A Dubai court sentenced Briton Asa Hutchinson in absentia for being a witness to an alleged assault. Her testimony was dismissed, and she unable to defend herself in court. The UAE frequently commits such violations of basic due process.
Asa's case was highlighted to press and UK government earlier this year with support from Detained in Dubai and Priti Patel, MP: Priti Patel, MP responds to requests for support from 21 yr old Asa Hutchinson, trapped in Dubai.
British national Asa Hutchinson was convicted in absentia by a court in Dubai over an incident to which she was merely a witness. It has been reported in the UAE that Asa has been jailed for an alleged assault on a Swedish businessman by a group of people in a restaurant in Al Fattan Currency House in DIFC. Asa testified to prosecutors that she had simply witnessed the scuffle, and voluntarily went to the police station to help clarify what occurred.
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“Asa, in fact, managed to leave the UAE, and is currently in the UK,” said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai. “All of the alleged assailants in this incident were released, but because Asa was living in Dubai, and the Swedish man misidentified her as a participant in the row, she was wrongly charged with the assault. Asa has been sentenced in absentia, despite there being no evidence to corroborate the questionable testimony of the alleged victim. We are glad that Asa is safe in the UK, but this judgment demonstrates how easily convictions occur in the UAE in the absence of any acceptable standards of due process.”
It has become an increasingly common occurrence for foreigners to be convicted in absentia in the UAE, particularly when the evidence against them is weak or non-existent; as they are denied the opportunity to defend themselves.
Stirling continues, “There is a culture in the Public Prosecutor’s office of securing convictions by any means necessary. We frequently see forced and false confessions, and the complete dismissal of testimony and evidence for the defence. Asa’s case is yet another example of this. While she is certainly better off being in the UK; Asa is innocent of the allegations her and should never have been forced to leave the UAE, where she was building a life for herself. A conviction in absentia can often lead to an extradition request by the Emirates, and an Interpol Red Notice; so even though Asa is fortunate to not be in jail right now, she is still likely to suffer the consequences of the UAE’s deeply flawed and biased legal system.
“We have been in touch with Asa’s family, and while they are glad that she is home, the whole situation has been immensely taxing, emotionally and financially, for everyone.”