Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center

Torture methods in UAE prisons

6 Jul 2021
متوفر باللغة

Torture is one of the main features of Emirati prisons, as human rights organizations around the world continue to receive desperate messages from political detainees, about the torture and ill-treatment practiced on detainees by UAE authorities.
But torture in Emirati prisons is not limited to beating with a stick or slapping and kicking, as it is known to some, but beating has become one of the least common methods of torture that terrifies detainees in Emirati jails these days.
It seems that instead of thinking about a solution to the problem of overcrowding in prisons, Emirati authorities are spending their time looking for new torture methods, drawing on the experiences of the world's worst notorious prisons like Guantanamo.
This report monitors the most common methods of torture used against detainees by UAE authorities, as documented in reports by international organizations and as documented by Emirates Detainees Advocacy Centre (EDAC).

1. use of high & low temperatures:
The UAE authorities use low temperatures to torture detainees and many detainees stated that the UAE authorities kept them in solitary cells for 24 hours in freezing temperatures.
Most of the prisoners of conscience were subjected to this kind of torture, such as Dr. Muhammad al-Roken, Ahmed Mansour, Rashid Omran, Salem Hamdoun and others. They all complained to the extension judge about this kind of torture and said that the UAE authorities forced them to stand under the air conditioning for four hours at a stretch and put them in a cold room without a ceiling to force them to sign statements that were not theirs.

2. use of high temperatures:
Emirati authorities exploit the high temperatures characteristic of the desert climate at Abu Dhabi, which reach more than 40 degrees Celsius in summer, to torture detainees, detainee Amina Al Abdouli stated that while she was being taken to the prison in a car with another inmate, the officer deliberately turned off the air conditioning in the space designated for detainees, and closed the windows so that she and the other detainee felt they were suffocating severely due to the high air temperature. In the same context, many detainees in the prison Al-Razeen stated that the prison administration had deliberately turned off the air conditioners for long hours in summer.

3. Sleep Deprivation:
Sleep deprivation is one of the oldest and most common methods of torture and has been used extensively in recent decades in notorious prisons such as Guantánamo and Soviet concentration camps. Many detainees said UAE authorities forced them to stay awake and deprived them of sleep for long periods, sometimes up to three days.
The Libyan businessman, Rifaat Hadaqah, was one of the victims of this torture. He said in his testimony that during his interrogation, the Emirati authorities prevented him from sleeping for three consecutive days and pulled the mattress out of his cell, and when he tried to sleep on the floor, the guard prevented him from lying on the ground and threatened him .
To prevent the prisoners from sleeping, the prison administration plays loud sounds through loudspeakers and continuously puts high lights in the cell and we will mention more details about these methods as there are other negative effects on them.

4. Strobe Lights

The UAE authorities used strobe lights for 24 hours to deprive detainees of sleep, and as a means to stress and to exhauste detainees, and this method was used on a very large scale. Among the most prominent of those who were subjected to this type of torture are Dr. Muhammad Al-Roken, Dr. Ibrahim Ismail, Nasser bin Ghaith, Amina Al-Abdouli, Issa Al-Sari, Salem Hamdoun and Ahmed Mansour

Also they've used dim lighting. in one of the secret prisons the lighting was very dim because the light was outside the cell. many detainees' eyesight was damaged, some even lost one of their eyes completely.

5. Loud Music:

Numerous testimonies were received confirming that the administration of the prison Al-Razeen constantly plays loud propaganda music over loudspeakers, day and night, while the detainees are sleeping, resulting in psychological blows, as in the case of Dr. Muhammad Al-Roken, who fell into a state of panic after turning on the loudspeakers at night. Suddenly he fainted and after being taken to the prison clinic, he was found to be suffering from high blood pressure and an ear infection as a result of the loudspeakers.

6. Standing for Hours:

Standing for long periods of time leads to adverse health effects in the short term, such as leg cramps and back pain. In the long term, it also has serious effects on blood circulation and atherosclerosis. According to the testimonies of many detainees, they were forced to stand for hours and were severely beaten when sitting on the floor.

