أحمد حسن محمد الرستماني)
48. Ahmed Knyed Al-Muhairi (أحمد كنيد المهيري)
49. Ismael Abullah Al-Hosani (إسماعيل عبدالله مال الحوسني)
50. Khaled Fadel Ahmed (خالد فضل أحمد جاسم)
51. Ali Muhammad Al Shahi (علي محمد بن حجر الشحي)
52. Essa Khalifa Al Suwaidi (عيس خليفة أحمد سيف السويدي)
53. Abdulrahim Abdallah Al Bestaky (عبدالرحيم عبدالله عبد الكريم البستكي)
54. Muhammad Abdulrazzaq Al Abdouly (محمد عبدالرزاق صديق العبيدلي)
55. Khalifa Hillel (خليفه هلال خليفه هلال)
56. Ibrahim Ismail Al Yaqoub (ابراهيم اسماعيل الياقوت )
57. Amrane Ali Hassan Al Harithi (عمران علي حسن الرضوان الحارثي)
58. Mahmoud Hassan Al Houssani ( محمود حسن محمود أحمد الحوسني)
59. Abdallah Abdelqader Al Hajiri ( عبدالله عبد القادر أحمد علي الهاجري)
60. Mansoor Ahmad Al Ahmady (منصور حسن أحمد الأحمدي)
61. Fahd Abdelqader Al Hajiri (فهد عبدالقادر أحمد علي الهاجري)
To learn more about the correspondence between the United Nations Special Procedures and the UAE government, please check the following documents:
• The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates, Response to the UN Special Procedures concerning the trial of 94 individuals on charge of State Security offences (Case No. 17/2013), 10 June 2013
• The Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations Office,Explanatory Letter to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention regarding the communications on the 61 Emirati nationals and Abdullah Al Hadidi, 20 November 2013