The Emirati authorities must ensure that Turkish-Emirati citizen Khalaf al-Rumaithi, who was forcibly deported to the UAE from Jordan, is protected from torture and other ill-treatment and that any retrial he may face is in accordance with international fair trial standards, said Amnesty International today.
Khalaf al-Rumaithi, who has been living in exile in Türkiye for the past decade, had flown to Jordan on 7 May in search of a school for his children. On arrival, al-Rumaithi was apprehended by airport security officials acting on a UAE request for his arrest and deportation. He was later released on bail and allowed to enter Jordan but arrested again on May 8 before being deported in secrecy and in violation of a Jordanian court order, according to his lawyer Asem al-Omari.
The lawyer told Amnesty International that he was not granted access to his client after he last saw him at Jordan’s Marka prison on the morning of 9 May. Al-Rumaithi’s deportation comes after the UAE’s Federal Supreme Court sentenced him in absentia, in July 2013, to 15 years in prison following the grossly unfair and infamous “UAE-94” case against 94 dissidents, including members of the al-Islah political movement.
“As Khalaf al-Rumaithi’s safety hangs in the balance, the Emirati authorities must prioritize his safety and allow him prompt access to a lawyer, his family and any medical attention he may require. They must ensure that any retrial takes place in accordance with international fair trial standards, including crucially ensuring that all charges brought are in accordance with international law,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The state-owned Emirates News Agency, announcing Khalaf Al-Rumaithi’s deportation and arrest on Wednesday, said that he will face a retrial on the charge of affiliation with an organization “that aims to oppose the foundational principles of the UAE government”. This charge is incompatible with the right to freedom of association, and so is contrary to international human rights law.
The infamous “UAE-94” trial was deeply flawed, with defendants held incommunicado for periods of up to a year and several stating that they were tortured to “confess”. Sixty-nine men received prison sentences of up to 15 years. Fifty-one of these men have now completed their sentences, yet they remain unlawfully held.
In 2021, Amnesty International documented how Emirati authorities stripped the families of two “UAE-94” prisoners of Emirati nationality and prevented contact between the prisoners and their loved ones for months or even years at a time.