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11 nov 2018

 

 

Geneva, on November 12, 2018

Earlier this year, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights received en voice recording  from the detainee Maryam Sulaiman Al-Balushi, arrested in 2015 and detained since then at Al-Wathba prison in poor conditions. The detainee reported in the recording that she has been constantly exposed to torture and ill-treatment since her arrest.

In the recording, leaked from Al Wathba prison, the victim enumerated the violations she was subject to inside the detention center that have affected her physically and psychologically.

Maryam Al-Balushi also mentioned in the recording how she was brutally arrested by the State Security Services without a warrant, held in secret detention and interrogated for three months under torture until she was finally forced to sign written confessions.

Besides, she reported how a female torturer, named Om Hameed threatened her and laughed at her when she shared her intention to raise her case to the civil society organisations and to Mohammed Bin Zayed, claiming that Bin Zayed himself was supporting these practices.

Maryam Suleiman Al-Balushi also stated that she was prevented from walking for more than three months and denied weekly contact with her family. Against these arbitrary measures, Maryam decided to go on hunger strike. The victim stated that she was suffering from a disease at her right eye but was denied medical attention because the doctor allegedly was in collusion with the authorities and affirmed that no treatment was needed.

Furthermore, Maryam Suleiman Al-Balushi pointed out to the fact that the violations continued inside Al-Wathba prison and that she complained more than once against her conditions, which exposed her to reprisals measures.

Maryam complained to the public prosecution about the violations that she was subjected to. The public prosecution confirmed that her rights should be protected and that she was allowed to receive weekly family visits. However, but no measure was taken and the administration of Al-Wathba prison did not stop violating her right to contact her family.

She also stated that she was deprived of fair trial guarantees and denied any contact with her lawyer, Mr Al-Dhanhani, during the appeal procedure. The representative of the Public Prosecution interrogated her while she was sick and after a long period of sleep deprivation. She was brought to the office of the Public Prosecution at 9 am and did not leave until 5 pm after her trial was postponed. In fact, the first hearing was held in October 2016 while the second one took place in February 2017.

Moreover, the court did not pay attention to the lawyer’s statements claiming that no material evidence was added to Maryam’s case file to support the alleged charges against her. He also pointed out the fact that the confessions were extracted under torture, and asked for an investigation but the court refused to order a medical examination to confirm the torture allegations. Instead, the judge sentenced her to five years imprisonment in violation of the provisions of the Convention against Torture ratified by the UAE in July 2012.

In fact, Maryam Sulaiman Al-Balushi also confirmed in the recording that her right to a fair trial before the Federal Court of Appeal – headed by Judge Falah Al-Hajri – was continuously violated. She testified about the ill-treatment and beatings inflicted to other female inmates in Al-Wathba prison, the suicide risks among them and the arbitrary practice in relation to solitary confinement and other violations. However, he did not take her statements into consideration and claimed that she was making false accusions. He finally confirmed the verdict of five years without investigating any of the victim’s allegations.

Indeed, the State Security Service has arrested Maryam Sulaiman al-Balushi, who is a student in her final year at the University of Technology from the city of Kalba, on charges of  suspicion of financing terrorism after donating, in good faith, a financial sum of 2,300 dirhams to a Syrian familiy.

The State Security Service later transferred her to a secret detention facility where she was kept for five months and interrogated under torture by female Nepalese guards. She was beaten on the head, threatened with rape and denied essential hygienic care. The torture and ill-treatment affected her eyesight, caused her back pain, and made her go on hunger strike more than once, in protest against these violations.

Maryam Sulaiman Al Balushi tried through this recording to call upon international human rights organizations and bodies to intervene.

The ICJHR invite the UAE government to:

1. Immediately and unconditionally release, Maryam Sulaiman Al-Balushi.

2. Conduct a prompt and serious investigation by an independent body concerning the torture and ill-treatment of Maryam Sulaiman Al-Balushi as well as her exposure to enforced disappearance for months, and hold accountable all people involved in these violations and enable her from the right to reparation and rehabilitation.

3. Allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit the women's prison at Al Wathba prison in order to examine the status of female prisoners inside the jail and check Emirati authorities’ respect to international standards on the treatment of detainees.

 

Link to Maryam Al-Balushi’s testimony : https://youtu.be/r1l6l8dI0_c