The case of Salim al-Aradi, a dual Libyan-Canadian national who has been detained for a year without charge, highlights pervasive repression by the authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), said Amnesty international.
Salim al-Aradi has been in detention since August 29, 2014. He was held in secret detention for several months after he was first arrested and is believed to have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated in custody. His health is said to be deteriorating rapidly and he has been denied access to adequate medical care.
“The unlawful treatment of Salim al-Aradi demonstrates the extreme tactics the UAE authorities are resorting to in the name of protecting national security,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“Locking someone up for an entire year without charge is grossly unjust and a very serious violation of their rights. Salim al-Aradi should either be immediately charged with an internationally recognizable criminal offence or else released.”
Salim al-Aradi was arrested in the early hours of August 29. 2014 in Dubai. The police gave no reason for his arrest, but it is believed that the authorities suspect that he is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. His family told Amnesty International that he is not politically active and is not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He had been living in the UAE for a number of years.
Hours earlier, his brother Mohamed al-Aradi had been summoned by police for questioning. Mohamed al-Aradi was held in secret detention before being released nearly four months later and deported to Turkey without any explanation as to why he had been detained. The brothers were among at least 10 Libyans arrested within the space of a month in the UAE.
Mohamed al-Aradi also said that he had suffered torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings and sleep deprivation, in custody. He was denied access to his family and lawyers. He described his time in detention to Amnesty International:
“The torture was systematic. There were many different rooms and each room had a different interrogator. They worked in shifts so I was with each interrogator for two hours before being moved on to the next room and next interrogator.
“I was beaten all over. Every day they would focus on beating one area of my body…. They sat me on an electric chair and wanted to give me electric shocks. The only thing that stopped them was a metal rod that I have in my knee so the electric shocks would have killed me. Instead, they water-boarded me.
“The first question they asked me was ‘Are you a member of the Muslim Brotherhood?’ After long days of interrogations, beating, and sleep deprivation, I even started to question my own sanity.”
Once, while being questioned, he heard his brother Salim al-Aradi screaming from another room. “The interrogators said to me: ‘Do you hear that? That is your brother screaming’,” he told Amnesty International.
“When I asked for my rights I was told that I was in a place where rights do not exist.”
Salim al-Aradi has a pre-existing spinal condition, which causes chronic back pain that has been aggravated by his detention. He has been denied access to adequate medical care.
Salim al-Aradi’s wife has been was allowed to visit him only once since he was moved to al-Wathba Prison in Abu Dhabi. She has said that he had lost a lot of weight and had a burn mark on his hand, suggesting he may have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated.
Salim al-Aradi is among dozens of foreign nationals who are subjected to enforced disappearance for months and held without charge in the UAE.
“The UAE authorities have rounded up dozens of people on a whim, even when there appears to be no evidence of any wrongdoing. They have ripped up the rule book and are trampling all over the rights of these individuals,” said Said Boumedouha.
“The UAE authorities simply deny any wrongdoing. They have ignored calls from UN human rights experts to independently investigate torture allegations, and they continue to display utter contempt for due process and the rule of law where pro-reform activists and foreign nationals are involved.”
The international community routinely turns a blind eye to the UAE’s appalling human rights record, which rarely receives global media attention.
Salim al-Aradi is among 10 Libyan businessmen who were held in secret detention for several months. Four were released in December 2014 and deported to Turkey. The rest are still arbitrarily detained without charge. They include Kamal al-Darat, a dual Libyan-US national who is the eldest of the six detainees and is also suffering from severe health problems.