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UAE sentences 43 Emiratis to life for ‘terror’ hyperlinks in mass trial

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A court docket within the United Arab Emirates has handed life sentences to 43 Emiratis for “terrorist” hyperlinks, state media stated July 10, after a mass trial closely criticised by U.N. consultants and rights teams.

Government critics and human rights activists had been among the many 84 defendants introduced earlier than the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal, most of whom have been in jail since the same trial of 94 folks in 2013, in keeping with rights teams.

The Abu Dhabi court docket “sentenced 43 defendants to life imprisonment for the crime of creating, establishing, and managing a terrorist organisation” linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, the official WAM information company stated.

Ten others had been jailed for 10-15 years, WAM stated, with one defendant acquitted and 24 instances dominated inadmissible. It didn’t give particulars of the remaining instances.

Defendants can nonetheless attraction the verdicts earlier than the Federal Supreme Court.

The trial, which kicked off in December, has been condemned by rights teams and United Nations consultants who accuse the oil-rich Gulf monarchy of cracking down on dissent.

Most of the defendants have already been in jail for greater than a decade because the “UAE 94” trial 11 years in the past, in keeping with Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International.

But UAE authorities say the newest costs are “materially distinct” from these introduced in 2013, which didn’t embody accusations of financing a “terrorist organisation”.

‘Violent occasions’

The UAE has not named the 84 defendants however the Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center, a U.Okay.-based watchdog, has recognized greater than 70 folks, most of them already imprisoned.

The newest verdict makes a “mockery of justice”, stated Joey Shea, HRW’s UAE researcher, calling it “another nail in the coffin for the UAE’s nascent civil society”.

Among these sentenced to life in jail is Emirati tutorial Nasser bin Ghaith who has been held since August 2015 over social media posts, in keeping with Ms. Shea.

Renowned human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor who has been held since 2017 can also be possible amongst thos convicted, although the small print of his sentence stay unclear, Ms. Shea stated.

Amnesty International known as it a “shameless parody of justice,” alleging truthful trial violations.

“Trying 84 Emiratis at once, including 26 prisoners of conscience and well-known human rights defenders is a scarcely disguised exercise in punishing dissenters,” stated Devin Kenney, Amnesty’s UAE Researcher.

The UAE has denied any wrongdoing.

WAM stated the court docket had “guaranteed the defendants all their rights”.

The report stated they had been making an attempt to “create and replicate violent events” that will have left “dead and injured in the squares and streets”.

‘Deeply regressive’

The UAE, a federation of seven absolute monarchies, prohibits criticism of its rulers and any speech that’s deemed to create or encourage social unrest.

Defamation in addition to verbal and written insults, whether or not revealed or made privately, are crimes punishable by fines and imprisonment.

In 2012, within the wake of the so-called Arab Spring revolts throughout the Middle East, the UAE launched a spate of arrests and prosecutions concentrating on dozens of Emirati dissidents who demanded political reform.

About 60 of the “UAE 94” placed on trial then stay behind bars for alleged hyperlinks to the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist motion that’s outlawed within the Gulf state.

In a letter despatched to UAE authorities in January, impartial U.N. consultants stated they had been involved that the newest proceedings towards the 84 defendants replicate “a broader pattern of suppression of dissent and civil society in the UAE”.

They questioned “alleged irregularities” corresponding to “the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment to extract forced confessions”.

Ben Saul, the U.N.’s particular rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, stated the newest costs “relate to the same conduct for which many of these defendants were tried the first time around a decade ago”.

The trial was a “deeply regressive step” and a “terrible example of the misuse of counter-terrorism measures against civil society”, he informed an professional panel hosted by the Geneva Press Club in March.

Last week, HRW stated most of the defendants have been saved incommunicado for no less than a yr and have reported abuses together with bodily assault, lack of entry to drugs, incessant loud music and compelled nudity.

The rich nation’s allies, together with the United States, Britain and the European Union, ought to converse out in regards to the “unfair mass trial”, HRW stated.

“Emirati authorities have long used their country’s economic and security relationships to prevent criticism of its rights record, but rarely, if ever, has the silence from its allies been so deafening,” stated HRW’s Ms. Shea.

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