UN expert urges probe of torture in UAE prisons

UN expert urges probe of torture in UAE prisons
Wed Feb 5, 2014 22:56:47

A UN expert has called for an independent investigation into allegations of torture in the prisons of the Persian Gulf state of United Arab Emirates (UAE) after being refused visits to the detention centers during a fact-finding mission.

Gabriela Knaul, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers further criticized on Wednesday "violations" and a "lack of transparency" in court proceedings in the Arab kingdom, where dozens of Muslim activists have been rounded up.

Knaul called for independence for the UAE judiciary, which she said "remains under the de facto control of the executive branch of government."

The UAE foreign ministry welcomed her visit, pledging to "study the remarks and recommendations" she made.

But it complained that some of Knaul's comments "were based on information that had no known sources and was consistent with a politically motivated campaign by a group seeking to distort the UAE's reputation."

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."

She 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.

She said she also had evidence of detainees being "tortured and/or subjected to ill-treatment" including by being put in "electric chairs."

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

The top UAE security court last month jailed a group of 30 Emiratis and Egyptians convicted 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 separate charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

In her report, Knaul said supreme court rulings must be subject to appeal, criticizing "an apparent lack of transparency during both the investigation phase and court proceedings."

She spoke of claims that "evidence is sometimes manipulated and fabricated by the police or other security agencies and the prosecution."

The UAE, which is home to millions of expatriates, must also "redouble efforts to allow access to justice, in particular to vulnerable groups, such as migrant and domestic workers," she said.

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