H.E. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Zl Nahyan, May God Protect Him
President of the United Arab Emirates
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, May God Protect Him
Vice President of the United Arab Emirates
H.E. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, May God Protect Him
Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi
Peace Be Upon You,
We, the families of Dr. Nasser Ahmed Khalfan Bin Gaith Al Merri (41, Emirati), Ahmed Mansour Ali Abdullah Al Abd Al Shihhi (42, Emirati), Fahd Mohamed Salim al Dalak Al Shihhi (39, Emirati), Hassan Ali Hassan Nasser Al Khamis (39, Emirati), and Ahmed AbdulKhaliq Ahmed Karim (34, without identity documents), who are held in prison over misdemeanor cases at the Higher Federal Court. We come forward with this petition to your most courteous selves after they had spent 6 full months in imprisonment.
The families of the detainees suffered for more than 180 days the absence of their sons, husbands, fathers and brothers, behind the bars. The detainees had also suffered the bitterness of prison, and the violation of their basic right to have a fair trial, that people will see it as fair and just, that follows, from start to end, the standards stated in the UAE Constitution, and international human rights treaties.
According to article 10 of the UDHR that the state follows, being a member of the UN, it’s said that, “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.”
According to the UAE Constitution, article 94, “Justice is the basis of rule”, and article 26, “Personal liberty is guaranteed to all citizens. No person may be arrested, searched, detained or imprisoned except in accordance with the provisions of law.
No person shall be subjected to torture or to degrading treatment”. Article 28 “Penalty is personal. An accused shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty in a legal and fair trial. The accused shall have the right to appoint the person who is capable to conduct his defence during the trial.”
The procedures and treatment for the detainees either before or during the trial, violated the standards of fair trial as internationally defined, and that is due according to international treaties, declarations and protocols, and according to the decisions of the UN mechanisms. That violation to standards was clear, with no chance to misinterpret it, as follows:
1. Their right to be informed immediately of the reasons for arrest or detention was violated. They were not told why their freedom was confiscated upon their arrest. Moreover, the way they were arrested and the way their houses were inspected, appalled their families and children. Some family members are still suffering shock.
2. Violation of our rights as families to be informed of arrest or detention and place of confinement of them. We stayed anxious for several days, afraid about their fate to a great extent, and we were not notified until much later.
3. The violation of their right to be presumed innocent and be treated as such. The right to be assumed innocent means those public authorities, particularly public prosecution and police, should not make statements about the guilt or innocence of an accused before the outcome of the trial. The Attorney General declared in two occasions (April 25 and September 25) that it has been proven that they have committed the crimes attributed to them.
4. The violation of the legal obligation on the authorities to prevent the news media or other powerful social groups from influencing the outcome of a case by pronouncing on its merits. There was a huge smear campaign against the detainees since day one after they were detained, and from some persons, websites, and satellite channels that we know by name, who kept accusing them with false accusations, raising doubts about their patriotism and loyalty to the country, and kept demanding the strongest of penalties against them, including the death penalty, while they are still at the phase of “assumed innocent”. This flagrant violation to the principle of innocence created a hostile atmosphere against the detainees and against their families. The authorities didn’t do anything to stand up to the people behind that organized campaign, while the detainees and their lawyer came forward many times with complains about this, to the police and public prosecution.
5. The violation of their right to be brought promptly before a judge or judicial officer. Some of them spent 18 hours in detention inside a car with shaded windows, without being able to use the bathroom or pray. One of them had to relief himself inside the detention car.
6. Incommunicado detention for extended periods of time, in a bad condition, which can be in itself considered as a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading.
7. The violation of their right to access to legal counsel without delay after arrest, within no more than 48 hour. They didn’t meet their lawyers until after a long period of time.
8. The violation of their right to release pending trial. As a general rule, detainees accused of criminal deeds shouldn’t stay detained until they are referred to the court. This rule comes from the right to liberty and the right to be assumed innocent until proven otherwise. The charges against them are not among the charges that makes detention unavoidable.
9. The violation of international standards to have them treated as detainees awaiting trial, which is a different treatment from that of convicted detainees.
10. The violation of their right to humane conditions in detention, in breach of the Standard Minimum Rules for The Treatment of Prisoners. They, being unconvicted prisoners, were not segregated from criminals who have been convicted and sentenced, and some of them were shackled with chains handcuffs, and were not allowed to complain to the central authority for prisons, or to the public prosecution. They were occasionally deprived of being exposed to natural light, recreation time, and exercise.
11. The violation of their right to adequate medical care. Some of them fell sick and had wounds that were not treated promptly. The detention facility’s administration took many days before provided them with assistance and medical when it was necessary.
12. The violation of the international standards of the right to be granted access to appropriate information, including public prosecution documents, information and other evidence that might help them prepare their case, exonerate them or, if necessary, mitigate a penalty. After 6 months of their arrest they didn’t get this information, and they were not notified about the charges against them in detail, and they didn’t have information on these charges or its causes.
13. The violation of their right to be tried without undue delay, as determined in the international standards for fair trials, within a reasonable time.
14. The violation of the right to public hearing. The right to a public hearing means that not only the parties in the case, but also the general public, have the right to be present. The hearings were convened in secret for 5 months, which is a violation to the right to fair trial.
15. The violation of the right to equal treatment by the court. The defence and the prosecution were not treated in a manner that ensures that both parties have an equal opportunity to prepare and present their case during the course of the proceedings.
16. The violation of the international standards of right of the defence to question witnesses against the accused. Defense wasn’t able to question a security officer thoroughly, and was allowed a short period of time to question a second security officer and other witnesses.
17. Violation of their right to obtain the attendance of witnesses and to examine witnesses on their behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against them.
18. The defense lawyers were not free from intimidation and improper interference in the exercise of their professional duties. The basic international rules require that authorities should provide enough protection to lawyers, if their security is compromised because of their professional duties, and to enable them to carry on their professional duties without intimidation or obstacles of any kind.
19. The violation of international standards in terms of adequate time and facilities to prepare a defence.
20. The violation of their right to appeal the court decision that may be issued in their case.
The violation of part of international standards of fair trials is bound to prove the trial procedures invalid, so how about 20 violations that marred the case of the detainees.
We turn to you, with what we always had known about you, with your spirit as fathers, and your pure tolerance, and what we know about your sure aspiration to alleviate injustice and preserve the face of our dear country clear and bright, having our country, as always, a safe haven of justice and dignity. We turn to you asking for your interference, with your influence, in order to stop this trial that isn’t consistent with international standards for fair trial, cancel the charges and to order the release of the detainees.
May God preserve you for the homeland and the citizens, may God raise high the flag of justice and truth in the sky of our United Arab Emirates.
Families of the detainees