Libyans in the UAE 'face unfair trial'

Libyans in the UAE 'face unfair trial'
The trial of four Libyans accused by the UAE of supporting armed and political groups in Libya is 'mired in allegations of torture and forced disappearance' says Human Rights Watch.
3 min read
06 February, 2016
The men have been charged with supporting armed and political groups in Libya [AFP]

Four Libyans arrested in the United Arab Emirates, charged with links to armed and political groups in Libya, are unlikely to receive a fair trial, a leading human rights organisation has said.

The defendants, who all deny the charges, lack full access to their lawyers and evidence against them, Human Rights Watch [HRW] said.

They all claim to have been tortured during pre-trial detention, with at least three claiming to have been forcibly detained after their arrest.

"Yet again, a high-profile trial in the UAE is mired in allegations of forced disappearance and torture," said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at HRW.

"The UAE should take immediate steps to reverse its dismal handing of this case, including an immediate investigation into the torture claims," he added.

The men were arrested in August 2014 and held in incommunicado detention for four months at a state security facility where previous detainees have alleged they were tortured into confessing links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to their family and their lawyers, the men had no access to legal assistance for at least 16 months.

Their lawyers say they could not find out what charges their clients were facing until the first trial session on 18 January 2016, while prosecutors have failed to provide case files outlining the evidence against them.

The next session trial session is scheduled for 15 February 2016.

Furthermore, the decision to prosecute the case before the Federal Supreme Court under state security procedures deprives the defendants of the right to appeal.

Paul Champ, a Canadian lawyer representing one of the defendants, Salim Alaradi, told Human Rights Watch that the men had been charged with providing material support to and cooperating with Libya Dawn and the 17 February Brigade in Libya.

Both are classified as terrorist groups by the prosecution.

The other defendants are Kamal and Mohamed Eldarat, a father and son who hold joint Libyan and American citizenship, and Isa al-Manna, a Libyan citizen.

Mohamed Eldarat told his lawyer that interrogation techniques have left him deaf in his left ear.

HRW has called on UAE authorities to "undertake independent and timely criminal investigations into these credible allegations of torture and enforced disappearance, leading to the identification and prosecution of those responsible".

The US-based international NGO has asked for all those who have alleged torture to receive independent forensic medical exams, and that any evidence obtained by torture should be excluded from any trial.

"The UAE claims to see terrorists everywhere and seems to have given its brutal state security apparatus free rein to abuse those accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood," Stork said.