UAE rights group calls to speed up Islamist trials

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 23, 2012 2:31 PM
UAE rights group calls to speed up Islamist trials

DUBAI (Reuters) - A local human rights group on Tuesday called on the United Arab Emirates authorities to speed up trials of Islamists detained over alleged threats to state security but dismissed concerns of possible torture and abuse raised by some families and activists

The UAE, a major oil exporter and regional business hub, has arrested some 60 local Islamists, accusing them of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned in the country, and conspiring to overthrow the government.

"I am calling to expedite presenting those people for trial so we stop this noise we are hearing," said Abdul-Ghaffar Hussein, head of the Emirates Human Rights Association (EHRA), referring to reports of abuse raised by some international rights groups and circulated on social media websites.

He said members of EHRA, the only human rights group licensed by the UAE government, had met recently with 10 detainees who have denied being subjected to torture or abuse.

"Those whom we have met unanimously (denied) any physical harm or maltreatment and (said) the treatment was good," he said in a news conference.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch had expressed concern about possible torture or ill treatment of those detained.

Some local activists and family members have raised similar concerns on Twitter social media accounts in recent weeks after not being allowed to meet those held in detention.

Last month a statement sent from some families by a group calling itself "UAE Detainees" said those arrested have been held in solitary confinement and cramped cells and have been denied having the right to appoint a lawyer.

The UAE, which tolerates no organized political opposition, had said in July it was investigating a foreign-linked group planning "crimes against the security of the state".

Last month, local media reported that some of those detained had confessed that their organization was running an armed wing and had been plotting to take power and establish an Islamist state.

Most of the detained men belong to the local Islamist Al Islah (Reform) group, which has denied the accusations.

Thanks to a cradle-to-grave welfare system, the UAE has largely avoided Arab Spring movements that have ousted autocratic rulers and propelled Islamists to power elsewhere.

Concerned about possible spillover from those uprisings, the UAE has acted quickly to isolate dissidents.

Local Islamists say they share a similar ideology with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt but deny having direct links and are pushing only for peaceful political reforms.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Michael Roddy)