Emirati detainee Ibrahim Al-Marzouqi was one of them, as he was forced to stand on his feet for hours, while Libyan businessman Rifaat Hadaqa confirmed that the interrogator prevented him from sitting on the floor or sleeping even when he was tortured.

7. Lengthy Interrogations:

One of the methods of torture used by UAE State Security investigators is to stress detainees in various ways during interrogation, particularly by interrogating them for hours.

Emirati detainee Khalifa Al-Nuaimi told the prosecution during the investigation extension that he is interrogated six times a day, and according to many detainees, the interrogations take place throughout the day to exhaust the detainee.

8. Deepening Injuries:

State security interrogators usually focus on a particular part of the body and continuously beat it to increase the physical pain of the detainee.

For example, the Emirati detainee Amina Al-Abdouli was continuously beaten on the facial area and in the same area, causing weakness and blurred vision in her right eye and distortion of her lower teeth. This is the same problem suffered by detainee Maryam Al-Balushi.

9. Sexual Assault:

Many detainees were subjected to threats of sexual assault and rape during their time in interrogation or even in prison.

It should be noted that a large proportion of those who were raped were mostly of European nationalities, such as the Polish businessman Artur Ligęska, who said after his release from prison that he was raped by a guard, while the British businessman David Haigh stated that he was harassed and raped by a group of guards.


10. Nail Removal:

Although the method of nail removal is considered one of the ancient and very painful brutal torture methods, the Emirati authorities did not hesitate to use it against detainees. Dr. Ahmed Al-Zaabi was one of them. He told Public Prosecution Office, Mr. Abdel Moneim Khalil, that his nails had been removed during his interrogation in the prisons of the State Security apparatus.

11. Electrocution

A large number of cases of electric shocks were documented during interrogation and detention. For example, the Libyan businessman Rifaat Haddaqa, mentioned that there was an electric chair in all interrogation rooms, which was sometimes used by interrogators only as a threat, but other times was used effectively.

The Palestinian refugee Khaled Ahmed confirmed that he was repeatedly subjected to electric shocks during the second day of interrogation.

12.Psychological torture and death threats:

Emirati authorities use a variety of methods of psychological torture that cannot be counted, ranging from simple threats such as deportation and revocation of residence permits to death illusion and slow killing. One officer told Amina al-Abdouli, who was receiving treatment, that they could "put poison in the treatment" and threatened her with death. EDAC also observed several cases of people being deceived, such as the American prisoner of Libyan origin, Muhammad Kamal. In addition, an interrogator told Muhammad al-Siddiq that he would empty a gun in his head.

13. Exhaustion

In addition to the previous stress methods such as sleep deprivation and forced standing for hours, most detainees in the case (UAE 94) mentioned that their hands and feet were shackled for long periods of time. This was mentioned by Dr. Ali Al Hammadi, Maryam Al Balushi and Amina Al Abdouli.

14. beating

All these methods of torture do not mean that the UAE authorities have dispensed with the most well-known physical method of torture, beating, as most of the detainees confirmed that they were beaten at some point by various means.

detainee Ibrahim Al-Marzouqi said he was beaten with a water pipe during interrogation, while Dr. Ahmed Al-Zaabi 's severe beatings caused his feet to swell and bruise all over his body. The deceased Alaa Al-Siddiq also said that her father was also subjected to direct beatings.

15 Humiliation:

The Emirati authorities deliberately humiliated detainees by all possible means to make them have a mental breakdown or confess to acts they did not commit.

The humiliation of the detainee starts as soon as he enters the prison, where he is searched in a humiliating manner, and sometimes goes as far as rape or sexual harassment.

One of the incidents recounted by a Libyan businessman states that when he asked for water because he was thirsty, the interrogator put the water in his shoe and told him to drink it.

Maryam Al Balushi was one of the victims of constant humiliation as she was deliberately insulted and subjected to a humiliating search every time she asked to go to the clinic until she was forced to sign a paper admitting her refusal to go to the clinic and she was also prevented from using the female utensils she needed.