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Sun 23 Nov 2014 08:30 PM

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Top UAE official rejects Amnesty Int'l claims of jail torture

Abu Dhabi's Attorney-General strongly denies allegations made in recent report as 'untrue' and lacking credibility

Top UAE official rejects Amnesty Int'l claims of jail torture
Jail, Handcuff, Law

Abu Dhabi's Attorney-General on Sunday dismissed an Amnesty International report that claimed the UAE tortured activists in jail as "untrue".

Ali Mohammed Abdullah Al Balushi, in comments published by UAE news agency WAM, said the report entitled "UAE: Ruthless crackdown on dissent exposes ugly reality beneath facade of glitz and glamour" fell short of the minimum levels of credibility.

He said the report "failed to verify the information and facts it received from its sources publishing them as is without any corroborating evidence and with the aim of offending the UAE".

In his statement, Al Balushi rejected Amnesty International's claims of torture in prisons, saying that the UAE is party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The report, published last week by the human rights group, claimed scores of activists in the UAE have been harassed, arrested and in some cases tortured in custody.

“Beneath the façade of glitz and glamour, a far more sinister side to the UAE has emerged showing the UAE as a deeply repressive state where activists critical of the government can be tossed in jail merely for posting a tweet,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Programme.

The report claimed those targeted include lawyers, university professors, students and civil society activists.

But Al Balushi said in response that the Public Prosecution supervises and controls these punitive institutions, and also inspects, follows up and investigates each and every complaint filed by any inmate. 

It also assesses the conditions of the places of inmates to ensure that they are appropriate and clean, and inspects the quality of their food and checks their medical records to ensure that they received proper healthcare and that all humane standards are met.

The Attorney-General said: "The Public Prosecution is the authority that issues permits for visiting the inmates of the punitive institutions, and it does so in compliance with rules that are clearly defined by the law.

"There are no persons who are still in the UAE prisons after having been acquitted of charges or after having served their full terms."

According to the statistics of the Public Prosecution, 1,190 prisoners were visited in 2011, 1,330 in 2012 and 1,256 in 2013.

In his response to Amnesty International's report, Al Balushi stressed that "all the procedures of investigation and conclusion were implemented according to the law, and that all the trials were transparent and public and were conducted in the presence of the defendants themselves, their lawyers and families, representatives of UAE media organisations and civil society organisations".

Al Balushi added: "The facade of glitz and glamour of the UAE is a true reflection of an exceptional relationship between the rulers and their subjects in a state that has attained well-deserved excellence while losers committed themselves to generating lies based on illusions that are not supported by evidence or proofs."