Human Rights Watch(HRW), an advocacy group have asked the government of United Arabs Emirate(UAE) to investigate human rights abuses allegations leveled against government officials in the country. According to HRW, “There are credible allegations that state security officers have tortured detainees, and the state should prosecute anyone responsible”.
The detainees according to HRW include American, Canadian, and Libyan citizens.
HRW spoke separately with three former detainees and a family member of two current detainees, who were among those linked to a group of ten Libyan businessmen detained in the UAE in August and September 2014. The men said their interrogators asked them about their supposed links to the Muslim Brotherhood – which the UAE has designated a terrorist organization – and described a range of abuses, including beatings, forced standing, and threats to rape, kill, and electrocute. “Their descriptions are consistent with previous allegations of toture at UAE state security facilities”, the report said.
Six of the 10 men remain in incommunicado detention, including two Libyan-American citizens, Kamal and Mohamed Eldarat, and a Libyan-Canadian citizen, Salim Elaradi. None have received legal assistance, and it is not clear if they have been formally charged with any offence.
“There is strong evidence that the UAE maintains a facility outside Abu Dhabi city where security forces torture detainees while keeping their location secret,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director of HRW, adding that “any confessions or so-called intelligence that comes out of that facility should be considered inadmissible and unreliable.”
The three former detainees told HRW that state security officers blindfolded, handcuffed, and shackled them to the floor or ceiling of a customized black GMC 4×4 vehicle, the seats of which had been removed to apparently transport shackled detainees, and drove them to a detention center staffed by Nepalese guards and Emirati interrogators. They believed the facility to be close to Abu Dhabi city and said they could hear aircraft taking off and landing.
Two detainees said they were badly beaten during interrogations over more than two weeks. All three said they were blindfolded during their interrogation sessions. Detainees said their interrogators strapped them into what they were told was an electric chair, and threatened them with electrocution. One man said interrogators suspended him by his wrists and ankles from an iron bar and beat him. All three said interrogators threatened them with rape.
One of the former detainees says interrogators asked him to sign a statement that grossly misrepresented what he said during interrogation, and also falsely implicated a third-party in wrong-doing.
Mohamed Elaradi, the only one of the three willing to be identified, has a brother who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Justice and Construction political party in Libya. Relatives of Kamal and Mohamed Eldarat, two of the six Libyans still being held incommunicado, said that Kamal and Mohamed are not members. In November 2014, the UAE government designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
Family members of the Eldarats told HRW that authorities have prevented a lawyer they hired to represent their relatives from visiting the men or seeing their case files. It is not clear what charges, if any, the men are facing. The US embassy has told the family that their staff have been able to visit the men.
The UAE ratified the UN Convention Against Torture in July 2012, and is a State Party to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations which requires that consular officers “shall have the right to visit a national of the sending State who is in prison, custody or detention.”
“In view of repeated credible allegations of torture in the UAE and authorities’ refusal to allow any legal assistance to detainees, the US, Canadian, and Libyan governments should publicly call for the release of their citizens,” Stork said. “They should also demand full accountability for these disturbing allegations of torture and other crimes committed against them.”
In recent years, UAE has taken controversial actions in an attempt to battle terrorism. A lawyer in the UAE announced in August that the country had indicted 41 people for attempting to organize a terrorist organization. In July the UAE passed a religious tolerance law designed to specifically outlaw radical groups from enforcing their version of Islam on others. In June the country sent a message to extremists by sentencing Ala’a Badr Abdullah al-Hashemi to death for her militant-style killing of American teacher Iboyla Ryan. UAE carried out al-Hashemi’s execution last week. In March, the Arab League including UAE formed a joint military group to oppose forces that threaten its members including IS.