A coalition of human rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reprieve have called on the Prime Minister to raise the issue of human rights abuses with the President of the United Arab Emirates when he pays a State Visit to Britain on Tuesday.
In a letter to David Cameron, the organisations urge him to raise the “UAE’s discriminatory and disproportionate response to peaceful criticism, its severe violations of due process and fair trial rights, and credible reports of torture – including the alleged torture of three British nationals,” during the visit of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The letter cites a number of incidents, including the torture by Dubai police of Grant Cameron and Karl Williams, from London, and Suneet Jeerh from Essex in July last year. The three men were subjected to beatings and electric shocks and forced to sign documents in Arabic, a language they do not understand, before being charged with drugs offences. They have pleaded not guilty to the charges, and a verdict is expected in their trial on Monday 29 April, the day before the Sheikh’s arrival in Britain.
The legal charity Reprieve says UAE has failed to carry out a proper investigation into the men’s mistreatment in line with their obligations under international law; meanwhile, authorities in the country have proceeded with their trial, calling the police involved in their torture as witnesses against them.
Reprieve investigator Kate Higham said: “Rolling out the red carpet for a regime which has tortured our fellow citizens will be seen as deeply unsettling by many Britons. It is therefore crucial that the torture of three British tourists by Dubai police, and the wider context of human rights abuses across the UAE, is at the top of the agenda during this visit. Our reputation in the world can only be damaged if the Government puts political convenience above standing up for our fundamental principles.”