A New Report Shows Patterns of Torture in the UAE
2022 marks the tenth anniversary of the arrest and detention of the UAE94, a group of human rights defenders (HRDs), lawyers, judges, teachers, academics and students who peacefully advocated for political reform. Their enforced disappearance, torture and wrongful conviction for “plotting a coup against the government” in a trial marred by egregious violations of due process was a watershed moment for human rights and civic freedoms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
It sent the country down an increasingly oppressive path that meant that, until his arrest in 2017, Ahmed Mansoor, was “last human rights defender openly working in the UAE.”
A new report by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) examines recent examples of the UAE authorities’ reliance on torture in consolidating this oppressive climate. The key patterns of torture that emerge are: the use of arbitrary arrest, detention and enforced disappearances to perpetrate torture with impunity; the punishment and further torture of those who dare to speak out about their conditions of detention and; the complicity of companies and the international community in the systematic perpetration of torture in the UAE.
However, the continuing perpetration of torture with impunity in the UAE is not just a domestic issue. It relies on and is sustained and validated by the international community’s willingness to turn a blind eye.
This complicity was most recently evidenced by the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to the UAE in December 2021 when he met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and signed a multibillion-euro deal for the sale of fighter planes and combat helicopters to the UAE. Furthermore, in November 2021, Major General Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi was elected as President of the International Criminal Police Organisation (INTERPOL) despite the tireless efforts of human rights organisations to alert members of the General Assembly to Al-Raisi’s key role in the torture and degrading treatment of detained human rights defenders and other prisoners of conscience.
The report is dedicated to the memory of the irreplaceable and courageous human rights defenders, Alaa Al-Siddiq and Artur Ligęska, who tragically passed away in 2021. Although gone before their time, their many colleagues and friends continue their legacy defending and promoting human rights in the UAE.