A UN rights expert has raised the alarm over the United Arab Emiraye (UAE)’s decade-long imprisonment of five human rights defenders, demanding their immediate release.
The government in Abu Dhabi jailed Mohamed al-Mansoori, Hassan Mohammed Al-Hammad, Hadif Rashed Abdullah al-Owais, Ali Saeed Al-Kindi and Salim Hamdoon Al-Shahhi in 2013.
They are part of the so-called UAE-94, a group of 94 lawyers accused by Emirati officials of trying to overthrow the government.
UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor said in a statement that the sentences handed to the men were harsh.
“Their sentences were excessively severe and their detentions have been declared arbitrary according to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,” she said.
“They should have never been detained in the first place for legitimately exercising the freedoms that all people are entitled to,” she added.
Lawlor said the lawyers should be released “in order to continue their meaningful and necessary human rights work.”
The authorities stand accused of violating the lawyers’ right to a fair trial through denial or limited access to legal counsel.
There are also reports of torture by keeping the individuals in solitary confinement for prolonged periods, turning off air conditioning in high-temperature conditions, and covering windows to prevent prisoners from seeing sunlight.