United Arab Emirates: UAE: GCHR report documents failure to investigate abuse and torture in Emirati prisons



12 March 2015 – A government inquiry into the torture and abuse of political prisoners in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is long overdue, says a new report by the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) which documents the torture and abuse of prisoners belonging to the UAE 94, 61 of whom remain in jail since being sentenced in July 2013. The group includes prominent human rights lawyers, judges, intellectuals, bloggers and political activists.

The report, “Torture and Abuse in Prisons in the United Arab Emirates”, details the testimony and evidence gathered from 57 prisoners, including 50 still in jail. “The UAE must be held accountable for human rights violations against human rights defenders (HRDs) and activists in prison. This report voices loudly the stories of the detained HRDs from inside the prison bars, telling the story of torture, restrictions, and injustice,” says Khalid Ibrahim, GCHR Director of Programmes.

The report will be launched on 12 March at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, where GCHR and partners are holding a side event entitled: “Ongoing attacks on HRDs in the Gulf and Neighbouring Countries, focus on Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iraq”.

This new report, which was prepared by a team of lawyers, details the torture and abuse inside Emirati prisons suffered by the UAE 94 prisoners, who were arrested between March 2012 and March 2013, right before their trial started on 4 March 2013. GCHR and its partners have described the trial as “deeply flawed”. At the conclusion of the trial, seven of the prisoners documented in this report were released, and the rest were sentenced for establishing an organisation that allegedly aimed to overthrow the government, a charge which they all denied.

The 54-page report covers incidents that took place from the first arrests in March 2012 until 2014 in different jails (from secret detention centres to the prisons Al-Sader, Al-Wathba and Al-Razeen.) It describes in details different treatment depending on where the prisoners were detained (solitary confinement or in groups), and what level of rights were given by the state authorities. The documentations include a complaint (referenced as Document 13) against the UAE Federal State Security for falsifying official documents and failing to investigate crimes of torture and depriving detainees from their legal rights granted to them by UAE law.

The findings of the report firstly detailed a wide range of human rights violations that took different forms of inhumane practices such as the use of torture by the authorities to obtain confessions, causing not only physical harm but also severe mental pain and suffering. Secondly it identified the cruel and degrading treatment to which the detainees were subjected, such as, inhumane prison conditions, sexual harassment, lack of adequate medical care, being deprived of an adequate legal defense, using media to publicly attack character and reputation, and lack of reasonable contact with their families. A list of the perpetrators was included in the report based on the detainees’ statements. Finally it concluded with a list of recommendations to the UAE government, including calling for an investigation into the torture and to “order the immediate release of those imprisoned as a result of blatantly unfair trials, pending the outcome of any further inquiry.”

The full report is available HERE.