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HRW urges two countries to give detainees access to lawyers

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Saturday urged both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iran [press releases] to allow detainees access to lawyers and provide them with basic rights. It urged UAE to not only grant immediate access to lawyers, but also to either charge or release 13 Egyptian detainees who are accused of having ties to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood [JURIST news archives]. Some of the detainees, which include doctors, engineers and professors, have been held since November, and no charges have been filed against them yet. HRW also urged Iran [press release] to allow 20 detainees who are being held on charges related to the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists access to lawyers and family members. HRW also stated that Iran has not provided "basic information" about the charges to the detainees or their families, despite the possibility of severe penalties which could include death. In both cases, HRW expressed doubt as to whether the governments have credible evidence to sustain charges against the detainees, stating that if they did they would not be denying them basic rights and information about why they are being held.

Denying detainees accused of terrorism and other serious crimes basic human rights while they are detained is a controversial issue internationally. Earlier this month, HRW urged Afghanistan to make meaningful reforms to end torture [JURIST report] in government detention centers. This came weeks after the UN released a report detailing abuses [JURIST report] occurring in Afghanistan prisons. In November, the US Department of Justice announced that it would appeal [JURIST report] a court ruling [JURIST report] that rejected its argument that the government could set special rules regarding Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detainees' access to counsel. The US's treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has been the center of controversy since the US began holding prisoners there in 2002.

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