UN expert calls for probe of ‘torture’ in UAE prisons

Top UAE security court last month jailed a group of 30 Emiratis and Egyptians accused of forming a Muslim Brotherhood cell.

ABU DHABI: A UN expert on Wednesday urged an independent probe into allegations of torture in United Arab Emirates prisons, which she was not allowed to visit during a fact-finding mission.

Gabriela Knaul, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, also criticised “violations” and a “lack of transparency” in court proceedings in the emirate, where dozens of people have been rounded up.

In her preliminary report on a nine-day visit, Knaul urged the UAE to “establish an independent committee to investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment in detention.”

The UN Special Rapporteur told a press conference she had received “credible information and evidence” that detainees are arrested without warrant, blindfolded, taken to unknown places and held incommunicado, sometimes for months.

The official added that she also had evidence of detainees being “tortured and, or subjected to ill-treatment” including by being put in “electric chairs.”

Knaul said she was not allowed to visit prisons or meet with certain detainees, adding that “on one occasion, I was followed.”

The UAE has not seen any of the widespread protests that have swept other Arab states since 2011. However, authorities have cracked down hard on dissent and calls for democratic reform, drawing criticism from international rights groups.

The top UAE security court last month jailed a group of 30 Emiratis and Egyptians accused of forming a Muslim Brotherhood cell for terms ranging from three months to five years.

The 10 UAE citizens in the group were among 69 nationals jailed in July for up to 15 years on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.[More]