Geneva - The circumstances surrounding the death of a Lebanese man who was being held in the United Arab Emirates must be fully disclosed, and an independent transparent investigation must be launched immediately, said Euro-Med Monitor in a statement on Monday. We also urge the UAE authorities to release all individuals arbitrarily detained in their prisons and to respect their rights to freedom of expression and movement.

Euro-Med Monitor reviewed reports regarding the death of Ghazi Fadel Ezzeddine, a man in his fifties, less than two months after being detained, alongside two of his brothers, by UAE authorities. The three brothers were taken into custody on 22 March and transferred to a security facility in Abu Dhabi without being provided with any explanation on the grounds of their detention. The three brothers are from Barish, a local authority in the Tyre district of the South Lebanon Governorate.

The Lebanese businessman, Ezzeddine, died tragically on Thursday, 4 May 2023, while being held in an Emirati security facility. Following his death, Ezzeddine’s two brothers were released from custody. However, due to the authorities’ refusal to permit the transfer of his body to Lebanon, he was buried in the UAE instead of his hometown.

   Emirati authorities had previously been involved in illegally detaining foreigners; subjecting them to interrogations that included psychological and physical torture   

Euro-Med Monitor stated that it had obtained a statement indicating that torture may have been the potential reason for Ezzeddine’s death during his interrogation by Emirati authorities at a facility linked to the State Security, located between Dubai and Sharjah. These reports, however, have yet to be examined objectively.

UAE authorities launched a detention campaign in March of this year against more than ten Lebanese citizens in the UAE for unspecified reasons and without any announced or clear legal procedures. They had since released a number of them while keeping about five in detention. Most of the detainees have resided in the UAE for many years and worked in various professions, including trade, medicine and entrepreneurship.

Emirati authorities had previously been involved in illegally detaining foreigners; subjecting them to interrogations that included psychological and physical torture, as well as inhumane detention conditions; and deporting them from the country under broadly worded security pretexts.

Euro-Med Monitor revealed its documentation of a testimony provided by a Lebanese individual who endured a prolonged interrogation. His identity and location of detention are withheld by Euro-Med Monitor for his security. The man claimed that he was arbitrarily detained without a legal warrant and subjected to harsh interrogations, including physical assault. The investigation focused on political issues concerning Lebanon.

In part of his letter, the detainee described an aspect of his mistreatment at the UAE State Security Service upon his arrival for a security interview. “When I entered the investigator’s office, he violently shoved me forward, cursed me with profanities, accused me of lying and deception, and continued to call me ‘Khayes’ [Arabic for ‘Stinky’],” he said. “He turned down the air conditioning to its lowest setting and left the room, leaving me alone in a very cold temperature.”

“After a few minutes, the interrogator returned with two people who appeared to be security personnel and ordered them to beat me. They hit me in the chest and neck, insulted me, and grabbed me by the head to hand me over to the interrogator once more,” he added.

The ambiguity of Emirati authorities concerning the detentions they carry out raises questions about the legality and reason behind these practices. In most cases, the authorities refrain from issuing public statements explaining the grounds for detaining certain individuals and do not respond effectively to inquiries from human rights organisations on related cases.

The UAE government must launch an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of the Lebanese Ezzeddine while in custody and make the findings public to ensure the identification and accountability of any potential perpetrators. Euro-Med Monitor urges the Emirati authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those arbitrarily detained in their prisons, to cease illegally persecuting people, and to respect individuals’ rights to free expression and movement.