Emirati security forces have been holding Libyan-American citizens Kamal and Mohammed al-Darat in detention for over a year without charge. Authorities detained the al-Darats in August 2014 along with eight others whom UAE authorities suspected to be tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, a designated terrorist organization in the UAE. Members of the al-Darat family state that neither Kamal nor Mohammed has ties to any Muslim Brotherhood organizations. From August 2014 to November 2014, the family did not know where the men were being held. The family says that UAE officials have prevented them from hiring a lawyer for Kamal and Mohammed. Only four of the ten men imprisoned with the al-Darats have been released, and according to their accounts, security officers held them in a secret location and tortured them.
Reports suggest that over 200 people are behind bars for political reasons in the UAE. Security forces have arbitrarily detained both citizens and foreigners, contributing to an atmosphere of fear among residents. The State Security Apparatus has disappeared and tortured many prisoners, particularly political dissidents, holding them with little to no contact with the outside world. As in the case of the al-Darats, security forces deny many families access to their loved ones, and in some cases officials withhold information regarding the whereabouts and condition of prisoners.
Despite the UAE’s accession to the UN Convention against Torture, the ill treatment and torture of detainees remains commonplace in the UAE. The treatment of the al-Darats and other political prisoners indicates an urgent and growing need for international pressure on the UAE to uphold its commitments under the Convention against Torture, increase transparency in the criminal justice system, and comply with internationally recognized standards of due process.