UAE denies international legal observer access to verdict in show trial of UAE94

Press release
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FIDH, the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) express their urgent concern that today, Ms. Melanie Gingell, the only international legal observer mandated to attend the final hearing in the trial of 94 human rights defenders and activists in UAE has been denied access to the hearing.

This denial puts the UAE in breach of a United Nations General Assembly resolution adopted in 1999 requiring states to allow trial observations to monitor whether international standards of fair trials are adhered to [1].

Today the observer from GCHR, FIDH, ANHRI and CIHRS, British human rights lawyer Melanie Gingell, who was to observe the final hearing of the trial on 2 July 2013, has been informed by authorities in UAE that she will not be allowed into the court despite the prior arrangement.

The authorities had previously written to the organisations that stating it would be a “public hearing by virtue of law” and that the international observer would be granted access.

The UAE has consistently denied access to international observers and to the international media to hearings in this trial. During the previous hearings on March 4th and March 11th 2013, Ms. Gingell and other international observers were denied access to the hearing despite their compliance with the stipulated procedures and presentation of documentation.

Many of the 94 accused who include some of the nation’s most prominent human rights lawyers, economists and even members of the ruling family, have made credible allegations that they have been tortured and held in solitary confinement for many months prior to the trial.

The UAE has an international obligation under the United Nations Convention on Torture to investigate these allegations, and yet they have failed to do so.

The UAE is also in breach of the United Nations General Assembly resolution contained in the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

Article 9(3) (b) states: “…..To the same end, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, inter alia: To attend public hearings, proceedings and trials so as to form an opinion on their compliance with national law and applicable international obligations and commitments ”.

The observer repeatedly asked the authorities why the legitimate request to grant access in order to monitor the trial was being denied. No reasons were given.

Our organisations call upon the UAE authorities to uphold their statements on the openness of the hearings and immediately grant access to the proceedings to the public, including family members, the international media and independent monitors.

Furthermore, our organisations deplore the repeated failure by the UAE to comply with their international obligations. The UAE took up a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council this year and signed the UN Convention against Torture in July 2012. The present state behavior makes a mockery of these commitments to the international community.

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