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75% of UAE Prisoners Report Police Torture

UNITED KINGDOM - 75% of prisoners in Dubai central jail allege being tortured by police, a new report released today by the human rights charity Reprieve has revealed. The release comes just days before the country will find out whether its bid to host the 2020 World Expo has been successful.

The report, ‘Systematic Torture: Statistics from Dubai Central Jail’, compiled by a number of prisoners and analysed by lawyers at Reprieve, reveals that 75% of prisoners report some sort of torture or abuse by police upon arrest. Prisoners have also detailed the type of torture to which they were subjected with an alarming number including threats of a sexual nature. One prisoner reported that “They kept saying if you don’t co-operate, we will all [expletive] you one by one.”

Other techniques allegedly used by police include electrocution, severe beatings, and death threats. One prisoner said: “I was beaten so badly I could not kneel to pray for 15 days” while another alleges that “Police said this is their country so they can kill me and throw my body in desert as I am foreign.” Many prisoners featured in the report say that they were tortured in order to extract confessions, for example one prisoner who said that “the CID police pointed his gun at me and said he would shoot me if I don’t tell I sell drugs”.


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Such reports of police torture are common in Dubai. One example is that of Grant Cameron, Suneet Jeerh and Karl Williams, three British tourists who were subjected to beatings and electric shocks, before being forced to sign documents in Arabic – a language they do not understand – while on holiday in Dubai last year. The men were subsequently pardoned and released, but, despite pressure from the UK Prime Minister to do so, the UAE has failed to carry out an independent investigation into their mistreatment.

Dubai’s bid to host the 2020 World Expo - which has its origins in London’s Great Exhibition of 1851 – has received backing from a number of high-profile supporters, including Bill Gates and former US President Jimmy Carter. Human rights charity Reprieve has written to many of these supporters urging them to reconsider their backing unless the UAE takes action on police torture. The decision on who will host the World Expo is expected on the 27th November.

Catherine Higham, a caseworker at Reprieve, said: “These allegations of torture by Dubai’s police are too numerous and too serious to be ignored. UAE authorities must take seriously these reports and investigate them thoroughly if the country’s reputation as a major tourist and business reputation is to be maintained.”


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Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

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