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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

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In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Authorities have been criticized by international human rights organizations for failure to investigate allegations of torture and mistreatment in custody, including denial of medical care. Detainees regularly report abuse by the authorities.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: UAE


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the United Arab Emirates.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: United Arab Emirates

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 11 August 2021]


Based on reports of released prisoners and their family members, diplomatic observers, and human rights organizations, UN human rights experts believed that some individuals imprisoned for suspected state security and nonstate security violations were subjected to torture or mistreatment. Human rights groups alleged these abuses took place during interrogations and as inducement for signed confessions. UN human rights experts and those released from detention in recent years alleged that authorities used techniques including beatings, forced standing, and threats to rape or kill.


There were reports that individuals in state security detention facilities were mistreated, abused, and tortured. Prisoners complained to Western embassy representatives that they witnessed routine abuse of fellow prisoners, stating that prison guards claimed they were able to erase footage from security cameras.

In March human rights organizations reported on the attempted suicide of prisoner Amina al-Abdouli after she was reportedly subjected to mistreatment, denied adequate medical care, and placed in solitary confinement for approximately three weeks. Al-Abdouli said that new charges of spreading false information and harming the country’s reputation were introduced after she shared information of her detention conditions with the United Nations.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Authorities have been criticized by international human rights organizations for failure to investigate allegations of torture and mistreatment in custody, including denial of medical care. Detainees regularly report abuse by the authorities. Ahmed Mansoor went on hunger strike in May and September 2019 to protest the conditions of his detention, having been harshly beaten by prison authorities for his complaints; in October more than 100 organizations joined a global call for his immediate release.

Sharia (Islamic law) courts sometimes impose flogging sentences for offenses including drug use, prostitution, and extramarital sex.

Report Points to Mass Torture in UAE-Run Prisons in South Yemen

Financial Tribune, 14 August 2018

[accessed 15 August 2018]

[accessed 15 August 2018]

The report—which was provided by Yemeni military figures who worked with the Saudi-UAE coalition battling Yemen’s Houthi forces—described scenes of sexual abuse by Emirati army personnel and their Yemeni surrogates.

Individuals endured rape at the hands of coalition forces and were subjected to electrocution in the genitals, chest and armpits. Some detainees were hung in midair while being insulted and beaten, the report said.

Electric cables were used alongside wooden bats and steel poles during the interrogation sessions.

In some instances, the detainees are described as having been deprived of sleep and confined to narrow spaces with poor hygienic conditions and limited air ventilation.

For some, this was accompanied by sessions where their skins were lashed with whips and their wounds were subsequently covered in salt. Others had industrial nails inserted into their finger and toenails.

The report alleged more than 49 people died as a result of the torture and five gravesites were used to bury the deceased.

The account confirms a report by the Associated Press published in June over alleged acts of torture perpetrated by members of the Saudi-UAE coalition in a network of at least 18 secret prisons.

Female detainees tortured in UAE prison

Middle East Monitor, 11 May 2018

[accessed 16 May 2018]

In the complaint made by 36-year old Amina Mohammed Ahmed Said Al-Abdouli, the UAE citizen describes her ordeal in a “secret prison” where she said she had been interrogated for months by Nepalese female prison guards “who used all kinds of psychological torture, with verbal insults and threats of arresting [my] female relatives to abuse them”.

Al-Abdouli was arrested with her brother Mos’ab and her sister Moza in 2015. According to accounts of their arrests they were forcibly disappeared by undercover state security forces after they raided their house without a warrant. Her oldest brother, Waleed, was later arrested after he publicly condemned the arbitrary detention of his siblings during Friday prayers. All four siblings were held in secret locations and had no access to a lawyer or family visits, in contravention of international law.

Al-Abdouli said she was transferred to Al Wathba prison where she met detainees who were severely mistreated. Female prisoners had their hands and feet tied and were cramped into cells with 80 other women in rooms that are designed for only eight prisoners.

UN report: All parties in Yemen committed torture

Middle East Monitor, 15 February 2018

[accessed 16 February 2018]

The 329-page report which was submitted to the Security Council on 26 January was made public yesterday. In it the publication a panel of Yemen experts concluded: “The Government of Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Houthi-Saleh forces have all engaged in arbitrary arrests and detentions, carried out enforced disappearances and committed torture.”

Investigations in to 12 cases of detention by the United Arab Emirates in Burayqah, at the Al Rayyan airport led the experts to conclude that the UAE were responsible for torture, including imprisonment in metal cages, ill treatment, enforced disappearance of detainees and denial of due process.

The report confirmed the use of “starvation” as a weapon against the Yemenis by the Saudi-led coalition, which violated international law. But the blame was put on all sides of the conflict, which have violated international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Human Rights Watch: UAE commits torture in Yemen

Middle East Monitor MEMO, 22 January 2018

[accessed 22 January 2018]

In its 2018 World Report Human Rights Watch confirmed that “the UAE committed violations inside and outside the country in 2017. It arrested one of the most outspoken critics in the country and played a role in torturing and forcibly causing people to disappear in Yemen”.

