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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

Andre Gauthier interrogated by officers and denied access to Canadian diplomats

“He has just been cooked by 5 police officers for hours. He hasn’t been allowed to see Canadian officials or his lawyer”, relays son Alexis Gauthier who is desperately campaigning for an end to his father’s ordeal, following his extradition from Oman to the UAE where is currently in police detention.

“The UAE is a documented human rights abuser”, says Radha Stirling, an expert witness and CEO of Detained in Dubai. “The UAE is notorious for coerced and forced confessions, unfair trials, detentions without evidence, human rights violations and torture. British national Lee Bradley Brown was killed in police custody, with three witnesses attributing his death to police violence.

“Foreign governments simply can not trust local authorities and can not take the usual line of “following a case” and “ensuring due process”, because frankly, if the UAE had followed Western standards of due process, André would not be in this predicament”.

Stirling has worked closely with foreign governments over the years, “In a similar case of injustice, the foreign minister for Malaysia flew to the UAE to meet with rulers and successfully brought their citizen, Mr Richard Lau, home. The UK’s foreign secretary similarly sought the freedom of British national Matthew Hedges, while the Australian government brought their citizens Matt Joyce and Marcus Lee home.”

One US/Canadian dual national, Mr Robert Buchan, after learning of André’s situation, said he was stunned by Canada’s lack of interest in his own case “the Canadian embassy did absolutely nothing. They did nothing! Zero!” so he turned to the US government for assistance,“if it weren’t for the US consulate, I would have spent 4 years in jail. I hope Mr Martel can be the hero. Someone has to stand up to the lawless Emiratis”. Mr Buchan’s innocence was later proven through the US courts. The US also recently assisted to secure the release of their citizen, Mr David Oliver.

Stirling continued “We are working with André’s family, as well as the Canadian Ministry for Foreign affairs, Ms Goldsmith-Jones & of course, Richard Martel, MP who has been absolutely incredible in his representation of Mr Gauthier. We are extremely concerned for Mr Gauthier, who has already been arbitrarily detained for over a year and a half, on charges that the court’s own expert has proven him innocent of. This is certainly not a case where the Canadian government can be silent. Canada has promoted the UAE, assisted with their public relations and actively sought interest in Dubai’s #Expo2020. The UAE is the largest importer of Canadian goods in the gulf region and both countries have worked to develop their diplomatic and trade relations. However this can not come at the expense of Canadians and the abuse of citizens cannot be taken lightly. Canada needs to send the UAE a clear message that human rights violations against their citizens are a priority and will not be tolerated. The British foreign secretary even went so far as to threaten sanctions against the UAE as tensions escalated over the arbitrary detention of a British national, and if André’s detention continues, Canada may need to indicate that they are willing to do the same.”

Detained in Dubai will warn Canadian investors and mutual business groups will be warned of the dangers of doing business in Dubai. “The UAE has shown itself to be dangerous to investors and expats, with frivolous unevidenced allegations resulting in years of arbitrary detention and wrongful convictions. The more successful an individual or business is, the more at risk people involved in it are. The UAE needs to urgently address the case of André Gauthier and assure foreign investors that it will no longer support or tolerate the detention of innocent foreigners. While he remains detained, the Canadian government will be obliged to issue consular warnings to expats and increase their travel warnings to the country”.

Mr Richard Martel, MP in Parliament yesterday, called for further action on behalf of André, “If the Prime Minister’s priority truly is Canadians, I’d like to know whether he asked the US Vice President’s help in connection to Mr André Gauthier, a Canadian citizen currently detained in the UAE, a country with a dismal human rights record”.

Ms Pamela Goldsmith Jones, MP responded “our government is working on this matter and has been for some time. The issue has been raised with the authorities in the UAE. We are monitoring the situation and will continue to do so.” Andre’s son Alexis, on the other hand, said “we do not want Mr Trudeau to follow the situation, we want him to lead it”.

“What Canada does next, will determine the way in which the UAE deals with citizens in the future. If approached well, Canadians will be more protected from abuses. If done poorly, we will see many more cases like André’s.Canada’s involvement in Mr Gauthier’s case will set a sort of precedent for diplomacy between the countries when facing difficult situations like the abuse of a citizen” said Ms Stirling, “the UAE needs to know Canada will not be pushed around”.

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