The United Nations on Tuesday called on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to investigate torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in the country’s prisons.
Nils Melzer, special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and Dainius Puras, special rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, sent a letter to Emirati authorities in which they said: “The UAE has the responsibility to protect the rights of individuals deprived of their liberty, by ensuring that conditions of detention respect their dignity and mental integrity.”
The experts’ call came after reports emerged that Emirati citizen Maryam Suliman Al-Balushi has attempted suicide due to the humiliating detention conditions in the Al-Wathba prison in Abu Dhabi where she is being held.
In their letter, the experts expressed their deep concern following the alleged “torture and ill-treatment of Ms. Al-Balushi, Ms. Amina Ahmed Saeed Al-Alabdouli and Ms. Alia Abdulnour which led to the deterioration of their health due to the detention conditions and lack of appropriate medical treatment.”
The UN rapporteurs revealed that Al-Balushi had been subjected to “reprisals following the official communication we sent to the UAE authorities requesting information about the current physical and mental health status of the three women, and inquiring why she had not been released on health grounds, based on the critical nature of her medical condition.”
“While in detention, Ms. Al-Balushi has been subject to inhuman conditions including having surveillance cameras inside her bathroom and being held in solitary confinement on multiple occasions for extended periods, most recently since mid-February.”
The experts pointed out that the United Nations Committee against Torture and the United Nations Human Rights Committee had concluded that conditions of detention could amount to inhuman and degrading treatment.
This article was updated on 28 October 2022 at 09.30am GMT to replace the picture of Al-Balushi which had been used in error.