Abu Dhabi “has also been involved in attacks in Yemen, including those that were committed through the support of offensive Yemeni forces carrying out security crackdowns in southern Yemen. The UAE runs at least two informal detention facilities in Yemen. Its officials appear to have ordered the continued detention of people despite release orders, forcibly detaining people, and reportedly moved high-profile detainees outside the country,” according to Human Rights Watch researchers.

In the same context the organisation further stated that “Former detainees and family members reported abuse or torture inside facilities run by the UAE and UAE-backed forces. Yemeni activists who have criticised these abuses have been threatened, harassed, detained, and forced to disappear. The United States is working closely with the UAE in Yemen”.

Survivors of UAE torture detail abuse ahead of UN review

United News of India UNI, Abu Dhabi, 21 January 2018

[accessed 22 January 2018]

[accessed 20 January 2019]

Foreign nationals who have alleged they were tortured in the United Arab Emirates have said that their countries could have done more to help them, with one former detainee claiming that Britain is letting trade deals trump torture, according to a report in the Middle East Eye.

Harrowing instances of rape, electrocution and sleep deprivation were described in minute detail by the four men who came together for the first time, days before the UAE’s human rights record is expected to be heavily scrutinised at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

May 30 Judgement Day for Americans Tortured In UAE

Brian Dooley, World Post, 28 May 2016

[accessed 8 August 2016]

On Monday, two Americans who have been held in an Emirati jail for almost two years will find out in court whether they will be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. Successful businessmen Kamal Ahmed Eldarat, age 58, and his son Mohamed, who is 33, were tortured into making false confessions and given a sham trial.

The Eldarats were disappeared into the UAE’s secret detention complex run by the State Security Apparatus in August 2014. Originally charged with terrorist-related offenses, they now face the reduced charges of providing foreign aid without the necessary permission after sending humanitarian aid to a Libyan city during its civil war.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


ARBITRARY DETENTION, TORTURE, AND FAIR TRIAL - In January 2014, 20 Egyptians and 10 Emiratis received five-year jail sentences on charges that they set up a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the country. They alleged that UAE authorities subjected them to torture in detention and denied them access to legal assistance for many months. In August, authorities detained 10 Libyan businessmen, at least 2 of whom forcibly disappeared. In September, UAE authorities detained six Emiratis with suspected links to local Islamist groups. At time of writing, authorities have not charged any of the men, and their whereabouts remain unknown.

Two British nationals alleged that they endured torture in pretrial detention. Hasnan Ali, whom a court acquitted of drug charges in April 2014, alleged that police in Dubai beat and threatened to shoot and sexually assault him. Ahmed Zeidan, who received a nine-year sentence for drug possession in May 2014, alleged that police in Dubai held him in solitary confinement for eight days and threatened him with sexual assault. Both men claim they signed legal statements in Arabic, a language neither can read.

In February 2014, the UN special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers criticized the lack of judicial independence in the UAE, arguing that the executive branch exerts de facto control over the judiciary. She also expressed concern over reports of the use of secret detention facilities and the ill-treatment and torture of individuals held in incommunicado detention.

UAE refutes 'one-sided' Amnesty allegations of torture against political prisoners

Rori Donaghy, Middle East Eye, 19 November 2014

[accessed 5 December 2014]

In Tuesday’s report Amnesty documented serious allegations of torture against those held in prison. The London-based watchdog said prisoners have described being “tortured and ill-treated” including having their fingernails “pulled out” by officers who have “beaten them severely and suspended them upside down for long periods” of time.

Authorities have repeatedly denied allegations of torture and on Wednesday warned of the all “too real” threat of extremism, saying that the UAE “represents an alternative vision of a stable, peaceful, moderate and modernising society.”

UAE: Reveal Whereabouts of ‘Disappeared’ Libyans

Human Rights Watch, Beirut, 5 Oct 2014

[accessed 18 November 2014]

Family members of two of the Libyans, brothers who have lived in the UAE since the 1990s, told Human Rights Watch that neither man has made any contact with their families since security forces detained them on August 28, 2014. The family members said that the authorities refuse to acknowledge that the men are in custody or divulge their whereabouts.

Police called one brother, Mohamed Elaradi, to come in for questioning at the Al Barsha police station in Dubai at 8 p.m. on August 28. He returned home at 11 p.m., accompanied by 8 to 10 security officials in civilian clothing. One of them said they were from Abu Dhabi. The men searched the house and confiscated a laptop, then left with Elaradi, telling the family he would soon return. They have not heard from him since.

Security forces detained his brother Salim Elaradi at a Dubai hotel on the same evening, and searched his home in Dubai, confiscating a laptop and a mobile phone.

On August 29, officers at Al Barsha police station told family members that they had no record of either man’s arrest, and the authorities have neither confirmed their detention nor disclosed any information about the two men in the intervening weeks.

Court hears evidence of Briton’s torture by Dubai police

Ekklesia, 17 Mar 2014

[accessed 18 March 2014]

A court in the United Arab Emirates on 16 March 2014 has heard evidence detailing the torture by local police of a British man charged with drugs offences.

Hasnain Ali, 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.

