UAE: Activist Abdul-Salam Darwish languishes in jail while his family suffers constant harassment by the authorities

This post is also available in: arالعربية (Arabic)

Geneva, 24 June 2020 

Eight years have passed since the arbitrary detention of Emirati activist Abdul-Salam Darwish, head of the Family Conciliation Service at Dubai courts, on July 24, 2012. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and administrative control within the “UAE 94” trial.

Darwish was arrested by civilian officers, led by Officer Ali al-Saif, while he was driving on the main road on July 24, 2012 at 11 pm. His car and home were searched for more than two hours and all electronic devices were confiscated without any warrant.

He was held incommunicado and tortured in an unknown place in order to extract confessions from him, as it was documented through leaked letters from Al-Razeen jail. In fact, the letters recounted the different methods used to abuse him including beating, threatening to suspend medicine, keeping the lights on 24/7 and preventing him from the most basic rights such as sunlight, sports, newspapers and books. He was only allowed to communicate with his family on 14/8/2012, 21 days after his disappearance through a 2 minutes phone call.

His family filed numerous complaints to the Public Prosecutor Office so they can visit him. Yet, they were able to see him only on November 26, 2012, 4 months after being forcibly disappeared and they could clearly see signs of torture and ill-treatment on his face and his remarkable weight loss.

Darwish was denied adequate medical care despite having severe pain due to kidney stones, in addition to back pains caused by his exposure to torture and ill-treatment.

The State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court, headed by Judge Falah Al-Hajri, President of the Court and Judges Abdul Qader Rasoul and Abdul Rasoul Tantawi, did not exclude the confessions extracted under torture pursuant to the requirements of the Convention against Torture, and issued a final judgment that cannot be appealed sentencing Darwish to 10 years imprisonment and administrative control.

Darwish was also denied access to his lawyer before the trial, and the latter was not able to review the case file, which included 10,000 documents.

Al Razeen prison authorities abused and placed him in a narrow room with extreme heat in addition to the spread of dirt and diseases. He was put in a solitary cell several times without due reason and subjected to humiliating searches.

Abdul-Salam Darwish and his family were arbitrarily stripped out of their nationality and turned into stateless persons. They were denied from their right to resort to judiciary and have judicial appeal and prevented from seeing the decree revoking their nationality.

His wife Awatif denounced on social media the unfair measures perpetrated against her family by Emirati officials after being unjustly deprived from their nationality.

She further urged Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid to end the suspension of payment of her husband’s retirement pension which deprives her and her children of their only source of income. Her children are also denied the right to have scholarships since they couldn’t obtain a security approval and are constantly threatened with imprisonment for cyber-crimes in case they will publish posts about their father’s sufferings.  

Besides, Darwish’s family members are required, every time, to submit a request to higher authorities in order to renew their official documents including their passports and IDs, they are also prevented from getting governmental assistance and stripped out from their nationality while traveling for treatment. Bayan Darwish, daughter of Abdul Salam Darwish was banned from traveling.

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights calls on the Emirati authorities to: 

  1. immediately release activist Abdul Salam Darwish and other detained activists and conduct a prompt and serious investigation and by an independent authority into their rights violations. 
  2. grant Ms Awatif the retirement pension of her husband, after arbitrarily suspending it and put an end to the systematic violations against her family. The collective punishment of an entire family is a serious violation of international law and should immediately be stopped. 
  3. review the decision of withdrawing the nationality from prisoners of conscience and their families and turning them into stateless persons.

This post is also available in: arالعربية (Arabic)

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