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Human rights groups critical of UAE trial

A coalition of international human rights groups on Monday criticized [report] the trial of 94 activists in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) [BBC profile]. The joint endeavor is led by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, the International Federation of Human Rights, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies [advocacy websites]. Of the report's many criticisms, the coalition alleges a breach of the right to a fair trial as well as serious defects involving principles of equality and proper detention and procedure. The report accuses the judge of failing to look into credible allegations of torture [BBC report] of the defendants and calls for an immediate investigation into the matter.

Last month the UAE began the trial [JURIST report] of 94 people charged with plotting to overthrow the government. The group of defendants includes unnamed doctors, academics, lawyers and other professionals [Guardian report] arrested over the past year and accused of forming a secret network with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood [official website; JURIST news archive] and designs to raise money in a plotted coup against Emirati ruling families. UAE authorities began arresting al-Islah members last March, when security forces arrested Ahmed al-Zaabi, a former judge, and Ahmed Ghaith al-Suwaidi together at a Dubai gas station. They detained the chairman of al-Islah, Sheikh Sultan Bin Kayed al-Qasimi, on April 20. Since last year both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have called on the UAE to investigate allegations of torture and stop the recent crackdown on political activists [JURIST reports] by ending arrests and releasing those already in custody, expressing concern that the UAE is threatening to revoke prisoners' citizenship as a way of punishing them for expressing public dissent, an action that the advocacy groups contend violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [text].

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