- Location of case in SG report
- Relevant SG report
- Year of the report
- From Country
- Country Geolocation
- Country Geolocation (linked Countries)
- United Arab Emirates
- Middle East and North Africa
- UN body that raised the case prior to the SG report
- UN (Dep.) High Commissioner on Human Rights
- Dates of prior UN action
- 26 February 2019; 7 May 2019
- Type of record
- Named individual
- Was the victim a foreign national?
- Was the victim a minor?
- Type of rights defended
- Civil/political rights
- Was the victim a civil servant, member of the security forces or of the judiciary?
- Reported trigger of reprisal
faced reprisals after information on their conditions of detention and health situations were shared in December 2018 with the United Nations special procedures, including recorded testimonies. Their conditions and the treatment of their family members while visiting prison reportedly worsened following action by three special procedures mandate holders on 12 February 2019 (ARE 2/2019).
- Engagement with UN body
- UN Special Procedures: thematic
- Dates of engagement
- December 2018; 12 February 2019
- Type of attempted engagement
- Submission of information to UN
- UN raised case of person/organization
- Dates of mentioned reprisals
- from beginning of January 2019; 4 May 2019
- Location of mentioned reprisals
- Tawam hospital
- Reprisal information
Their conditions and the treatment of their family members while visiting prison reportedly worsened
Ms. Alya Abdulnoor was arrested in July 2015 and charged with “financing terrorism” after she helped raise funds for needy Syrian families in the United Arab Emirates and war-affected women and children in Syria. Before her transfer to Al-Wathba prison, Ms. Alya Abdulnoor was reportedly held in secret detention and in solitary confinement for six months and subjected to intense interrogation, torture, and threats. In 2015 she was re-diagnosed with cancer shortly after her arrest and despite her health condition was not provided with adequate medical treatment. After her state of health worsened significantly, she was transferred to Mafraq Hospital in November 2016 and was kept there until January 2019. 107. At the beginning of January 2019, a few weeks after a press release on her conditions, Ms. Abdulnoor was suddenly transferred to Tawam hospital where medical staff had very limited access to her and treatment was monitored and authorised by the authorities. The authorities reportedly imposed more restrictions during visits, relatives were subjected to humiliating body searches and their personal belongings were taken from them. Ms. Abdulnoor died in custody on 4 May 2019, despite pleas from the United Nations for assistance.
- Types of reprisals suffered
- Detention/Imprisonment: Death in custody
- Family/friends/acquaintances targeted
- Physical attack: Torture/Cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment
- Alleged/likely perpetrators
- State actors
- Was the reprisal based on new legislation?
- Does the report make general comment about country’s environment for engagement with UN?
- Is the country cited for a "pattern of reprisal" in the context of this case?
- Is a pattern of reprisals mentioned otherwise in the context of this case?
- Does the report cite "self-censorship" as an issue in the context of this case?
- How many times has the case been followed up in subsequent SG reports?
- In which SG report was this case followed up on? 0
- Follow up information provided in SG report 0
The cases of Ms. Alya Abdulnoor, Ms. Maryam Soulayman Al-Ballushi and Ms. Amina Alabduli were included in the 2019 report of the Secretary-General (A/HRC/42/30, para. 79 and Annex I, paras. 105–109). It was reported to OHCHR that their conditions had worsened after information was transmitted to the UN, and allegations of torture and ill- treatment in detention, and lack of appropriate medical treatment for the three women were raised by special procedures (ARE 2/2019). 86 Ms. Abdulnoor died in custody on 4 May 2019, despite pleas from the UN for assistance. 87
It was reported to OHCHR that, on 30 July 2019, Ms. Al-Ballushi and Ms. Alabduli were brought before the Federal State Security prosecutor for three new charges under Federal Law No.5 of 2012 on Combating Cybercrimes, relating to their efforts to raise awareness about their cases. The charges included “leaking wrong information,” “affecting the reputation of the UAE and Al Wathba prison negatively,” and “causing problems between countries.” Neither Ms. Al-Ballushi nor Ms. Alabduli reportedly have had access to legal counsel in relation to these charges. It was further reported that in February 2020, Ms. Al-Ballushi and Ms. Alabduli were placed in solitary confinement every Sunday, Monday and Thursday (the days when they had been previously able to contact their families) in retaliation for their refusal to provide authorities with a recorded confession intended for broadcast on Emirati television. On 23 February 2020, despite their poor health, they began a hunger strike in protest of their conditions and treatment.
On 17 March 2020, special procedures mandate holders urged the Emirati authorities to investigate and reform detention conditions that amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, citing the cases of the three women. 88 The urgent call followed allegations that Ms. Al-Ballushi, accused of “financing terrorism” because of her donation to a Syrian family, attempted suicide due to degrading conditions in the Al-Wathba prison in Abu Dhabi (see ARE 2/2019). The mandate holders stated that “Ms. Al-Ballushi has also been subjected to reprisals following the official communication we sent to the UAE authorities.” 89
On 14 July 2020, the Government responded to the note verbale sent in connection to the present report, refuting that Ms. Soulayman Al-Ballushi, Ms. Alabduli, Mr. Mekkaoui, Mr. Shaker Az have been subject to arbitrary detention or torture, or been placed in solitary confinement. The Government indicated that all have received the necessary health care and that while family visits were suspended due to COVID-19, all individuals have the right to phone calls. It noted that Ms. Abdulnoor was serving her sentence for abetting terrorism because of her support to Al Qaeda when the breast cancer she had before incarceration worsened, and she died in custody under the care of the State. The Government refutes the allegations pertaining to Mr. Mansoor, who they state has received regular medical care and meals and the alleged hunger strike is not true.
- Followup Trends 0
- No substantive information provided by SG report
- Did the government respond? 0