Because of their appeal to the United Nations

UAE court sentences Al-Abdouli, Al-Balushi to another 3 years

2 Oct 2021
UAE court sentences Al-Abdouli, Al-Balushi to another 3 years

The Emirates Detainees Advocacy Centre (EDAC) has learned that on 28 April, the Federal Court of Appeal in Abu Dhabi sentenced two detained Emirati activists, Maryam Al-Balushi and Amina Al Abdouli, to 3 years imprisonment in Case No. 61 of 2021 for "publishing false information that disturbs public order".

On 30 July 2019, the State Security Prosecution filed new charges against Al-Abdouli and Al-Balushi, who have been detained since 2015, for sending a series of audio recordings to the mandate holders in the United Nations Special Procedures that revealed important details about the violations they were subjected to in Emirati prisons.

These audio recordings, released on 29 May 2018, 12 November 2018, 29 November 2019 and 12 February 2019, contain information that Amina and Maryam were forcibly detained and tortured by officials of the UAE State Security Apparatus (SSA) in order to coerce them into signing confessions condemning them.

The two Emirati activists were subjected to severe retaliation by the Emirati authorities as a result of these recordings when they were transferred from Al-Wathba prison to an unknown location. They were referred to the prosecution and new charges were brought against them for "spreading false information that negatively affects the reputation of the UAE and Al-Wathba Prison" and "causing problems between countries" under Article 29 of the UAE Law on Combating Information Technology Crimes.

It is noteworthy that in November 2020, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued Opinion No. 61/2021, in which it described the detention of Maryam and Amina as arbitrary, called for their immediate release, and urged the government to provide them with compensation. It also stressed that the sending of the recordings to the mandate-holders under the UN special procedures fell under the "right to freedom of opinion and expression," and described the new charges as "clear retaliation for the request for assistance from the international community."

Despite this, the Emirati authorities ignored the opinion of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the urgent appeals made by a number of United Nations mandate holders in February 2019 regarding Maryam and Amina and prosecuted them on the new charges, ending with the imposition of new prison sentences against them.

It is noteworthy that the SSA arrested Amina and Maryam on November 19, 2015 on various charges. Amina was arrested for her tweets, while Maryam was arrested on charges of " financing terrorism" for helping a Syrian family.

While in detention, both were subjected to enforced disappearance for many months to force them to confess to the charges against them. The torture led to a deterioration in their physical and mental condition, as Amina damaged her left eye as a result of the torture she suffered, while Maryam's mental condition deteriorated significantly, prompting her to attempt suicide, which she miraculously survived.