Skip to main content

Amnesty urges UAE to free 10 prisoners kept beyond sentences

Rights group says men are continuing to be detained on pretext of 'counter-extremism counselling'
For years, rights groups and several western officials have called for the release of the imprisoned members of the "UAE 94".
For years, rights groups and several western officials have called for the release of the imprisoned members of the "UAE 94" (AFP/File photo)

Amnesty International on Monday urged the United Arab Emirates to "immediately" release 10 men who it said were being arbitrarily detained beyond their jail sentences.

They were being kept in detention "on the pretext of 'counter-extremism counselling'", according to Amnesty.

"My father has completed his sentence, and yet after all these long years, he is still locked up in prison for an indefinite period, not subject to any law," a son of one of the prisoners told Amnesty.

Rights groups demand release of 'UAE 94' prisoners on anniversary of infamous trial
Read More »

Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director Lynn Maalouf said the continued detention of the individuals is "the latest example of how UAE authorities weaponize the justice system, undermine the rule of law, criminalize peaceful dissent, and silence anyone who disagrees with them".

"These men have already spent a decade behind bars for daring to speak out against the Emirati authorities or being perceived as political opposition, and now this injustice is being prolonged past their long-awaited release dates," Maalouf said in a statement.

"UAE authorities must immediately release anyone detained beyond the completion of their prison sentence, and cease the unlawful practice of arbitrarily extending prison terms."

The 10 UAE citizens were among 69 nationals arrested in 2012 and jailed in 2013 for up to 15 years on charges of plotting to overthrow the government, in a trial known as the "UAE 94" case.

The "UAE 94" case was a mass trial - the largest in the history of the country - in 2013 involving 94 people including 13 women who were accused of trying to overthrow the Emirati government, a charge the defendants vehemently denied.

Prosecutors said the accused were linked to Al-Islah, a group with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE categorises as a terrorist organisation. 

It resulted in the conviction of 69 people - eight in absentia - who received sentences as long as 15 years. A total of 25 people were acquitted including all 13 women arrested in the crackdown.

Two years earlier, the 94 individuals had reportedly signed a petition calling on the Emirati government to institute a set of democratic reforms.

The signatories were said to have called for an elected Federal National Council with full regulatory powers and universal suffrage, a retreat of the security state, and basic human rights within the existing framework of a constitutional monarchy.

Amnesty International condemned the verdicts at the time as "grossly unfair" and the charges as "bogus".

For years, rights groups and several western officials have called for the release of the imprisoned members of the "UAE 94".

Middle East Eye reached out to the UAE embassy in Washington for comment on Amnesty's statement but did not receive a response by the time of publication.