Abu Dhabi: A review of the welfare status of British National Matthew Hedges has been carried out by Mohammad Obaid Al Za’abi, Director of the Department of the Foreign Nationals Affairs Department, of the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. It came after widespread media reporting and speculation,
The welfare review found that, since his arrest, Hedges has been provided with constant medical and psychological care. After his initial arrest and before the trial proceeding, Hedges’ family members and embassy staff were given access to him on several occasions, in accordance with UAE laws and regulations. After the completion of the investigation process and since the trial commenced, as per UAE law, the conditions of Hedges’ remand have been reduced: he has the ongoing facility to contact family, embassy and consular staff and his legal counsel by phone.
Hedges has also been provided with books and reading material of his choice, and his lawyer and his immediate family can reach him, in keeping with the protocols of the trial process. Since the trial started, Hedges has been accommodated in a lower security remand centre.
It is important to note that the right to a fair trial is guaranteed by Article 94 of the UAE Constitution. The Constitution also provides that an accused person shall be presumed innocent until proven otherwise in a legal and fair trial. Articles 1 to 8 of Law No. 3 of 26 May 1993 guarantee the independence of judges.
The treatment of Hedges is entirely in keeping with the UAE law and international norms, and his welfare has been appropriately supported and maintained throughout the process.