U.N. expert calls for probe of 'torture' in UAE prisons

Agence France-Presse AFP, Abu Dhabi, 5 Feb 2014

[accessed 25 March 2014]

A UN expert on Wednesday urged an independent probe into allegations of torture in United Arab Emirates prisons, which she was not allowed to visit during a fact-finding mission.

She told a press conference she had received "credible information and evidence" that detainees are arrested without warrant, blindfolded, taken to unknown places and held incommunicado, sometimes for months.   She said she also had evidence of detainees being "tortured and/or subjected to ill-treatment" including by being put in "electric chairs."   She said she was not allowed to visit prisons or meet with certain detainees, adding that "on one occasion, I was followed."

75% of United Arab Emirates Prisoners Report Police Torture

Reprieve, Center for Global Research on Globalization, 25 November 2013

[accessed 25 Nov 2013]

[accessed 31 August 2016]

The report, ‘Systematic Torture: Statistics from Dubai Central Jail’, compiled by a number of prisoners and analysed by lawyers at Reprieve, reveals that 75% of prisoners report some sort of torture or abuse by police upon arrest. Prisoners have also detailed the type of torture to which they were subjected with an alarming number including threats of a sexual nature.

Other techniques allegedly used by police include electrocution, severe beatings, and death threats. One prisoner said: “I was beaten so badly I could not kneel to pray for 15 days” while another alleges that “Police said this is their country so they can kill me and throw my body in desert as I am foreign.” Many prisoners featured in the report say that they were tortured in order to extract confessions, for example one prisoner who said that “the CID police pointed his gun at me and said he would shoot me if I don’t tell I sell drugs”.

Such reports of police torture are common in Dubai. One example is that of Grant Cameron, Suneet Jeerh and Karl Williams, three British tourists who were subjected to beatings and electric shocks, before being forced to sign documents in Arabic – a language they do not understand – while on holiday in Dubai last year. The men were subsequently pardoned and released, but, despite pressure from the UK Prime Minister to do so, the UAE has failed to carry out an independent investigation into their mistreatment.

Allegations of Torture in the UAE Require Action

Rori Donaghy, Director at the Emirates Centre for Human Rights, 21 October 2013

[accessed 21 Oct 2013]

[accessed 31 August 2016]

Handwritten letters by Egyptian prisoners include allegations consistent with those made by others, with prisoners saying they have been subjected to beatings, electric shocks and exposed to extremes of temperature in solitary confinement. Prisoners say guards have threatened them with HIV infection, sexual abuse and death while revealing that when they complain to the prosecutor, he has threatened them with further torture if they do not admit the charges against them.

Three Britons tortured in Dubai police custody, rights charity claims

Amelia Hill, The Guardian, 20 February 2013

[accessed 22 February 2013]

Three British men who have been held for seven months without trial on drug charges in Dubai were tortured by police with beatings and electric shocks, a human rights charity has claimed.

Grant Cameron and Karl Williams, both 25 and from London, and Suneet Jeerh, 25, from Essex, were arrested while on holiday on 10 July last year by police who claimed to have found a synthetic cannabis known as "spice" in their car.

The men signed documents in Arabic – a language none of them understands – after being threatened by having guns put to their heads and, in Williams's case, having electric shocks administered to the testicles, Marc Calcutt, a lawyer for the charity Reprieve, said.

They have denied charges of "consumption and possession with intent to distribute" and will appear at their first trial hearing on Thursday after spending seven months in custody.

In a draft witness statement provided to Calcutt, Williams said: "I remember that the police put a towel on my face so I could not see. They kept telling me I was going to die. I was so scared.

"Once I had been knocked to the ground, the police picked me up and put me on the bed. They pulled down my trousers, spread my legs and started to electrocute my testicles. It was unbelievably painful. I was so scared.

"Then they took off the towel and I could see that there was a gun pointed at my head. All I could think was that the gun in my face could go off if the policeman slipped, and it would kill me. I started to believe that I was going to die in that room."

The torture took place in the desert, it was claimed, where the men were initially taken after their arrest, and subsequently in a hotel room.

Human Rights in the United Arab Emirates

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 15 February 2013]

The human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has worsened as authorities arbitrarily detain civil society activists, holding them in secret, and harassing and intimidating their lawyers. An independent monitor found significant problems in the treatment of migrant workers on the high-profile Saadiyat Island project in Abu Dhabi, identifying the payment of illegal recruitment fees as a key concern.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

ARBITRARY ARREST, TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - An investigation into a death in custody resulted in one-month prison terms for five officials, while 13 others were acquitted of torture. A second case resulted in a finding of death by natural causes. Torture allegations made by two Syrian nationals and one US national were not known to have been investigated.

Most al-Islah detainees could not meet with family or legal representatives and in most cases their whereabouts remained unknown. They were permitted in rare cases to telephone their families.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 15 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The constitution prohibits torture, and there were no reports that government officials employed it;

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 6   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 15 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Although the constitution bans torture, there is compelling evidence that members of the royal family and the country’s police have used torture against political rivals and business associates.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES. 

Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- United Arab Emirates ",, [accessed <date>]