UAE: Unfair Mass Trial of 94 Dissidents

Investigate Allegations of Torture, Grant Public Access to Sessions
APRIL 3, 2013

(Beirut)– The United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities have compounded serious pre-trial violations of fair trial rights by arbitrarily denying family members, international observers, and the international media access to the mass trial of 94 critics of the government, a coalition of seven international human rights organizations said today. The organizations urged the UAE authorities to investigate allegations of torture and to grant full public access to trial sessions.

The detention of Abdulla al-Hadidi, the son of one of the 94 defendants, on March 21, 2013, on charges of publishing in bad faith false details of a public trial session via the Internet heightens concerns about the trial’s fairness, the organizations said. Al-Hadidi had attended four court sessions since the trial began on March 4, and had written about them on social media websites. The day before his detention, officials from the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi informed al-Hadidi and several other relatives of the defendants that the authorities would no longer allow family members to attend the trial.

“Preventing independent monitors and family members from entering the court only increases the suspicions as to why the authorities need to hide what is being said and done inside,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “If the UAE authorities can present admissible and credible evidence that these defendants have committed crimes, why would they shroud the proceedings in secrecy?”

The coalition consists of Alkarama, Amnesty International, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, and the International Federation for Human Rights.

The 94 defendants, eight of whom are being tried in absentia, face sentences of up to 15 years in prison for allegedly violating article 180 of the Penal Code, which prohibits founding, organizing, or operating a group that aims to overthrow the country’s political system. The detainees include the prominent human rights lawyers Mohamed al-Roken and Mohamed al-Mansoori, as well as judges, lawyers, teachers, and student leaders. Among them are Judge Mohammed Saeed al-Abdouli and Dr. Hadef al-Owais, a jurist and university professor.

Many of the detainees are members of a local group, Reform and Social Guidance Association (Al-Islah), a non-violent group that has been engaged in peaceful political debate in the UAE for many years and advocates greater adherence to Islamic precepts. Representatives of local UAE news media, whom the authorities have allowed to attend the trial, have reported that prosecutors have claimed to have evidence that the defendants set up a parallel organization, Dawat al-Islah, which they claim has different goals and ideology.

The UAE places restrictions on the right to freedom of association that contravene international human rights law, the organizations said. In 2011 the UAE authorities closed down the Jurists Association and the Teachers’ Association, claiming that both organizations had violated article 16 of the 2008 Law on Association, which prohibits nongovernmental organizations and their members from interfering “in politics or in matters that impair state security and its ruling regime.”

The detention of Abdulla al-Hadidi appears to be an escalation of the authorities’ attempts to obstruct independent scrutiny of the trial, the organizations said. Authorities charged al-Hadidi on March 28 under article 265 of the penal code for publishing details of a public trial session “without probity and in bad faith.” The authorities invoked the 2012 federal decree on cybercrime, article 46 of which makes the use of the Internet or information technology an aggravating factor in the commission of crimes. The judge at the Court of First Instance in Abu Dhabi denied al-Hadidi bail.

Prior to the March 4 opening of the trial, security officials denied entry to the UAE to Ahmed Nashmi al-Dhafeeri, the international observer for Amnesty International, and Noemie Crottaz, a representative of the Geneva-based human rights organization Alkarama. Several international observers did make it into the country, but authorities prevented them from entering the court despite the fact that they had complied with the stipulated procedures and furnished the requisite documentation.

The serious violations of due process in the pre-trial period included holding at least 64 of the detainees at undisclosed locations for periods of up to one year before the trial. Many of the detainees did not have access to legal assistance until late February. When they did finally meet with their lawyers, a representative of the state security prosecutor was in the room and within earshot, in violation of the requirement under international law for confidentiality in conversations between lawyers and clients.

In a statement given to the state news agency on March 8, the Emirates Human Rights Association (EHRA), which has close ties to the UAE authorities, praised the first hearing. “The judge allowed the defendants the right to speak and to express their demands through the defense lawyers,” the association said. The EHRA stated that “the defendants looked in good health, and there was no evidence of torture,” although the organization also reported that some of the defendants said they had been tortured when arrested and that two of them said they had been subjected to enforced disappearance for five months.

Groups in the coalition of human rights organizations have documentedcredible allegations of torture at UAE State Security facilities for many years, as well as the prolonged incommunicado detention of one of the detainees, Ahmed al-Suweidi, which amounted to an enforced disappearance. People who were in the courtroom on March 4 said that al-Suweidi, whose well-being is of grave concern because of the deterioration in his physical and mental condition, declared his innocence. They quoted him as saying, “I know that what I’m going to say may cost my life, but I deny the charges, and I ask the court to protect my life and the life of my family.”

In November 2011, an American civil liberties lawyer who monitored sessions of a trial of five political dissidents and who had studied all the case documents described the case as “riddled with legal and procedural flaws right from the beginning” and concluded that “flagrant due process flaws” essentially had denied the five men the right to a fair trial.

The UAE authorities have not granted independent monitors access to this trial, but there have been indications that proceedings have followed a similar pattern. Well-informed sources have reported that lawyers and defendants have not had adequate time to question witnesses and that the judge on at least one occasion intervened to prevent the court registrar from officially registering potentially exculpatory testimony from the official record of proceedings. The sources also said that the judge denied a request from one of the defense lawyers to investigate the alleged forgery of some of the detainees’ signatures on documents submitted by the prosecution.

