Jordan/UAE: Extradition of Al Rumaithi in violation of the Convention against Torture

خلف الرميثي

Alkarama strongly condemns Jordan's extradition of Emirati businessman Khalaf Abdulrahman Al Rumaithi – sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison in connection with the so-called "UAE 94" case by the Abu Dhabi authorities - despite the risk of torture and ill-treatment and in flagrant violation of the Convention against Torture to which Jordan is a party. 

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has expressed grave concern over Jordan's extradition of Khalaf Al Rumaithi to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) saying he may be ill-treated. He also urged the UAE authorities to ensure full respect for his rights and the immediate release of all those imprisoned for exercising their freedom of expression and association. 

Al Rumaithi was arrested upon arrival in the capital Amman on 7 May from Turkey, where he was granted citizenship, and released on bail on the grounds that he would appear in court on 16 May. 

However, the Jordanian authorities moved ahead and arrested and extradited him in flagrant violation of the Jordanian Constitution and human rights laws. 

UAE authorities admitted to receiving Al-Rumaithi, whom they described as "terrorist," adding that they had received from Jordan "Abdul Rahman's successor Humaid Al-Rumaithi," who "was convicted by the Federal Supreme Court in 2013 and others in Case No. 2012/79" where the court sentenced him in absentia to 15 years in prison for "creating a secret organization affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood." 

Alkarama is following the case of dozens of Emirati political detainees, known as "UAE 94", and has, in this context, filed complaints on their behalf before the UN Special Procedures on Human Rights. 

UAE 94 

The UAE continues to ignore all calls for human rights to end its crackdown on peaceful activists and political opponents. 

Among them, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms. Mary Lawler, called for the immediate release of five human rights defenders who have been languishing in prison since 2013, noting that they have been subjected to torture, ill-treatment and unfair trials. 

For years, Alkarama has followed cases of prisoners of conscience and persecution of human rights defenders in the UAE, from arrest to trial, and has filed individual complaints with UN Special Procedures. Through her reports, it alerted the Human Rights Council to the repression of human rights defenders in the context of the UAE's Universal Periodic Review and engaged in extensive human rights campaigns by human rights groups to push the international community to pressure the UAE to end the series of crackdowns and persecution of political leaders and human rights defenders. 

In light of Alkarama's complaints, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, in its Opinion 60/2013 of 9 September 2013, concluded that the charges against them fall within the rights to freedom of expression, stressing that the restrictions imposed on these rights cannot be considered proportionate and justified. 

This is the third UN opinion adopted since 2009 on allegations of violations of "freedom of expression", "fair trials" and the right "not to be arbitrarily detained" in the UAE and described by the UN as systematic practices. Alkarama has informed UN human rights mechanisms of violations since the beginning of the UAE's crackdown on human rights defenders and political activists and until the sentencing of 94 reformers in July 2013 and beyond. 

On 19 August 2013, Alkarama called on the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to issue a decision on 61 detainees in the case of the 94 reformers who were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 7 to 10 years. In response, on 9 September 2013, the Working Group sought clarification from the United Arab Emirates on these allegations. As the Government failed to reply within the 60-day time limit, the Working Group issued its decision on the arrest of 61 persons in this case. 

Previously, the Working Group had published Opinions 64/2011 and 8/2009, in which it noted violations of the freedoms of opinion and expression and the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, guaranteed by articles 7 and 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and violations of the right not to be arbitrarily detained in accordance with article 9 of the Declaration. 

The Working Group expressed concern about this typical practice of the United Arab Emirates, as reflected in these two opinions, and stresses the need for the Government to respect international law. 

Reprisals against victims' relatives 

The UAE authorities not only repress activists and political opponents, detain them for many years and impose harsh sentences after unfair trials, but they also take revenge on their families and harm victims' relatives in order to continue the repression and silence them. 

These policies are embodied in the case of Emirati prisoner of conscience Abdulsalam Darwish Al Marzouqi, for whom Alkarama intervened and filed a complaint – mentioning other figures known as the "94" – with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. 

Alkarama contacted the relatives of Mr. Abdulsalam Darwish Al Marzouqi, who had to leave the country in 2016 for a medical trip to the United States, and reported that their government had informed them by telephone of the withdrawal of their citizenship asking them to go to the passport office to hand over their passports and identity documents. 

"As we are in the United States, they asked my sister, who is currently the only one in the UAE, to go and hand over her passport, but she refused, and her identity documents were confiscated in 2017. She was also banned from travelling, in order to prevent her from following us. Currently her passport has expired and she is prevented from renewing it because of the decision to withdraw. All our passports are expired now and we cannot renew them for the same reason." 

"My father is still being held in al-Razeen prison and he forbids weekly visits. Since March 2020, my sister can no longer visit her identity documents that were confiscated in 2017. The only way for her to visit him without identification is to get permission from the authorities. She has only been able to see him twice since 2017." 

As for the rest of his family members residing in the United States, they have not been able to visit him or hear his voice since 2017, when he was prevented from contacting them because they refused to return to the UAE, after the authorities asked them to return and surrender their passports.