NGOs call on UAE to adopt UN anti-torture recommendations


More than a dozen human rights organizations have called on the UAE to adopt recommendations made by a UN committee against torture. The Gulf state is accused of failing to join the UN Convention against Torture, which it ratified in 2012.

Survivors of torture at the hands of UAE security forces shared their experiences publicly at a recent press conference [Getty]

The UAE must adopt all recommendations of the UN Committee Against Torture to protect individuals from torture and ill-treatment in the Gulf state, an NGO group said in a joint statement released on Saturday.

MENA Rights Group, alongside a dozen other organizations including Democracy For The Arab World Now (DAWN), said the Emirati government has so far failed to sign on to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), which it ratified in 2012.

The joint statement accuses the UAE of “widespread” state-sanctioned abuses and stresses that the recommendations of the UN committee investigating the unimplemented provisions of the UNCAT must be enshrined in law and followed.

“To date, Emirati law does not criminalize torture in a manner fully consistent with the Convention,” reads the statement, sent by MENA Rights Group to The New Arab.

“The Emirati legal system does not provide sufficient safeguards to prevent the practice of torture against detainees and, in practice, even existing legal safeguards are not respected,” he said.

NGOs said Emirati law allowed some ambiguity about the use of torture.

They said “effective measures” were needed to ensure that all detainees can fully exercise their rights, such as access to legal representation and the ability to challenge the legality of their detention.

Their statement also challenged the current climate of impunity in the UAE, saying perpetrators of abuses must be prosecuted and punished in a timely manner, and that “rules governing the state security apparatus” must be enforced. transparent.

Hamad Al Shamsi is Executive Director of the Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center (EDAC).

“Everyone knows that the UAE’s objective in signing [the UN Convention against Torture] is only to polish its international image,” he said. The new Arabic.

Shamsi is part of UAE 94, a group of scholars, activists, scholars and human rights defenders on trial en masse after signing a petition calling for democratic reforms.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on vague security charges and later placed on the government’s terrorist list. He now lives in exile in Turkey.

“The lack of international attention has not only allowed the UAE to get away [not implementing the recommendations] but it also allowed him to be a member of the UN Human Rights Council, and an Emirati officer responsible for torture like Ahmed Naser Al Raisi [to become head of Interpol],” he said.

He said the ongoing violations “confirm that human rights are still just slogans for many countries, and interests are what dominate states’ actions.”

Ultimately, the UAE’s implementation of the UN convention is optional, he added, but pressure from the US, Canada and Western European countries is the best way to ensure that the UAE complies.

A report published in June, co-authored by MENA Rights Group and EDAC, concluded that “torture is widespread” in the UAE and “often goes unpunished”.

Dissenting voices are “silenced by [the UAE] legal framework” that suppresses any form of criticism of the government, and “torture is often used in criminal cases brought against peaceful dissidents”, according to the report.

These included incidents of prolonged solidarity confinement, denial of the right to appeal or access to counsel, beatings, ritual humiliations and forced confessions.

The biggest culprit is the state security apparatus, which detains people for months in secret facilities and where the use of torture is said to be prolific.

Matthew Hedges, who was conducting doctoral research in the United Arab Emirates when he was detained in 2018, was held in solitary confinement and questioned by state security agents for months, sometimes until 3 p.m. in a row.

At a press conference at the Geneva Press Club last month, Hedges spoke out against the “systemic nature” of abuses in the UAE.

“It’s not just something that happens randomly and it’s a mistake. No, it’s something that’s part of the DNA of this structure designed to maintain the concentration of power,” he said. -he declares.

Hedges spoke alongside Ali Issa Ahmad, a British and Sudanese national who was arrested while watching a football match in the United Arab Emirates. Ahmad said he was physically assaulted by security forces and was not allowed to eat, drink, sleep or contact his family while in detention.

The UAE rejects the testimonies of Hedges and Ahmad.


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