Rights defenders and prisoners of conscience facing clampdown
Dubai – Arabstoday
Six human rights organisations on Monday urged the United Arab Emirates [UAE] to end its "current crackdown" on rights and political activists, as the Gulf state announced it was putting 94 Islamist detainees on tria
The organisations, including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, launched their appeal on the day the UN Human Rights Council was expected to review the country's human rights record.
"Since March 2011, a severe crackdown against human rights defenders, civil society activists and advocates of political reform has been carried out by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates," the groups said in a statement.
The groups urged authorities in the federation of sheikhdoms to "release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience and activists including human rights defenders."
They also called on authorities to "ensure that detainees deemed to have broken the law be brought before a judge, be charged with a crime and be provided with the legal assistance of their choosing."
The statement described a Sunday announcement concerning the prosecution of 94 UAE suspects as a "parody of judicial proceedings,” after more than six months of detention for some "without any judicial proceedings" and a day before the UN Human Rights Council revision.
It urged the UAE to "ensure that all trials meet international fair trial standards, including the full independence of the judiciary."
Attorney General Salem Kobaish on Sunday said the UAE will put on trial 94 Islamists accused of forming a "secret organisation" and plotting to seize power, in addition to having contact with organisations "abroad" including Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The oil-rich UAE has not seen any of the widespread pro-reform protests which have swept other Arab countries, including fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman.
But authorities have stepped up a crackdown on voices of dissent and calls for democratic reform.