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24 dec 2018


Geneva, December 24, 2018


On 24 December 2018, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) and MENA Rights Group submitted an urgent appeal to the UN Special Procedures asking for their prompt intervention with the UAE authorities regarding the case of Alya Abdulnoor. Alya’s condition has badly deteriorated while being held at Mafraq hospital without any treatment. This is the second urgent appeal submitted by the ICJHR to the UN Special Procedures concerning the case of Alya Abdulnoor.


As a reminder, Alya Abdulnoor was arrested on July 29, 2015 late at night, when the State Security Services broke into her house without any warrant. She was taken blindfolded to a secret detention center and put in a very narrow solitary confinement cell without windows, bath or toilet, under constantly monitored by surveillance cameras. She was also stripped of her clothes, threatened and intimated in order to extract confessions from her and force her to sign written confessions without reading them.


Alya Abdulnoor was tried before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court in total disregard of fair trial guarantees. On May 15, 2017, the court sentenced her to 10 years in prison on the basis of the Federal Law of 2014 on Combating Terrorism. Despite the victim’s allegations of torture, the judge did not order any medical examination to investigate the torture allegations. Furthermore, the court did refused to rule out the confessions extracted under torture in breach of the International Convention against Torture ratified by the UAE in 2012.


Shortly after her arrest, Alya Abdulnoor was diagnosed with cancer and her situation has been getting worse ever since. She is suffering from vitamins and iron deficiency, swelling of the lymph nodes and cirrhosis of the liver as well as osteoporosis, which made her lose all hope and feel closer to death. The cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and other parts of her body, including her lungs, her brain, her bones and her skin,


The situation worsened when Alya Abdulnoor decided to go on hunger strike in protest against the ill-treatment inflicted to her at Al-Wathba prison. She is also deprived from having medical facilities as well as family and lawyer visits.


Despite the numerous complaints submitted by Alya Abdulnoor’s family, the UAE authorities still refuse to release her in accordance with the provisions of Federal Law No. 43 of 1992 on Regulating Penal Institutions and to allow her to spend her last days with her family. Her family has even urged the Crown Prince of the UAE and other senior officials to intervene in order to put an end to all forms of violations and allow her to be treated properly, but no measure was taken to date and the victim remains in custody under inhuman conditions. Moreover, the UAE government ignored the family's demands and their request to allow her to receive treatment in another specialised hospital.


The mother of Alya Abdulnoor expressed her deep concern regarding her daughter’s health condition: “I watch my daughter suffering and dying after the cancer has spread to her entire body. She cannot move or walk by herself and they are still refusing to release her and allow us to take her to a specialised hospital able to treat her. All of it because she helped mothers and children seriously affected by the war.”


In May 2018, voice recordings of Alya Abdulnoor were leaked from the prison, according to which she was beaten, chained from both hands and feet, deprived of sleep, obliged to stand for long hours, threatened, intimidated and denied proper medical care pursuant to the third chapter of Federal Law No. 43 of 1992 on Regulating Penal Institutions.

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights therefore calls upon the authorities of the UAE to:

  • Immediately and unconditionally release Alya Abdulnoor and allow her transfer to a specialised hospital to be treated properly.

  • Open a prompt and impartial investigation by an independent body into Alya Abdulnoor’s exposure to torture, ill-treatment, unfair trial and arbitrary deprivation of her right to treatment.

  • Hold accountable all those responsible for these violations and give her the right to redress, reparation and rehabilitation.