Emirati dissident disappears in Jordan, risking forcible return to the UAE

Emirati dissident disappears in Jordan, risking forcible return to the UAE

Khalaf al-Romaithi is an Emirati dissident and member of the “UAE94”, who was living in Turkey. He was detained while travelling to Jordan based on a request by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He was last seen by his lawyer on May 9, 2023, before the Governor of Amman ordered his deportation on May 10, 2023, outside of any judicial process. His fate and whereabouts remain unknown since.

Khalaf Abdul Rahman Abdulla Humaid al-Romaithi is a member of the “UAE 94”, a group of 94 Emirati scholars, activists, lawyers, doctors, and human rights defenders who were tried in 2013 after signing a petition that asked for democratic reforms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

On July 2, 2013, he was convicted in absentia to 15 years in prison based on vague national security-related charges by the Federal Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi, following a grossly unfair trial. In 2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued Opinion No. 60/2013, in which it found that the detention of the 61 individuals convicted in the UAE94 trial was arbitrary.

On May 7, 2023, based on a request by the UAE, he was arrested in Amman airport, Jordan, while he was travelling for a short visit. He was informed that there was an arrest warrant issued by the Arab and International Police Department / Interpol of the Public Security Directorate at the request of the UAE. The same day, he was brought before a judge, a hearing was set for May 21, 2023, and he was released on bail.

However, the following day, on May 8, 2023, at 5pm, he was arrested in a coffee shop in Amman by four members believed to be from the General Intelligence Directorate who were wearing civilian clothes. They told al-Romaithi that the release decision had been cancelled and that the hearing date had been brought forward to May 16, 2023.

On May 9, 2023, al-Romaithi was able to meet with his lawyer during his court session. The lawyer was surprised that the Public Prosecutor had obtained approval from the judge to cancel the bail, and thus the release decision, hours before his second arrest. According to his lawyer, the authorities claimed that the address given for payment of the deposit was different from his actual address where he stayed in Jordan. On the same day, another session took place and he was transferred to Marka prison immediately after. He was supposed to be detained there until his next session on May 16, 2023.

However, on May 10, 2023, his lawyer discovered that a decision to release al-Romaithi was issued, without any notification. When his lawyer tried to meet with him in Marka prison, the prison’s administration asked him to report to the Arab and International Police Department / Interpol. However, this department refused to give him any information about his whereabouts. The same day, the lawyer was informed by the same judge who issued the release decision that the Public Prosecutor decided to refer al-Romaithi to the governor of Amman, who decided to deport him outside of the country. He did not specify where he was deported, and whether it was to Turkey or the UAE.

On May 12, 2023, al-Romaithi’s family was informed informally by a Turkish official that he had been extradited to the UAE.

Al-Romaithi remains forcibly disappeared since May 9, 2023, when his lawyer last saw him.

On May 12, 2023, Jordanian authorities extradited al-Romaithi to the UAE despite the Amman court's rejection of the UAE's extradition request. Emirati state media claimed al-Romaithi is a 'terrorist' charged with the creation and establishment of a secret organization affiliated with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.

On May 15, 2023, MENA Rights Group submitted an urgent appeal to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, urging them to intervene with Jordanian and Emirati authorities to clarify al-Romaithi’s fate and whereabouts.


May 15, 2023: MENA Rights Group submits an urgent appeal to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.
May 12, 2023: Jordanian authorities extradite al-Romaithi to the UAE.
May 10, 2023: A release decision is issued by the judge; however, the Public Prosecutor decides to refer al-Romaithi to the governor of Amman, who orders his deportation.
May 9, 2023: A court hearing is held, and al-Romaithi is transferred to Marka prison. This is the last time his lawyer sees him.
May 8, 2023: Al-Romaithi is rearrested by intelligence forces at a coffee shop in Amman.
May 7, 2023: Al-Romaithi travels to Jordan and is arrested upon arrival upon the request of the UAE. He is released on bail hours later.
July 2, 2013: Al-Romaithi is sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison in the “UAE94” trial.