UAE: AVTUAE participated in the NGO briefing before the initial review of UAE by the committee against torture

The Association of Victims of Torture in the United Arab Emirates (AVTUAE) participated today, 12 July 2022, in the NGO briefing held at 3pm at the Palais Wilson, headquarters of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, on the eve of the initial review of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) during the 74th session to be held from 13 July to 14 July 2022. This will be the first report submitted almost 10 years late by the Gulf State since its ratification of the Convention in 2012.

The AVTUAE was represented by its President, Mr Naji HAMDAN, who intervened in person to testify about the systematic practice of torture in the country, particularly through his painful personal experience.

An American national of Lebanese origin, Mr. Hamdan is one of the countless victims of torture in the UAE. Arrested on 29 August 2008 at his home by secret service agents on the pretext of terrorism, he was held incommunicado for 89 days in an unknown location before finally being transferred to Al Wathba prison. Locked in a refrigerated room, he was threatened with death and with having his wife taken away and raped in front of him, constantly and violently beaten on different parts of his body, especially on the soles of his feet, until he lost consciousness.

Mr Hamdan believes he owes his life today to the important media attention his situation has received, particularly from the US press: “Perhaps my US citizenship and media attention saved my life so I can sit before you today.”, he added before continuing, “Other inmates were not so lucky. We continue to receive testimonies from victims and their families seeking our help and the help of the UN”.

Mr Hamdan spoke on behalf of the members of his association and the many victims of torture in the UAE including Mr Ahmad Mikkawi, a Lebanese citizen detained in the UAE since 2014 and placed in solitary confinement since October 2019 without any contact with the outside world.

“His family intreated me to raise his case before your delegation and here I do”, he said before respectfully inviting the experts to think about the pains of those tortured, raped and the lives destroyed by the UAE.

Finally, Mr Hamdan called on the Committee against Torture to bring those responsible to justice and bring torture to an end.

To follow the initial review of the United Arab Emirates: https://media.un.org/en/webtv

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