Conditions in UAE detention for jailed Brit revealed Stirling: ‘Abuse is commonplace’ in Sharjah fac
Bare, windowless rooms with a heavy iron-barred door; men packed side-by-side on the floor sometimes with not even enough room to turn over. Other rooms are so over-crowded that detainees sleep in a seated position. Such are the conditions in the Sharjah detention facility where people like British national Ali Issa Ahmed are held during investigations, and prior to sentencing, explains Detained in Dubai CEO Radha Stirling.
Ali, a chocolate factory worker from Wolverhampton, was vacationing in the UAE last month and attended a match during the Asian Cup when he was attacked by security personnel for wearing a Qatar team jersey. When he reported the assault to police, he was accused of falsifying the incident and causing his own injuries, and was immediately arrested. An ongoing political dispute between the UAE and Qatar has led the Emirates to criminalise any expression of sympathy with Qatar; so now Ali Issa Ahmed is facing potentially 15 years in prison.
“We have a very precise understanding of what Ali is going through,” she says, “The situation in UAE detention centres is bleak, and particularly so in Sharjah, a less developed emirate in the country with an even more regressive attitude towards human rights. Briton Lee Bradley Brown was killed in UAE custody in 2011, and that was in Dubai; Sharjah is even less developed and subject to less scrutiny. Conditions in detention are deplorable”
Comprised of roughly a dozen holding cells, conditions in the Sharjah police investigation headquarters’ detention facility are stark. Each room is bare with a thin, dirty cloth mat laid over the hard cement floor. Inmates are given a course blanket to sleep either on or under, and most choose to pull them over their heads to block out the fluorescent lights that are kept on 24 hours a day. People are constantly being brought in and moved out of the facility, but at any given time one cell may be packed with between 30-50 men. Each room has one cramped bathroom with a squat toilet that doesn’t flush.
“Detainees are locked in the cells at all times,” Ms Stirling sa