Countries, UAE|September 24, 2012 3:04 pm

Rule of Law Absent in the UAE as Authorities Begin Smear Campaign

UAE smear campaignOn September 20th ‘official sources’ revealed allegations made against the 61 detainees held in the United Arab Emirates in a crackdown to suppress calls for democratic reforms.

They included that the detainees have sought to establish a caliphate through clandestine offices present throughout the Emirates, with the ‘secret organisation’ even possessing a Shura council and a military wing. The source denied that torture of the detainees has taken place and asserted that detainees have not been refused the right to appoint legal counsel.

No evidence was presented for the claims and it should be noted that those detained include respected lawyers, judges and human rights activists. Additionally, the al-Islah organization has issued a statement refuting the claims made by official sources in the UAE. Rather than trading in public accusations and denials, the UAE authorities must immediately put the detainees on trial, in an open court with international observers, and dismiss any evidence obtained through torture.

The allegations made by the anonymous official source allude to the credible accusations of torture made by human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and the intimidation of lawyers seeking to represent some of those detained.

Rather than publicly refuting such claims, independent medical practitioners must be granted access to assess the physical condition of prisoners to gauge the veracity of the torture allegations. Until then, the eye-witness testimony made by those present at the court session of September 6th remain the only visual contact with any detainee since their arrest.

Indeed, the allegations made by the authorities did not mention the state of Ahmed Ghaith Al-Suweidi, who has been categorized as being subjected to an enforced disappearance after being held incommunicado at an unknown location for over 6 months.

Furthermore, the lawyer seeking to represent many of the detainees, Abdulhameed al-Kumaiti, has stated that he has been refused power of attorney requests on several occasions. Although the state may have appointed lawyers they deemed favourable in several cases, the right of the detainees to appoint a lawyer has clearly been violated. By violating the right of detainees to appoint legal representation independently, the UAE authorities are contravening Article 16 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which has been signed & ratified by the authorities. Furthermore, should the allegations of torture prove to be true, with no evidence to the contrary currently, this would contravene Article 1 on the Convention Against Torture that was signed by the UAE in July 2012.

Indeed, it has emerged that the UAE will stand for election to the UN Human Rights Council at the end of this year. If the signing and attending to international conventions & organisations concerning human rights are to be anything more than the presentation of a faux liberal agenda, the UAE must begin to uphold the human rights values they are publicly supporting. Moreover, the members of the Human Rights Council and signatories to the Convention Against Torture must demand that the UAE stop manipulating the values of humanitarianism whilst flagrantly violating them.

The Emirates Centre for Human Rights calls on the UAE authorities to cease public smear campaigns aimed at criminalizing the detainees in the public sphere, which serves to undermine the legal process considering a trial has yet to take place.

The reliable testimonies concerning the maltreatment of prisoners and accusations of enforced disappearances require immediate attention. As a matter of urgency, the international community must ensure the following: for the location of detainees to be disclosed; family visitation and legal counsel to be granted; for those held to be charged and tried in a fair and just manner; and to dismiss any evidence obtained during torture.

In order for fundamental human rights to be protected, it must first be understood that it is the deafening silence of the world that has allowed the UAE to continue torturing their citizens with ever increasing impunity. The international community must ensure that the UAE are not allowed to treat humanitarian principles with disrespect as they seek to further their legitimacy by manipulating documents and organizations for their own benefit.

Source: Rule of Law Absent in the UAE as Authorities Begin Smear Campaign


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