Islamists detained in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly plotting to overthrow the regime have been subjected to systematic mistreatment including torture, three human rights groups said on Thursday.
Ninety-four Islamists who are members or supporters of Al-Islah group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood are on trial in the UAE and expecting a verdict on July 2 from the Court of State Security.
In a joint statement, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Alkarama said they received 22 handwritten letters sent by some of the detainees citing "systematic mistreatment and torture".
"The mistreatment described in the letters is consistent with other allegations of torture at UAE state security facilities, and indicates that torture is a systematic practice at these facilities," the groups said.
Signup to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
They said that on March 4, at their first trial hearing, some defendants told the judge they had been "seriously ill-treated during months in detention".
The groups called on the UAE authorities to "ensure prompt, independent, and impartial investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, enforced disappearances and other serious human rights violations".
The detainees, arrested between March and December 2012 and eight of whom are being tried in absentia, are accused of being part of an "illegal secret group plotting to take power".
On June 19, the UAE authorities also announced they were charging a group of 30 Egyptian and Emiratis with setting up an illegal branch of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.
The United Arab Emirates is one of the most stable countries in the Middle East and has so far not seen any attacks by Al-Qaeda. It has also been spared in the wave of Arab Spring uprisings.