Geneva – The serious deterioration of UAE run prisions in the Yemeni province of Aden are deeply concerning, says the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, “especially following the recent escalation in extrajudicial killings as well as a recently carried out strike in a UAE prison.”
Detainees in the UAE-run Birohamd prison are subjected to ‘the most severe forms of physical and psychological torture’, warns the Geneva-based Euro-Med Monitor. Such actions risk further security deterioration in Aden.
Gunmen have assassinated the Imam of a mosque in the Mansoura neighborhood in Aden, as he was on his way to perform Fajr prayer, according to his family. This is the third case of assassination in a month, with another two imams previously assassinated in the province.
Although the UAE is in control of Birohamd prison, it has not been dealing well with the strike already in place for over eight days now. More than 170 detainees are detained arbitrarily, even without charges in the 40-square-meter, 60-cell prison.
The detainees have been living under difficult conditions, and have been subjected to inhumane practices for 18 months. As a result, they went into a hunger strike. Most of these are politicians or mere civilians, with a few fighters. Most of the detainees are from the cities of Taiz and al-Bayda, however a few are from Sana'a.
The UAE authorities do not allow detainees to be visited, even if by the United Nations bodies, which is a “blatant violation of international humanitarian law as well as human rights law, both of which guarantee prisoners the right to know the reasons for their detention, the right to counsel by lawyer, and the right to challenge their detention before an impartial court”.
In solidarity with the hunger strikers, a protest was organized by the families and relatives of the detainees before of the Judicial Complex and the Supreme Court of the Republic in Aden. During the protest, families said UAE and the “official” government in Yemen take full responsibility for the safety of their children. They also demanded that detainees be brought to trial, knowing what they are charged with, or else be released.
Detainees went on a hunger strike because UAE forces, who are controlling the prison, refused to allow the Public Prosecution and judiciary to interrogate detainees within legal and judicial frameworks, said a lawyer in Aden to the Euro-Med team.
The lawyer added that, detainees’ health has been deteriorating, with 15 of them blacking out. Prison administration are also said to have tried to force feed detainees, but that has failed.
Abuses and other violations have been confirmed by the detainees themselves during phone calls with their families, stating that they were subjected to various ways of torture and mistreatment. The phones are smuggled into prison, and detainees are denied contact in the first place, said the same lawyer.
Two detainees have been taken out by UAE authorities to dissuade other detainees from keeping the strike going; however, due to uninhibited violations these authorities have committed, the strike was not ended.
All parties involved in the situation in the Aden province must take responsibility and spare civilians the repercussions of the ongoing armed conflict, said Ihsan Adel, Euro-Med Monitor’s legal adviser.
The practices committed by UAE forces inside the Birohamd prison are catastrophic. So long as detainees have certain inalienable rights and the UAE is bound by the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture, they cannot opt out of their commitments, Adel further stressed.
The UAE and the coalition countries have a responsibility to treat all prisoners in Yemen with dignity and respect, and to present them before an impartial court, releasing those not convicted of any crime.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor calls on all countries that are party to the conflict in Yemen to put an end to the repressive violations against detainees in prisons as well as to take urgent practical measures to ensure their safety, prompt release and the cessation of arbitrary attacks against them.