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once 06


International Centre for justice and human rights

Once again, Emirati authorities violate the right

of prisoners of conscience to have family visits

Geneva on January 9, 2017

Families of political prisoners and human rights activists who are jailed in Al Rezin prison, in the desert area of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, have reported that the prison authorities have deliberately barred them from visiting their imprisoned sons claiming that the phones which communicate the detainees with their families through the glass barriers, are broken and do not work.

They have also mentioned that Al Rezin prison authorities have used the excuse of the broken phones for more than once; in fact, on the 25th of December 2016, prison authorities intervened to cut off the visit of some families under the pretext of the broken phones and have evicted other families from the waiting room even before the start of their visit despite the completion of the inspection procedures.

Still, on December 26, 2016, the authorities of Al Rezin prison have also prevented the families from seeing their sons using again the broken phones as an excuse and did not care neither about the long distances that the families have done to get to the prison nor about their waiting in front of the prison gate for long hours.

The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights would like to recall of the bad reputation of Al Rezin prison, which was mentioned in more than one human rights report in which they described the prison as a notorious one that violates the detainees’ rights especially those of the political prisoners, human rights activists and bloggers who were exposed to torture and degrading treatment in addition to the spread of disease inside the prison.

Indeed, the ICJHR finds the prison officials’ excuse of the broken phones and the prevention of family visits without prior notice, as an attempt to crack down on prisoners of conscience and their families and a violation of their right to receive visits which was guaranteed by Emirati and International laws including Article 23 of the Federal Law No. 43 of 1992 on regulating penal institutions which confirmed that every prisoner has the right to contact his family and friends, receive visits and meet a counsel in private. 

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under any form of detention or imprisonment have also affirmed the prisoners’ right to remain in contact with their families and friends either through letters or through visits and have insisted on this right of having family visits as a fundamental and basic one.

Therefore, given the human rights violations committed against the prisoners of conscience and their families, the International Centre for Justice and Human Rights calls upon Emirati government to:

  1. Immediately release all those who are unlawfully imprisoned in Emirati jails including political prisoners, activists, lawyers and bloggers.
  2. Refrain from preventing the families, under any excuse, to visit their sons including political prisoners, activists, and bloggers who are languishing in Al Rezin prison and other Emirati prisons in accordance with The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under any form of detention or imprisonment.
  3. To open a fast and serious investigation by an independent body regarding the violation of the families’ right to visit their sons in Al Rezin prison and other Emirati jails and investigate about the allegations of torture and ill-treatment in Al Rezin prison which affected the prisoners’ physical and psychological sanctity and to hold accountable all those involved in these violations.
  4. To set a national human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles aiming at visiting prisons and detention centers without prior notice, monitoring violations of the prisoners’ rights and investigating about them and bringing those responsible for these abuses before an independent, fair and impartial judiciary.
  5. To promptly ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in order to authorize the Sub-Committee against Torture to visit detention centers and prisons of the United Arab Emirates.
  6. To allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and International human rights organizations to visit Emirati prisons and detention centers in order to see UAE authorities’ commitment to international relevant standards when dealing with the prisoners of conscience.
  7. To ratify the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols, the Optional Protocol on the Convention against Torture and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.


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