UAE’s second-largest political mass trial is underway

UAE’s second-largest political mass trial is underway

While December 2023 saw the global spotlight on Dubai for the COP28, Abu Dhabi discreetly conducted the second-largest political mass trial in the UAE’s history, known as the “UAE87” in a complete absence of media coverage.

On December 7, 2023, the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal held its first hearing of a new mass trial involving 84 individuals, while COP28 was still underway. Most of the defendants were activists and political dissidents that were convicted following the grossly unfair “UAE94” trial of 2013, the country’s largest political mass trial to date.

In 2011, 133 lawyers, students, university professors and other figures signed a petition asking for democratic reforms in the UAE. In 2012 and 2013, a mass crackdown occurred and most of them were arrested and charged with founding, organising, and administering an organisation aimed at overthrowing the government. This campaign of mass arrests ensued in the largest trial of UAE history with 94 defendants. Most of them were sentenced to 10 years in prison and an additional corresponding travel ban.

In an Opinion issued in November 2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) considered their detention to be arbitrary, as they were charged for acts that fall under their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. The WGAD therefore requested their immediate release, which the UAE did not fulfil. In fact, Emirati authorities continued to hold most of these prisoners of conscience after the completion of their sentences under the pretext of “rehabilitation”.

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