This racial targeting has wreaked havoc in the lives of some of the most marginalized members of Emirati society
LONDON, UK, October 26, 2021 / APO Group / –
Police in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carried out a massive campaign of arbitrary arrest and deportation of at least 375 African migrant workers who were arrested from their homes in terrifying nightly raids, taken to prison where they were subjected to degrading treatment and other human rights violations, before being collectively expelled without any form of due process, new research from Amnesty International has revealed.
Hundreds of African nationals were arrested on the night of June 24-25, 2021 before being arbitrarily detained incommunicado in Al-Wathba prison for a period of up to two months. The UAE police then faked negative PCR tests so that they could travel, stripped them of their personal belongings, including essential legal documents, and denied them access to a lawyer.
“These African workers lived and worked legally in the United Arab Emirates. This racial targeting has wreaked havoc in the lives of some of the most marginalized members of Emirati society as the UAE government presents itself as a model country for multicultural tolerance as it hosts Expo 2020 of Dubai, ”said Lynn Maalouf, deputy director of Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“The authorities brutalized hundreds of people on the basis of their skin color, mistreating them in detention, stripping them of their personal property and dignity before mass deporting them. The UAE must take a clear and public position that any racist targeting for any reason will not be accepted and it must ensure that those who have already suffered such treatment are provided with restitution and appropriate repair. “
Amnesty International interviewed eight women and 10 men who were arbitrarily deported and expelled from the United Arab Emirates following the June raids, including 11 from Cameroon, five from Nigeria, one from Uganda and one from Ghana. All described a pattern of racial targeting in the arrests, noting that those gathered were almost exclusively black. A few Asian nationals found living in the same apartments as Africans were also arrested.
The Emirati authorities detained them for between 35 and 61 days and summarily expelled them without giving them the opportunity to challenge their expulsion.
The UAE’s Interior Ministry issued a statement on September 3 stating that 376 women and men had been arrested “in connection with legal proceedings aimed at combating crimes related to human trafficking.” However, all those interviewed confirmed that the authorities did not inform them of the reasons for their detention and did not bring them before the judicial authorities to allow them to see and challenge the evidence against them.
However, African nationals were not given the opportunity to challenge their deportation as required by international law and due process standards. By arbitrarily detaining and deporting hundreds of African nationals en masse, on the basis of racial targeting and without due process, the UAE has violated international law relating to the prohibition of racial discrimination and prohibition of collective expulsions which carry an inherent risk of refoulement.
All those interviewed described the same pattern of racial targeting in apprehensions. Residents evicted from the Lagym building said there were people of various Asian and African nationalities living there, but security forces had targeted African residents and the handful of South and South Asian residents -Is detained had been chosen because they lived with Africans.
Workers interviewed said UAE police broke into their home between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and took them away without even allowing them to dress properly. They said police officers, some of whom have been identified as belonging to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), did not allow them to show their residency documents proving they were legally in the UAE.
Kabirat Olokunde, originally from Nigeria, was working as an assistant in an international school when she was expelled on August 22. She said the police did not allow her to dress and handcuffed her even though she was wearing her sleepwear. She said, “I would ask them, ‘Why am I here? I am not a criminal. I have my papers. Why are you bringing me here? And they said to me, “The Emirates give, the Emirates take. She also said that police assaulted her. “These idiots were touching my breasts… I told them, you touch [me] once again I’m going to slap you.
Sordid conditions of detention
The deportees described the squalid conditions in Al-Wathba prison, where they were held in overcrowded and unsanitary rooms and denied access to adequate health care, before being arbitrarily deported.
The prison authorities separated the men and women at the entrance, putting them each in separate rooms.
Women interviewed said that up to 220 inmates were being held in their part of the prison. There were only four toilets for all. All those interviewed said they had not received any masks and that there had been no testing for Covid-19 despite the significant risk of transmission in such a crowded space.
A woman who was pregnant when she was detained said she was refused anemia medication and nurses dismissed her complaints of abdominal pain. “I went there three months pregnant, came back and it was … five months, without medical care,” she said. “My weight was 58, 59 [kg] before. I got out, my weight was 51… It was horrible.
Legal rights ignored in mass evictions
Those interviewed said they had not been presented to a prosecutor, judge or court, nor had they received documents explaining why they were being detained. They also said that they had never had the opportunity to consult a lawyer or receive visitors. All but two said they were not allowed to make phone calls or contact a lawyer. The other two interviewees said that after a month in prison, inmates in their rooms had a chance to make a call if they had memorized a number.
The 18 deportees said they were forcibly returned to their countries of origin after being stripped of their personal belongings, including clothes, savings, televisions, electronic devices, all kinds of licenses and certificates, medical records. and, in some cases, proof of legal identity.
A Cameroonian nurse said: “All my diplomas, my diploma, my license, everything remained in the United Arab Emirates. Our money in the bank – because we work, we invest – our money stays there. All. We came [home] with just passports.
Five interviewees described how UAE authorities falsified negative Covid-19 PCR test results needed to travel abroad, when in fact they had not been tested for weeks before being deported. Amnesty International inspected three of the forged test documents, which were issued on Abu Dhabi Police Headquarters letterhead and did not bear a doctor’s signature.
Without a legal procedure and without an assessment of individual cases and the risks for the deportees, deportations amounted to collective expulsions, prohibited by customary international law. Expulsion should be based on an individual assessment, including the risk of an individual’s expulsion to a country where he or she is at risk of serious human rights violations. Those affected must be informed of the reasons and allowed to challenge the legality of their detention and expulsion.
“The UAE authorities must investigate this appalling incident with a view to providing the victims with prompt return of their property and redress for the shameful treatment they suffered prior to their deportation. The UAE is bound by obligations under customary international law and treaties prohibiting racial discrimination and prohibiting forced mass returns, ”said Lynn Maalouf.
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