Bigger Picture

Briefing on the 10 Libyan Businessmen Detained in the UAE

Between August and September 2014 the UAE Authorities detained 10 foreign businessmen.  These 10 include two Canadians and two Americans. Many of the detainees have lived in the UAE for over two decades and have contributed to its business community and are highly respected.

The UAE Authorities would not share the whereabouts of the detainees with their families for several months. No charges have been made and reasons for the detainment have not been provided to families or to the Libyan, Canadian and American authorities.

Amnesty International has issued two Urgent Actions and Human Rights Watch has issued two reports. They have defined the arrests as enforced disappearance and the detainments as incommunicado. The detainees have been denied reasonable communication with their family members. The American and Canadian embassies have been restricted in their ability to offer consular support. Although organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have denounced the UAE government for these arbitrary arrests, it has not prompted UAE to take any meaningful action.

Detainees have been denied legal counsel and their families are not able to engage lawyers until the detainees are placed into the judicial system, which has not happened to date. Request from lawyers who have attempted to represent some of the detainees have been rejected.

In December 2014 four of the detainees were released and immediately deported without offering them any reasoning or legal basis for their detainment. These victims believe that they were released because their torture marks had healed after months of interrogation and abuse; yet the remaining victims were subjected to far more difficult methods of torture which have not healed to date.

After 420 days of arbitrary detainment, the arrests are clearly politically motivated. The UAE has directly intervened in Libyan affairs in hopes of influencing the strategic outcome of a specific faction. The released detainees describe their experience as an “information collection” campaign about Libya. One of the survivors explains that they were “prisoners of war”.

The victims are experiencing serious and life-threatening medical conditions. Some are at the verge of permanent paralysis or dismemberment of a leg.

These human rights crises in the UAE and its use of secret prisons, as well as the violations of these victims’ human rights and their deteriorating medical conditions have reached international attention and media.

The families have submitted an urgent communication and complaint to the United Nations in June and the UAE is currently under investigation.  On October 13th, 2015 the UN HRC Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Professor Juan Ernesto Mendez, issued a request to visit the UAE on the basis of credible and serious evidence of systematic torture taking place in secret prisons.

When the victims were kidnapped and detained their human rights under international law were violated.

  • The victims were held incommunicado for over four months;
  • The victims were not brought promptly before a judge;
  • The victims were not provided with legal representation;
  • The victims were not provided with appropriate access to their family;
  • The victims were not and still have not been informed of the nature and substance of the allegations against him;
  • The victims were subjected to systematic and inconceivable methods of torture;
  • The victims were and still are being denied adequate medical care;
  • The victims were not been permitted to challenge the evidence against him;
  • The victims have been denied consular support.

The families and lawyers of these detainees refute any charges or accusations that these businessmen have broken any domestic or international laws.

The international community should support the UAE’s efforts for reform while increasing pressure to halt these human rights violations and release these innocent men.