UAE: Eight Lebanese Face Unfair Trial | Human Rights Watch
(Beirut) – Emirati authorities detained eight Lebanese nationals for more than a year without charge in an unknown location, ill-treating them and denying them their due process rights, Human Rights Watch said today. Their trial, which began on February 13, 2019, continues to be marred with violations. The third session is set for March 27.
Family members told Human Rights Watch that the defendants, who face terrorism charges, have been held in prolonged solitary confinement and denied access to their families, legal counsel, and the evidence against them. At least three detainees told family members that state security forces forced them to sign statements while blindfolded and under duress, and one said they forced him to sign a blank paper.
“The UAE authorities reveal in their treatment of these men just how unwilling they are to reform their unjust state security apparatus,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “These men deserve, at the very least, to be treated humanely and to receive a fair trial.”
The men – all of whom are Shia Muslims – have each lived and worked in the UAE for more than 15 years. Seven worked at Emirates Airlines as flight attendants, pursers, or senior managers. Family members said that none had any known political affiliations.
State security forces arrested one defendant between December 2017 and January 2018, three defendants on January 15, and four others on February 18, and continue to hold them in solitary confinement without access to legal assistance, family members said. At the second session of their trial, on February 27, the prosecutor charged them with setting up a terrorist cell with links to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah holds several key positions in the Lebanese government, yet is designated a terrorist organization in the UAE. Family members said that at least seven of the men still have not been able to meet with their lawyers and six remain in solitary confinement. All of the defendants deny the charges, family members who attended the hearings said.