DUBAI (Dispatches) – The United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the UK has been urged to press for the release of a number of political prisoners who were jailed during the country’s infamous “UAE 94” trial.
In a letter addressed to Mansoor Abulhoul, UAE ambassador to the UK, on Friday - the eighth anniversary of the trial - the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE) said it was concerned over the UAE’s “persecution of human rights activists and their subsequent treatment in prison”.
The “UAE 94” case was a mass trial in 2013 involving 94 people who were accused of trying to overthrow the Emirati government, a charge the defendants vehemently denied.
It resulted in the conviction of 69 people - eight in absentia - who received sentences as long as 15 years.
Access to legal counsel during the UAE 94 trial was severely curtailed and not all the defendants had an opportunity to see a lawyer before the trial, and none of the defendants or their lawyers received documents in good time so as to prepare an effective defense.
Two years earlier, the 94 individuals had reportedly signed a petition calling on the Emirati government to institute a set of democratic reforms.
The signatories were said to have called for an elected Federal National Council with full regulatory powers and universal suffrage, a retreat of the security state and basic human rights within the existing framework of a constitutional monarchy.
Friday’s letter said that several of the prisoners showed visible signs of torture prior to the trial, which went uninvestigated by UAE authorities.
It added that four prisoners currently remain in indefinite detention despite having completed their seven-year sentences, with Emirati authorities using travel bans to target the prisoners as well as their family members.
The Emirati authorities use travel bans to prevent human rights activists and their family members from either entering or leaving the country.
“In relation to indefinite detention and imprisonment conditions, we ask that the UAE allows international monitoring of prisons by inviting independent and impartial bodies to inspect and evaluate detention conditions on the ground,” the letter read.