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Oman citizen tests positive for COVID-19 in UAE jail

An inmate looks out of his prison cell in UAE [Abbtakk/Facebook]
An inmate looks out of his prison cell in UAE [Abbtakk/Facebook]

A detainee at Abu Dhabi’s Al-Wathba prison has tested positive for COVID-19, a source has confirmed.

According to a press release issued today by the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE), Abduallah Al-Shamsi, an Omani citizen, tested positive with the virus after showing symptoms.

The source stated that prison authorities denied Al-Shamsi medical treatment despite the diagnosis. His mother also confirmed on Twitter that he was recently transferred to solitary confinement and added that he has been denied family visits for over nine months.

Emirati prisons are notorious for their inadequate, or non-existent, medical care and overcrowded detention conditions with poor sanitation, offering inmates no chance of social distancing.

READ: India conman escapes UAE on repatriation flight

Al-Shamsi was attending high school in the UAE before being arrested in 2018 and subsequently held in secret detention where he was reportedly subjected to torture during interrogation. Since his arrest, he has not been able to meet with a lawyer, nor receive consular assistance.

Al-Shamsi was sentenced to 25 years in prison for alleged links to Qatari authorities, a charge which appears to be in connection with legislation issued in 2017, which declares it a crime to show “sympathy” to Qatar, punishable by imprisonment and a fine.

In its press release, ICFUAE said it called on the Emirati authorities to release all prisoners of conscience and conditionally release those who were in contact with Al-Shamsi.

They have also urged the authorities to provide improved detention conditions and access to medical care for all prisoners. The UAE currently has 34,557 reported cases of coronavirus and 264 deaths.

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