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Prisons in UAE

There is a good margin for personal freedoms in the Emirates, particularly after the increase in the number of arrivals of more than 200 Arab and foreign nationals in all their religious, cultural and political diversity, taking into account the general environment of the State, so that any resident is allowed to exercise his or her religious rites freely, except for the exercise of political rights which are the exclusive right of the Emirati. With the beginning of the Arab Spring, during recent years, UAE’s plans have changed, and political freedoms have been further curtailed, especially when any Emirati citizen criticizes the state.

Activists have been suppressed and even prosecuted and jailed for tweeting on social media, especially after the law on cyber crimes, which criminalizes those who criticize the regime and rulers.

The United Arab Emirates has ratified four of the nine core human rights conventions of the United Nations, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1974) and convention against torture 1912.

The Emirates used to issue a decree to pardon convicted prisoners in national or religious occasions. However prisoners of conscience are not covered by this decree and are hold long past of their sentences. Dozens of activists and prisoners of conscience, including women’s activistsare in prison despite having completed their sentences and the actual date of their release has passed. The UAE authorities refuse to release them, claiming that they pose a threat to national security and are in need of rehabilitation and therefore have been transferred to the counseling section of the prison. This is not only inconsistent with international human rights law, but also contradicts the UAE Penal Code itself, which requires the authorities to release convicts upon the expiration of their sentences. The terrorism law cannot be applied to them because it is well known to all that they are not terrorists but peaceful prisoners of conscience.

According to several released prisoners the prisons are segmented based on where you are from. Filipinos and other East Asians are put together, while Indian subcontinents are placed together, and Arabs are together. Your passport means a lot for how you are treated. 

UAE residents who have spoken about human rights issues are at serious risk of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture. After Arab spring 2011, the UAE launched a crackdown on Islamists it accused of being part of the Islamist group al-Islah, which the authorities say has links to the Muslim Brotherhood that plotted to the overthrow the government. On July 2013, a group of 94 lawyers, university lecturers and students were retained. The 94 defendants were accused of trying to seize power in the Emirates. A majority of those convicted were given jail sentences between seven and 10 years for plotting to overthrow over the government reports said.

 Mansoor is one of the 94 case went on hunger strike twice in 2019 to protest his conditions, including reportedly being held in a cell measuring four square meters with no mattress, and limited access to sunlight, a shower or portable water. Also Bin Ghaith went on hunger strike in 2017 and 2018 to protest against being denied access to medication, as well as physical assault by prison authorities and periods in solitary confinement. The list of detention violation is lengthy Maryam Al-Balushi, a young Emirati woman, who after years of suffering degrading treatment and solitary confinement was left with no choice but to attempt suicide in an isolation cell in Al-Wathba prison.

As per international human rights reports, Prisons across the UAE hold detainees in dismal and unhygienic conditions, where overcrowding and lack of adequate medical care are widespread. The UAE continues to block representatives of international human rights organizations and UN experts from conducting in-country research and visiting prisons and detention facilities.

Human rights organizations continue to receive distress messages from political detainees in the prisons and their relatives, which periodically highlight systematic violations and incidents of torture and ill-treatment by the UAE authorities against detainees. With the spread of the Corona virus in the region, fears have grown that the epidemic will reach UAE prisons. On 2020 HRW reported that that prisoners, including some with chronic health conditions, have been denied adequate medical care, that overcrowding and unsanitary conditions make social distancing and recommended hygiene practices very difficult, and that authorities are not providing information to prisoners and their families about the apparent outbreaks or precautionary measures.

The security system of the authority Acts without any control using brutal policy, from the forced concealment of detainees to the extraction of the confessions required of the accused under torture by various ways.

Accusing the United Arab Emirates of running dozens of secret prisons in Yemen, a human rights group called on the Gulf country to close all such facilities. The Geneva-based SAM for Rights and Liberties said Emirati forces intentionally hold in these prisons “thousands of Yemenis, including political opponents, opinion-makers, and even civilians, without any charge or presentation to judicial authorities.” Furthermore, sexual violence is utilized as the primary tool for imposing penalties on prisoners and for extracting confessions.

It called on the UN Security Council to work to close such prisons, and ensure that the violators are brought to justice.

The UAE’s dreadful tactics against activists are increasing without any control in with intentional obliteration and concealment of facts, the most egregious of which is the UAE’s geographical location to reach Yemen through its secret prisons, which are spread in contravention of international laws.

This is an explicit call on all international actors to investigate what is happening in the secret prisons in Yemen and to hold the Emirates accountable and to deter it from using these horrific methods and to release all activists and opinion detainees and the amendment of repressive laws concerning opinion and expression.

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