Annual Report: United Arab Emirates 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: United Arab Emirates 2010

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Torture and other ill-treatment

  • Naji Hamdan (see above) said in court that he had been tortured in pre-trial detention by being strapped into "an electric chair" and beaten about the head until he lost consciousness. Neither the court nor the responsible authorities appeared to take any steps to investigate his allegations.
  • In May, the authorities arrested Shaikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family, after the broadcasting abroad of footage taken in 2004 in which he appeared to be torturing a man with an electric cattle prod. The authorities said they had previously investigated the incident and had taken no action because the matter had been settled privately between the perpetrator and the victim. The Shaikh was charged together with six others, including some in their absence; their trial was continuing at the end of 2009.

Discrimination - women and migrant workers

Women continued to suffer discrimination in law and practice. Foreign migrant workers, who make up a large proportion of the UAE's workforce and many of whom are employed in construction, faced exploitation, abuse and poor living conditions. Media reports suggested that some women survivors of rape did not report the crime to the police for fear that they would be charged with engaging in illicit sex.

  • Marnie Pearce, a UK national, was released in April after she had served 68 days of a three-month sentence imposed for adultery, which is prohibited in the UAE even when carried out in private between consenting adults. Adultery is punishable by death although lesser punishments can be imposed. The law covering adultery and its application have had a discriminatory impact on women.

Death penalty

Thirteen men were sentenced to death by courts in Dubai and Sharjah; no executions were known to have been carried out.

  • In June, the Supreme Court set aside the death sentence imposed on Shahid Bolsen because he had not had access to a lawyer at his trial.