UAE leader 'ordered torture' of woman detainee: rights groups

UAE leader 'ordered torture' of woman detainee, claim rights groups
3 min read
13 November, 2018
Alleged recordings from inside Abu Dhabi's al-Wathba prison detail rampant torture and abuse against female inmates, purportedly at the behest of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
A batch of leaked letters and recordings allegedly from al-Wathba prison has been released [Getty]
A UK-based human rights group is calling for action over the alleged torture and mistreatment of political prisoners in the UAE, after a recording smuggled out of Abu Dhabi's al-Wathba prison alleges rampant torture and abuse of female inmates and other gross violations of human rights.

The violence was allegedly been sanctioned by the UAE's effective ruler, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, according to the Emirati activist group.

A batch of letters and recordings were smuggled out of the prison in May, say the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE), and have led to a spate of allegations over appalling conditions in the facility.

The latest recording to be released is purportedly that of of 21-year-old detainee Maryam al-Balushi, who says she has suffered years of physical and psychological abuse at the hands of the Emirati security forces in prison since her arrest in 2015.

In the recording, she says she was detained without an arrest warrant and interrogated in a secret detention facility for three months, where she was violently coerced into signing a confession.

During her detention, Balushi claims she has been beaten, threatened with rape and denied medical treatment.

At one point she told her investigator that once she was released, she would file a complaint with Mohammed bin Zayed, only to be told that the Abu Dhabi crown prince himself had ordered her torture.

According to ICFUAE, Balushi's case finally came to trial in 2017, however, the prosecution rejected any investigation into her allegations of torture. She says neither her lawyer nor her family were told the dates of her trial so could not attend.

The 21-year-old was charged with financing terrorism after donating money to a Syrian family which she insists was done in good faith, according to ICFUAE. She denies all charges against her but was sentenced to five years in prison, and her appeal case was overruled.

In the recording, Balushi says the abuse and torture of inmates in al-Wathba is commonplace, with guards beating the female prisoners, many of whom have attempted suicide.

In a statement released on Tuesday, ICFUAE  called upon the UAE authorities to conduct thorough and independent investigation into Maryam al-Balushi's allegations of torture.

"All those found to have mistreated her during this period must be held to account," the statement said.

"Furthermore, international pressure needs to be exerted on the UAE authorities to adhere to the UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which affords basic rights for inmates such as access to adequate medical care, food and other amenities. The UAE authorities must immediately allow UN working bodies access to al-Wathba prison to inspect conditions."

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab