UAE Suppresses Free Expression and Association in Arrests and Court Case | Freedom House

UAE Suppresses Free Expression and Association in Arrests and Court Case

Freedom House expresses its concern about the November 5 trial of 20 Egyptians and 10 Emiratis accused of establishing a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United Arab Emirates. The charges show the government’s increasing effort to suppress criticism of the regime at the expense of the freedoms of expression and association.

Letters smuggled from the Egyptian prisoners alleged torture and threats of further harm if the prisoners do not confess to the charges. Thus far, Emirati authorities have failed to conduct any investigation into the allegations of torture.

The case bears disappointing resemblance to the July 2, 2013 mass trial of 94 government critics, 69 of whom were members of Islah, an Islamist group that the UAE government believes maintains ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. Smuggled letters described torture of the prisoners. Despite a court order for medical examinations, no investigations were carried out. Ultimately, 69 defendants were sentenced to seven to 15 years in prison for intending to overthrow the regime, in what a coalition of international and regional human rights groups has deemed a “fundamentally unfair trial.”

Freedom House calls on the judiciary of the UAE to ensure an impartial and just trial of the defendants. The court cannot justifiably convict individuals for practicing their freedoms of association and expression. Similarly, the judiciary should offer a retrial of those currently serving out their sentences from the July trial.

Having ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture, the UAE must uphold its obligations and launch a thorough investigation into the torture of political prisoners. Freedom House looks to the UAE, as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, to rectify human rights violations immediately.

Learn more:

Freedom in the World 2013: United Arab Emirates

Freedom of the Press 2013: United Arab Emirates

Freedom on the Net 2013: United Arab Emirates

Blog: Freedom at Issue