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UAE- Continued campaign of harassment and intimidation against prominent human rights lawyer Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti

2013-11-15

New reports received by the Gulf Centre or Human Rights (GCHR) confirmed that State Security Apparatus continues its campaign of harassment and intimidation against human rights lawyer Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti.

Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti is a prominent human rights lawyer who has in the last year represented many of the detained human rights defenders and activists known as the UAE 94. According to international legal observers the trial was conducted with “flagrant disregard of fair trial guarantees” and “did not follow the international standards for fair trial and due process.” Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti represented 86 of the detainees, as other lawyers were reluctant to come forward. One of the other defence lawyers withdrew during the trial citing personal reasons. The GCHR believes that this is indicative of the crackdown on freedom of speech in the UAE and an example of the structural problems faced by defence lawyers in cases with a political background.

In such cases they cannot be assured that their rights under the UN “Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers” are being protected.  In particular, under Article 16 governments should ensure that:

“lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.”

Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti has indicated that he would continue to defend political cases in order to support freedom of expression and of association in the UAE despite the intimidation he is suffering. The tactics include following his car at all times. The registration plates of the cars have been noted and show a consistent pattern. [1]

Human rights lawyer and member of the GCHR board, Melanie Gingell said, “It is deeply concerning that a lawyer should be intimidated in this way simply for carrying out his professional duties. Lawyers have a crucial role to play in protecting the fundamental rights of the public and the rule of law. They should be supported and protected by the authorities in order to allow them to carry out their professional duties.”

The GCHR believes that the campaign of intimidation and harassment against Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti are directly related to his peaceful and legitimate activities in defence of human rights. The GCHR is concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti, particularly in the light of the recent reports of the campaign of harassment and intimidation against him by State Security Apparatus.

GCHR urges the UAE authorities to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally stop targeting Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti as the GCHR believes he has been targeted solely as a result of his legitimate human rights work;

2. Ensure that no more human rights defenders are targeted as a result of their human rights work;

3. Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Abdulhamid Al-Kumaiti;

4. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”  and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.

 



[1]- Car No. 98742 - Ajman plate no., corolla, white 

- Car No. 30648 - Sharjah plate no., Toyota.

- Car No. 41945 - Sharjah plate no. , Altima, gray.

- Car No. 30644 - Sharjah plate no. , white car

- Car No. 48196 - Ajman plate no., corolla, gray