A court in the United Arab Emirates yesterday heard evidence detailing the torture by local police of a British man charged with drugs offences.
Hasnain Ali (32), from London, was arrested in May 2013 in Dubai, and held incommunicado for several days. During this period he was repeatedly beaten and kicked, and threatened with tasers, firearms, and the prospect of sexual assault.
As a result of his torture, Mr Ali signed a “confession” in Arabic, a language he cannot read, related to charges of possessing and selling drugs. He faces a potential death sentence if convicted.
His trial is already underway, and yesterday saw witnesses who were held alongside him during his ordeal testify that they saw him suffering from severe injuries when he was returned to their cell between interrogation sessions. Under the Emirates’ own laws, all evidence tainted by torture must be excluded from the trial proceedings.
Mr Ali’s case is the latest in a string of incidents in which police in the UAE have tortured British citizens into ‘confessing’ to offences. Last year saw three British tourists — Grant Cameron, Suneet Jeerh and Karl Williams — pardoned and released, after it emerged that they had been beaten and tasered while being held by Dubai police in 2012. Questions still surround the death in police custody in 2011 of Lee Bradley Brown, another British tourist visiting Dubai.
However, the Emiratis have refused to conduct independent investigations into any of the above cases, despite the cases of Mr Cameron, Mr Jeerh and Mr Williams being raised directly with the UAE President last year by the British Prime Minister.
Legal charity Reprieve, which is supporting Mr Ali, has called for a full, independent, and impartial investigation into his torture by the authorities.
Reprieve investigator Kate Higham said: “This case is far from being an isolated incident. Police in Dubai routinely torture those they arrest into making confessions, but the country’s rulers are closing their eyes to the problem. The UAE government must start addressing this issue at the source, and not just waiting for the courts to sort out their mess. The British Government must also do everything in its power to end this culture of impunity, and secure justice for Mr Ali after his terrible ordeal.”
Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to GuantÃ¡namo Bay.