Emirates Leaks

Rights group calls for monitoring detainees’ conditions in the UAE prisons

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Skyline International expressed its deep concern about the continued deteriorating conditions of detainees inside Emirati prisons. It further blamed the international community for ignoring dozens of calls made by human rights organizations about the atrocity of violations committed by prison staff inside those prisons.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Skyline said that a former prisoner disclosed new details about the reality of the violations happening in Emirati prisons. The Brazilian prisoner who was a detainee in the UAE prisons, Calio Castro, spoke about the details of letters written by the human rights activist, Ahmed Mansour, 51, from his prison, in which the latter described the harsh conditions of his detention that he has been suffering from since his arrest in 2017 until now.

In a recently published press interview, the former Brazilian prisoner in the UAE prisons, Calio Castro, revealed the full story of his obtaining letters written by Emirati detainee and human rights activist Ahmed Mansour from inside his prison, in which Mansour described the harsh conditions of his detention.

Castro stated that he met Ahmed Mansour in the Abu Dhabi Central Prison, noting that Mansour “is living in a shocking, sad and painful situation and that he looks years older than his age.” He added, “I was put in cell number four, and Mansour was in cell number one. We were screaming from the ceiling to talk to each other. It was very difficult to communicate. I was hitting the door because I wanted to do my phone calls and call my family, but the prison staff would not allow me. The first contact I made was with Mansour.

Castro revealed that Mansour asked him to convey a handwritten letter abroad. He mentions the details of his arrest and the conditions of his imprisonment. He agreed to this after thinking because of the grave risk he may expose to if he was revealed before leaving the Emirates. Castro added that he hid the message with his shoes for four days before arriving in Brazil after completing his nine-month prison term.

Castro indicated that he realizes now, about ten months after his return to his country from Emirati prisons, that informing public opinion of the truth may be more beneficial to save Mansour and other forgotten prisoners in UAE prisons.

For its part, Skyline said that the Emirati authorities hold Ahmed Mansoor incommunicado for most of his arrest. They have deliberately isolated him from other prisoners and denied him access to a bed and mattress since his imprisonment in March 2017. They also prevent him from reading and any actual contact with the outside world, including regular visits or calls with his wife and four children, clearly violating prisoners’ rights guaranteed in multiple international conventions.

The Emirati authorities arrested Ahmed Mansour, 51, on March 15, 2017. In May 2018, the State Security Department of the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals sentenced “Mansoor” to ten years in prison. In May 2018, the State Security Department of the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeals sentenced “Mansoor” to ten years in prison on charges related entirely to his human rights activities. On December 31, 2018, the Federal Supreme Court upheld the sentence against him and annulled his last chance for early release. The government also refused requests to publish the indictment and court rulings.

Accordingly, the human rights foundation “Skyline” stressed that the UAE’s practices against the activist “Mansoor” and other detainees seriously violate the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which the UAE ratified in 2012. These provisions oblige the signatories to provide care and a decent life for prisoners inside prisons.

Skyline concluded its statement by calling on the international community and UN agencies, including the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights, the Working Group on the issue of arbitrary detention, and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, to play their legal and moral role, visit Emirati prisons and form a neutral committee to review the conditions of detainees inside those prisons, and communicate immediately with the UAE government and pressure it to release all political detainees.