Earlier this month, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul published the findings of her 9 day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Ms Knaul concluded that the UAE judiciary is under the ‘de facto’ control of the government, that lawyers are working without detailed understanding of a critical state security law that was enacted but never published, that lawyers are threatened, harassed, pressured and placed under surveillance by the UAE authorities. and that evidence against defendants is “sometimes manipulated and fabricated by the police or other security agencies and the prosecution.” Ms Knaul also stated that there is “credible information and evidence” that detainees are arrested without warrant, blindfolded, taken to unknown places, held incommunicado, sometimes for months, and tortured..

Among the cases that were brought to Ms Knaul’s attention were the convictions last year of a number of lawyers on charges of “plotting to overthrow the state” after an unfair trial marred by irregularities. Those convicted to lengthy sentences included former judges Ahmed al-Zaabi and Mohammed Saeed al-Abdouli, prominent human rights lawyers Dr Mohammed al-Mansoori and Dr Mohammed al-Roken, and their lawyer Salem al-Shehhi who was arrested at the offices of the State Security Prosecutor where he sought information about his clients. All were arbitrarily detained for months and complained of being tortured in detention including through prolonged solitary confinement, physical beating, and sleep deprivation.

Ms Knaul was also prevented from visiting Qatari physician Mahmoud al-Jaidah in prison despite expressing grave concerns about torture and due process in his case. Dr al-Jaidah was arbitrarily detained for 9 months in a secret prison in Abu Dhabi before he was charged. The verdict in his case will be announced on 3 March although until now, no less than three lawyers have ceased to represent him within days of being instructed and no lawyer has been permitted to visit him.

We stand in solidarity with the lawyers in the UAE and call upon the authorities to unconditionally release them and quash their convictions. The UAE must understand that its persecution of members of the legal profession and its manipulation of the judiciary has damaged its reputation more than the words and actions of any single dissident.


Nicholas Fluck, President of the Law Society of England and Wales

Nicholas Lavender QC, Chair, Bar Council

Professor Sara Chandler, Chair, Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of England and Wales

Kirsty Brimelow QC, Chair, Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC (Hon)

Hugh Southey QC, Matrix Chambers

Joel Bennathen QC, Doughty Street Chambers

Edward Fitzgerald QC, Doughty Street Chambers

Francis FitzGibbon QC, Doughty Street Chambers

Adam Wagner, 1 Crown Office Row Chambers

David Chirico, Barrister, 1 Pump Court Chambers

Ben Cooper, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Laura Dubinsky, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Caoilfhionn Gallagher, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Nichola Higgins, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

David Lemer, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Maryam Mir, Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers

Professor William Bowring, Barrister, Field Court Chambers

Jennifer Blair, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Bethan Harris, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Richard Harvey, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Sean Horstead, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Di Middleton, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Jo Wilding, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Adam Pipe, Barrister, No 8 Chambers

Mark Jones, Barrister, St Ives Chambers

Alison Stanley, Solicitor, Bindmans LLP

Matt Foot, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Omar Geloo, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Nigel Leskin, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Alastair Lyon, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Sajida Malik, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Sonia Routledge, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce & Partners

Stephen Medley, Solicitor, Broudie Jackson Canter

Jamie Beagent, Solicitor, Leigh Day

Kate Egerton, Solicitor, Leigh Day

Mandeep Duhra, Solicitor, TRP Solicitors Ltd

Fahad Ansari, Solicitor

Syed Rashidul Islam, Solicitor

Shoaib M Khan, Solicitor

Naqeeb Sadiq, Solicitor