Bloomberg News

U.A.E. Activists Not Treated Fairly, Lawyers Argue in Court

October 02, 2011

Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Lawyers for five activists in the United Arab Emirates accused of threatening security and insulting the president said the men are not being treated fairly while in jail.

Mohammed Roken, lawyer for two of the five men on trial, told the federal Supreme Court that the defendants are often subjected to solitary confinement and attorneys are not permitted to cross examine witnesses in the case. None of the defendants were present in court today.

Activists circulated an online petition in April demanding that balloting for seats on the Federal National Council, a government advisory board, be held through universal elections. The petition, signed by about 140 people including academics and journalists as well as the five people on trial, also called for the constitution to be amended to give the body full legislative and regulatory authority.

Elections for the council were held last week with about 15 percent of all U.A.E. citizens entitled to vote, based on the national electoral college system.

The five activists were arrested in April on charges that include participating in an online pro-democracy discussion group called UAE Hewar. The verdict is expected Oct. 9.

Amnesty International, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Front Line Defenders, and Human Rights Watch called the trial “fundamentally unfair” in a joint e-mailed statement today.

--Editors: Andrew J. Barden, Shaji Mathew

To contact the reporter on this story: Vivian Salama in Abu Dhabi at vsalama@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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