Individuals meet in Dubai on January 26, 2011, where Human Rights Watch accused UAE of harassing rights activists
Individuals meet in Dubai on January 26, 2011, where watchdog Human Right Watch accused UAE authorities of harassing rights activists and curbing freedom of expression. Six human rights organisations on Monday urged the UAE to end its "current crackdown" on rights and political activists, as the Gulf state announced it was putting 94 Islamist detainees on trial. © Karim Sahib - AFP/File
Individuals meet in Dubai on January 26, 2011, where Human Rights Watch accused UAE of harassing rights activists
AFP
Last updated: January 28, 2013

Rights NGOs urge UAE to end crackdown on activists

Six human rights organisations on Monday urged the UAE to end its "current crackdown" on rights and political activists, as the Gulf state announced it was putting 94 Islamist detainees on trial.

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 as a "parody of judicial proceedings" Sunday's announcement by UAE authorities about the prosecution of 94 UAE suspects, 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.

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