News ID: 113924
Publish Date : 14 April 2023 - 23:29

HRW: UAE Holding Prisoners for Years After Serving Sentences

DUBAI (MEMO) – Prisoners in the UAE are being held beyond their sentences, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has revealed, adding in some instances, the inmates have been held for four years after completing their sentence.
The prisoners are all part of the infamous case known as UAE94, in which critics of the authoritarian regime were sentenced during a mass trial. At least 51 prisoners who have completed their sentences remain behind bars.
“Prisoners in the UAE94 case have already suffered tremendously after years in prison following a grossly unfair trail,” explained Joey Shea, UAE researcher at HRW. “The Emirati authorities should free them immediately and finally put an end to this decade-long ordeal. Prominent UAE partners, including the United States and COP28 organizers, should press the UAE authorities for their immediate release.”
The prisoners were among 94 people detained from March 2012 in a wave of arbitrary arrests amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in the sheikhdom. Many of the defendants were arrested solely because they were affiliated with a non-violent political group, the Reform and Social Guidance Association (al-Islah), which advocated greater adherence to Islamic precepts and engaged in peaceful political debate in the UAE for years.
The case, said HRW, had a chilling effect on freedom of expression and the right to assembly and association. In July 2013, Abu Dhabi’s Federal Supreme Court sentenced 69 of the defendants: five to seven years in prison, 56 to 10 years, and eight in absentia to 15 years, with 25 acquitted. As of last month, 51 had completed their sentences but remain imprisoned with no clear legal basis. Some prisoners are said to have completed their sentences as early as July 2019.
The rights group said that Abu Dhabi is using its repressive counterterrorism law to hold prisoners after the completion of their sentences. “The law appears to permit indefinite detention for prisoners who continue to pose a ‘terrorist threat,’ which the law does not clearly define,” said HRW.
The counterterrorism law sets no time limit for continued incarceration and instead requires the state security public prosecution to report to the court every three months. The court may order a person’s release if it finds that “his or her condition so allows.” It is not clear if the defendant has any right to attend the hearing or see or challenge the evidence used to justify their detention.