Despite coronavirus threat, UAE authorities hold prisoners of conscience beyond their sentence
Far from reducing prison populations to mitigate the impact of coronavirus, which has now reached the UAE prison system, Emirati authorities continue to detain prisoners beyond their sentences.
Most recently, Fahad Al-Hajri was due for release on 20 March after serving a 7-year sentence in al-Razeen prison. However, he continues to languish behind bars over two months later with no indication of when he will be released. Al-Hajri was convicted during the grossly unfair mass trial known as the UAE 94 which, in 2013, saw the imprisonment of 69 social and political activists.
Al-Hajri is not alone in his fate; he is one of twelve political prisoners currently being detained beyond their sentence in the UAE. Three of them, Abdallah Ali Alhajery, Oman Alharethy and Mahmoud Alhoseny, were convicted alongside al-Hajri in the UAE 94 trial and were due to be released on 16 July 2019, after serving their 7-year prison sentences.
They join eight other prisoners, who have been indefinitely detained in Abu Dhabi’s notoriously repressive Al-Razeen prison. Ahmed Almolla, Faysal, Othman and Abdelwaheed Elshohy, Said Elbrimy, Abdallah El Helw, Mansour Al Ahmady and Kalifa Rabiaa, all of whom completed their sentences some time ago.
These prisoners’ detention has been extended indefinitely under the UAE’s Counter Terrorism Law with the pretence that they pose a terrorist threat to the state and require “counseling” before being released into society. They have been transferred to a so-called “counselling centre” within the al-Razeen prison complex with authorities repeatedly failing to clarify the duration of their additional detention.
The ongoing imprisonment of inmates beyond their sentence breaches both international human rights law and the UAE’s own laws regarding fair trials and due process. As there is no trial preceding their additional detention, those detained indefinitely cannot appeal any sentence, leaving them without a legal remedy.
Furthermore, prisoners held in al-Razeen prison have consistently reported inhumane living conditions, as well as the use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of prison warders.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now reached al-Wathba prison and could soon rampage in UAE detention facilities with catastrophic effects, we call on the Emirati government to release all prisoners of conscience and particularly those held beyond their release dates.
- Tomorrow, Thursday 4 June, ICFUAE and its partners will hold a Twitter action to raise awareness around the issue of indefinite detention in the UAE.
- For further information or comment, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0)7951524450