The organizations strongly urge the UAE authorities to:

  • Clarify the charges and to strike down any charges that relate solely to the free peaceful expression of political opinion or free association;
  • Grant access to the proceedings to the public, including family members, the international media and independent monitors;
  • Provide independent forensic medical examinations to defendants who say they have been tortured;
  • Exclude any evidence obtained by torture from the trial;
  • Ensure  prompt, independent, and impartial investigations  into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, and other serious human rights violations and bring suspected perpetrators to justice in proceedings that comply with international fair trial standards; and
  • Ensure that victims of torture, enforced disappearance, and arbitrary detention receive full reparations.

The UAE is party to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which states in article 13 that“Trials shall be public, except in exceptional cases that may be warranted by the interests of justice in a society that respects human freedoms and rights.”

“When the UAE was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council in November, it promised to uphold the highest standards in promoting and protecting human rights,” said Ann Harrison, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International.  “But the authorities’ handling of this trial raises troubling questions about the UAE’s commitment to holding fair trials and respecting other fundamental human rights standards.”

 

UAE: ANHRI Demands from the Authorities the Immediate Release of the Activist Abdullah-El-Hadidi and Drops all the Charges Pressed on Him

Cairo March 31, 2013

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), denounces the intransigence of the authorities with the families of the detainees and the use of all the repressive methods with them to silence their voice and to stop speaking about the case of the detainees or disseminating any news related to it.

On Thursday, March 28, 2013, the court refused to release the activist “El-Hadidi” on a bond. As he was arrested on Friday, March 22, 2013, who is one of the significant reports of the trials course of the 94 detainees via twitter. In addition to his cooperation with the Rights Observing Committees which attended the hearings trials and his continued communication with the families of the detainees.

The court pressed several charges such as publishing with dishonesty and with by intention the course of the public trial in the High Federal Court in the case no. 17 of 2013 – State Security- via his personal account on twitter. The charges included also, using violence and force with the two police officers (Rabiee’ Amziayan and Mustafa Fares) –  from the Department of the Private Security Guards in the General Headquarter of Abu-Dhabi police forces to abstain them from performing their work of maintaining order and securing the Hight Federal Court hall and the defendants attending the case no. 17 of 2013 – State Security, in an implementation to the court decision.

It is worthy to be noted that “El-Hadidi” is tried according to the articles 5/1, 248/1 and 265 of the federal penalty law and the two articles 1 and 1/46 of law no. 5 of 2012 related to the combating of IT crimes in addition to the two articles no. 2, paragraph “B” and no. 45 of the penal code no.1 of 1970 on the penal code to Abu-Dhabi.

ANHRI said “pressing such charges on the activist “El-Hadidi” is a serious violation to his right to expression and the exchange of information, that supposedly available as it is a public trial according to the authorities. In addition to such charges remind us of the case of “Moza El-Mansouri” the daughter of “Dr. Mohamed El-Mansouri”, who was accused of assaulting a security personnel in the court as she was sentenced for a three months imprisonment by the First Instance Court and then was acquitted by the Court of Appeal”.

ANHRI added that “how the authorities say that the court is public while in the same time, ban the families of the detainees from attending the hearings of the court. In addition to banning the human rights observers from attending the hearings and harassing who exchanges its news”.

ANHRI demands from the authorities to immediately release the activist “El-Hadidi” and drop all the charges pressed on him in addition to guarantee his safety.
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Q8Con: Kuwait mini Comic-Con

q8con11I always dreamed that they bring Comics Convention (AKA Comic-Con) to Kuwait, and I got quite jealous when I knew they that they brought Comic-Con to Abu Dhabi back in 2011, there were rumors that Comic-Con is actually coming to Kuwait but rumors stayed rumors.

Short brief about Comic-Con from uncle Wikipedia;

“It’s an event showcasing comic books, science fiction/fantasy and film/television, and related popular arts, the convention now includes a larger range of pop culture elements, such as horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novel.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaEyz1MtXSQ

Enough said, I came to know through our friend Area965 that there’re going to organize a Comic-Con-like event so-called Q8Con next summer in Kuwait. The organizers promise a fun event that attracts fans of Anime, Manga, Games and Comics. The activities include video game tournaments, cosplays, performances, artist-fan meetups and various such things and that a lot of artists, performers, producers, writers, media-personnel, artists and game designers from various parts of the world particularly the GCC. This is a first-time thing in Kuwait, hope it turns out fun.

Check out their facebook page for more information [link].

Via [Area965]

UAE Opens Biggest Solar Power Station In The World

The Shams Power Company opened their Shams 1 concentrated solar power station this week in Abu Dhabi. The station generates 100 MW and can power 20,000 homes while reducing CO2 emissions by 175,000 tons per year. [Source]

Kuwait is currently in the process of building a solar power station as well and is expected to be completed by the end of this year (2013).

The project took about two years and $600 million to build. [Source]

Now this is what I find interesting. Their solar power station is costing $600 million to build while ours is costing just $16 million. So our power station is either going to be super tiny or they got ripped off pretty badly.

On a similar subject, here is a link to vintage photos of the Shuwaikh Power Station taken back in the 1950s. [Link]