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Click to enlarge image Khalaf al-Romaythi. © 2023 Private

(Beirut) – Jordanian authorities have detained a dual Emirati-Turkish national and may extradite him to the United Arab Emirates, where he faces a serious risk of arbitrary detention, unfair trial and possible torture, Human Rights Watch said today. Is.

Officers detain 58-year-old Khalaf Abdul Rahman al-Romaythi upon his arrival from Turkey at Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport on May 7, 2023. They released him on bail later that day but took him into custody again on 8 May. His lawyers said that he could not be traced after May 9.

In July 2013, the Federal Supreme Court of the United Arab Emirates sentenced Al Romathy in absentia to 15 years in prison after the massive unfair and infamous “UAE94” mass trial of 94 critics of the government, of which 69 were convicted. The conviction was based on the peaceful exercise of their rights to free expression, association and assembly. Since his conviction, al-Romaythi has been living in exile in Turkey. Article 21 of the Jordanian constitution prohibits the extradition of “political refugees” “for the defense of their political beliefs or their freedom”.

UAE researcher Joy Shea said, “Emirati authorities have been violating the rights of al-Roumathy’s ‘UAE94’ co-defendants for more than a decade, and Jordan runs the risk of complicity in these abuses.” at Human Rights Watch. “The Jordanian authorities should also immediately disclose the whereabouts of al-Romaythi.”

On 7 May, al-Romaythi attempted to enter Jordan on his Turkish passport, but was stopped by Jordanian authorities after an iris scan at the airport suggested that Jordanian police had ordered his arrest based on a request from the United Arab Emirates. Warrant was issued. He was released later that day on 3,000 JOD (US$4,200) bail, his lawyers said, and allowed to enter Jordan.

Al-Romaythi’s lawyers told Human Rights Watch that the next day he was with a friend at a coffee shop in Amman when four plainclothes police officers arrested both of them. Jordanian police later went to al-Roumathy’s hotel room and confiscated his bags, clothes and electronic equipment, said one of his lawyers. Al-Roumathy sent a text message to his lawyer; writing, “They took me.” His lawyer tried to meet him that day but was turned away at the police station.

On 9 May, the lawyers said, a Jordanian court held a session at which they and al-Romaythi were present and presented a copy of the extradition request. The court canceled the bail, ordered his transfer to jail and fixed May 16 as the date of hearing.

When al-Romaythi’s lawyer was browsing the justice ministry’s electronic system on 10 May, he said he found a release order issued by the court. But al-Romaythi’s lawyers have been unable to locate him, and said no one has seen or contacted him since May 9.

Human Rights Watch received unconfirmed reports that al-Romaythi was deported to the United Arab Emirates on the morning of 12 May, but was not able to independently confirm the report. As of the afternoon of 12 May, al-Romaythi’s lawyers in Jordan had received no official information on his whereabouts.

One of the lawyers said that if the Jordanian authorities were to deport al-Romaythi, they would appear to have bypassed the country’s normal extradition process. He added: “It would be a catastrophe for the country, and the authorities doing so would have violated the Jordanian constitution.”

The “UAE94” case began in March 2012 with a wave of arbitrary arrests amid an unprecedented crackdown on dissent. Abu Dhabi’s federal Supreme Court indicted al-Romaythi and 68 others for allegedly violating Article 180 of the penal code, which seeks to overthrow the country’s political system, according to court documents seen by Human Rights Watch. Prohibits the establishment, organization or operation of an association for the purpose of , The court sentenced 5 defendants to 7 years in prison, 56 to 10 years, and 8 to 15 years in absentia. The other 25 were acquitted.

Human Rights Watch stated that it is almost certain that al-Romaythi will be immediately detained by Emirati authorities, and may be tortured and ill-treated based on charges related to his peaceful criticism and political affiliation. or they may be subjected to unfair trial.

Several of the defendants in this case were arrested simply because they were affiliated with the Reform and Social Guidance Association (Al-Islah), a non-violent political group that advocated greater adherence to Islamic precepts and peaceful political life in the United Arab Emirates. was involved in the debate. For years

The verdict could not be appealed, in violation of international law, as it was issued by the Supreme Court of the United Arab Emirates. The trial was marred by violations of fair trial standards, including denial of legal aid during pretrial incommunicado detention, and allegations of torture. Emirati authorities continue to incarcerate at least 51 Emirati prisoners who completed their sentences anywhere from a month to nearly four years ago, using baseless counter-terrorism justifications.

“Khalaf Al-Roumathy faces the same terrible fate as the other UAE94 co-defendants, unjustly languishing in Emirati prisons for more than a decade,” Shia said. “The Jordanian government must stand up for the UAE and uphold the values ​​of its own constitution.”

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