‘Dozens of people have been sentenced to life in prison in a mass trial in UAE’

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

The UAE did not immediately acknowledge the sentences and government officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, sentences had been expected to be issued in court on Wednesday in a case that drew attention and protests at the United Nations COP28 climate talks in Dubai in November, activists said.

Human Rights Watch said at least 40 of the over 80 defendants received life sentences. Four others received shorter prison terms. It did 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,” said 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.”

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