This year marks ten years since the arrest of four lawyers at the mass “UAE 94” trial that saw the unjust imprisonment of dozens of government critics and reform activists in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Having completed their prison sentences, these lawyers are set to be released either this year or next year. However, Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L) and the International Campaign for Freedom in the United Arab Emirates (ICFUAE) are concerned that the lawyers might be kept in detention centres instead under a vaguely worded counterterrorism law.
In July 2013, a group of 69 lawyers, human rights defenders and intellectuals were sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to overthrow the government. This event is referred to as the “UAE 94” trial. Among those prosecuted in this mass unfair trial are four UAE lawyers:
Dr. Al-Roken is well-known for defending victims of human rights violations in the UAE. He defended some members of the “UAE 5”, five individuals sentenced to two to three years’ imprisonment in 2012 for having expressed criticism of government policies. In recognition of his courageous human rights work, Dr. Al-Roken was shortlisted as a finalist for the 2017 Lawyers for Lawyers Award.
Al-Roken was arrested on 17 July 2012, after calling for political reforms in the country and signing an online petition calling for democratic reforms in March 2011. On 2 July 2013, Dr. Al-Roken was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with additional administrative control measures and was prohibited from practicing his profession as a lawyer. Following his arrest, Dr. Al-Roken was detained in solitary confinement at an undisclosed location for eight months, without access to his lawyer and his family.
Dr. Mohamed al-Mansoori is a prominent lawyer working on human rights issues and was the former head of the United Arab Emirates Jurists’ Association board, which was dissolved by the authorities in 2011. He was arrested on 16 July 2012 after signing an online petition calling for democratic reforms. On 2 July 2013, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Dr. Al-Mansoori was not allowed to contact his family for over a year.