ISTANBUL

The UAE continued to detain human rights activists, who demanded democratic reform in the country, although they have completed their sentences, a rights group said.

In a statement, the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE) said Fahad al-Hijri, a human rights activist, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for signing a declaration calling for political reform, should have been released in March, but he is still behind bars.

Other jailed activists, including Abdallah Ali Alhajery, Oman Alharethy and Mahmoud Alhoseny, have also completed their sentences on July 16, 2019, it said.

The activists were convicted in a mass trial, known as the UAE 94, which saw the imprisonment of 69 social and political activists in 2013, the statement noted. 

The rights group said there are eight more inmates who have been indefinitely detained in Al-Razen Prison, described as “Guantanamou of the UAE.”

“These prisoners’ detention has been extended indefinitely under the UAE’s Counter Terrorism Law with the pretence that they pose a terrorist threat to the state and require “counseling” before being released into society,” it said.

While many prisoners have been released in many countries due to the coronavirus pandemic, the rights group said, UAE authorities continue to detain prisoners whose sentences are over.

“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now reached al-Wathba prison and could soon rampage in UAE detention facilities with catastrophic effects, we call on the Emirati government to release all prisoners of conscience and particularly those held beyond their release dates,” it added.

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