UN condemns “arbitrary” detention of “UAE 94”

An article on the case of the “UAE 94,” published in Al-Akhbar English in March 2014.

The United Nations condemned the “arbitrary” detention of 94 citizens by the United Arab Emirates, calling for the release of 61 of them, a document revealed on Wednesday.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention deemed that “the breaches of the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and right to a fair trial in the present case are of such gravity that a fair trial was not possible.”

The “UAE 94,” a diverse group of doctors, academics, lawyers, judges and other professionals, were condemned in July for allegedly plotting a coup against the Emirati government and handed out prison sentences ranging from three to 15 years, the majority of which stood at 10 years.

The case has drawn concern from numerous human rights NGOs due to the arbitrary detention ahead of the trial and the alleged use of torture to elicit confessions. The UN report noted that the allegations accused the UAE of behavior contrary to the its obligations under international law.

The UN working group said in its statement that the charges “remain so vague that it considers that they are aimed more at keeping the petitioners detained at any cost, rather than at establishing justice for any potential crimes committed.”

The statement noted that the UAE had failed to respond to the UN’s inquiries on the case in a timely manner.

NGO AlKarama reacted positively to the UN condemnation, calling it a “big step.”

“One year after the opening of the ‘UAE 94’ 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,” AlKarama Legal Director Rachid Mesli said of the case.

In June, a group of NGOs had denounced the “systematic mistreatment…consistent with other allegations of torture at UAE state security facilities” of the “UAE 94.”

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