The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has denied accusations that it is operating secret prisons and torturing detainees in Yemen, Gulf News reported yesterday.
"Yemeni authorities are in complete control of local and federal governance, judicial and prison systems. The UAE has never managed or run prisons or secret detention centres in Yemen," the UAE Mission in Geneva said in a public tweet.
"We have helped the Yemeni Government to facilitate visits by the International Committee of the Red Cross to uphold and protect international humanitarian law."
Early this week, the Associated Press revealed that UAE personnel were directly involved in sexually torturing Yemenis across 18 different prisons. Metal and wooden pipes were used for anal cavity checks, while other detainees suffering from sexual abuse including rocks hung from testicles. Many eyewitnesses told the Associated Press that the detainees were naked, electrocuted and left on the floor with snarling dogs.
— Iona Craig أيونا كريچ (@ionacraig) June 21, 2018
The UAE entered Yemen in March 2015 as part of the Saudi-led coalition to neutralise threats posed by the Iranian-aligned Houthi group. The UAE's foreign policy is prominently focused in southern Yemen, where it supported the political set up of the Southern Transitional Council (STC). It is now leading a battle to retake the strategic Hudaydah port from the Houthis.
Hundreds in underground prisons
Previously, the Associated Press reported that hundreds of Yemeni men were rounded up in the hunt for Al-Qaeda members by UAE forces and forced into a network of prisons across Yemen.
Yemeni mothers regularly protest outside the Yemeni Judicial Council demanding the release of their family members. Protesters hold the Saudi-led coalition and the United Arab Emirates responsible for operating secret prisons in which their relatives are being held. They went on to demand the detainees be charged or released.
Human Rights Watch last year accused the UAE of running private torture chambers across Yemen, and documented 49 cases including those involving children who have been arbitrarily detained or forcibly disappeared in Aden or Hadramaut.