Human RightsMiddle East

Female victims come clean about ‘torture’ in UAE jails


A new report has revealed the extent of torture and violent instances of mistreatment practiced against women in UAE prisons.  

The New Khalij – an Arabic-language news website covering the human rights situation in the Persian Gulf’s littoral Arab countries – in an audio report published on Friday studied several cases in which of sufferings by female detainees in UAE prisons.

The audio report provided oral testimonies of the victims, themselves, who called on the United Nations and human rights organizations to investigate the situation.

They specifically mentioned the al-Wathba prison in Abu Dhabi as a venue that needed to be investigated.

One woman, who introduced herself as Maryam, said she was detained in 2015 and held in “secret detention” for five months in a row, noting that she had been faced with insult in addition to torture.

Elsewhere in the audio, the females described the situation in their prison cells as “inhumane,” complaining about “overcrowding, unsavory food, and absence of medical services.”

Some have fallen victim to life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

Maryam said one had contracted colon cancer, and was left without medical assistance for four months.

She blamed Emirati Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for issuing the decree enabling the inmates’ torture.

This is not the first time the Emirati royalty have been associated with torture.

Last June, the Brussels criminal court handed eight Emirati princesses — a mother and her seven daughters — suspended sentences of 15 months for human trafficking and degrading treatment of their servants. Sheikha Hamda al-Nahyan and her daughters were accused of abusing more than 20 female servants, whom they had brought along while staying at the luxury Conrad Hotel in the Belgian capital for several months back in 2007 and 2008.

In February 2016, a report by The Guardian said two Americans and a Canadian, all holding dual Libyan citizenship, and two other Libyan nationals had faced grave torture while in custody in the UAE.

UN experts noted back at the time that the men had been tried for “terrorism” based on a law enacted after their arrest, given limited access to lawyers, adding that the confessions signed during detention could have been the result of torture.

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