UAE hands down dozens of life sentences to dissidents in mass trial, activists say

A mass trial in the United Arab Emirates of dissidents that has faced widespread criticism abroad has ended with dozens of people sentenced to life in prison, activists say.

The UAE has not immediately acknowledged the sentences. However, they had been expected to be issued in court Wednesday, activists say.

Human Rights Watch says at least 40 of the over 80 defendants received life sentences. Four others received shorter prison terms. It does not know the sentences of all of the prisoners.

“These over-the-top long sentences make a mockery of justice and are another nail in the coffin for the UAE’s nascent civil society,” says Joey Shea, a researcher focusing on the UAE for Human Rights Watch. “The UAE has dragged scores of its most dedicated human rights defenders and civil society members through a shamelessly unfair trial riddled with due process violations and torture allegations.”

The Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center, a group run by an Emirati who lives in exile in Istanbul, says sentences had been handed down. Amnesty International also criticizes the sentences.

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