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Press briefing note on United Arab Emirates

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani
Location: Geneva
Date: 7 May 2019

1) United Arab Emirates

We call on the Emirati authorities to investigate the circumstances around the death of Alia Abdulnoor. Ms. Abdulnoor passed away in Tawam hospital in Al-Ain on 4 May 2019. She suffered from terminal cancer and was reportedly denied proper treatment, held in degrading conditions – which could amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

When Ms Abdulnoor´s cancer – in remission since 2008 – resurfaced in 2015, her family repeatedly appealed to the authorities to release her on health grounds, permissible under the Emirati law. Calls by UN human rights experts* for her release and to let her “live her final days in dignity” were ignored.

Ms Abdulnoor was arrested by State security in July 2015. She was reportedly held in secret detention and solitary confinement subjected to physical and psychological humiliation and forced to sign a written confession obtained under torture. Ms Abdulnoor was charged with “financing terrorism” based on the Anti-Terrorism law of 2014. In February 2017, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison where the Federal Appeal Supreme Court upheld the conviction.

We call on the authorities to fully investigate the credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Ms. Abdulnoor and to bring to justice all suspected perpetrators. We urge the authorities to provide adequate medical care to all prisoners, review the cases where there are allegations of torture, and to review counter-terrorism and cybercrime laws to bring them in line with international human rights norms.


For more information and media requests, please contact: Rupert Colville - + 41 22 917 9767 / rcolville@ohchr.org or Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org or Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / mhurtado@ohchr.org

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