UN Experts address an urgent appeal to the UAE about the inhuman conditions of Maryam Al-Ballushi


This post is also available in: arالعربية (Arabic)

Geneva, March 24, 2020 

On March 17, 2020, UN experts issued an urgent appeal to the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to raise their concerns over the alarming detention conditions of Maryam Sulayman Al-Ballushi, arrested on November 19, 2015 and detained at Al-Wathba prison since.

The two experts – the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment  and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health – issued the urgent appeal after Maryam Al-Ballushi attempted to take her own life at Al-Wathba prison. Maryam and another detainee, Amina Al-Abdouli, were placed in solitary confinement in mid-February and started a hunger strike in protest at their inhuman detention conditions.

Maryam was arrested on November 19, 2015 and charged with financing terrorism for donations she made to Syrian families. She was sentenced under the anti-terrorism law to five years in prison on the basis of confessions extracted under torture.

On February 19, 2019, UN Special Procedures had issued an urgent appeal last year about the deplorable detention conditions of Maryam Al-Ballushi, Amina Al-Abdouli and Alya Abdulnoor. The three women were subjected to torture and ill-treatment in prison and deprived of health care despite their poor health conditions until Alya Abdulnoor eventually died in pain on May 4, 2019.

After this communication sent in February last year, the three victims were subject to acts of reprisals and intimidation in prison, which the UN Secretary General raised in his annual report on the Cooperation with the United Nations mechanisms.

The UN experts expressed their concerns over the appalling detention conditions of Maryam Al-Ballushi, who “has been subject to inhuman conditions including having surveillance cameras inside her bathroom and being held in solitary confinement on multiple occasions for extended periods, most recently since mid-February.”

The Special Rapporteurs further recalled that the United Arab Emirates had failed to protect the  prisoners’ right to life and human dignity and noted with concern that Maryam’s suicide attempt is an expression of her pain and suffering.

The experts’ statement concluded by reminding the international obligations to protect the prisoners’ physical and mental health and ensure that conditions of detention are compatible with human dignity. They finally urged the authorities to open prompt and impartial investigations into the claims of ill-treatment suffered by Maryam Al-Ballushi, Amina Al-Abdouli and Alya Abdulnoor and their inhuman detention conditions.

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) joins the UN experts in calling for an impartial and independent investigation into the reports about the inhuman detention conditions and ill-treatment suffered by Maryam Al-Ballushi and other detainees.

The ICJHR urges the Emirati government to immediately and unconditionally release Maryam Sulaiman Al-Ballushi and provide her and all other detainees with adequate medical care. The Centre calls upon the authorities to stop the practice of solitary confinement and protect all prisoners form such measures and other cruel and inhuman treatments.

For more information, please contact us at info@ic4jhr.org

This post is also available in: arالعربية (Arabic)

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