Amnesty International Report 1999 - United Arab Emirates


Three possible prisoners of conscience were released. There were reports of ill-treatment as well as of the imposition of cruel judicial punishments. At least six people were sentenced to death and one person was executed. Three Qatar nationals were forcibly returned to Qatar.

Three possible prisoners of conscience – brothers Jassim and Yassir ‘Issa al-Yassi and Ahmad ‘Abdullah Makki – were released in January (see Amnesty International Reports 1997 and 1998). They had been held without charge or trial, reportedly in solitary confinement, since their arrest in Dubai in June 1996. Ill-treatment of detainees continued to be reported.

Cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments, including flogging and amputation, were reportedly imposed. In January an Indian and a Bangladeshi were reportedly sentenced by a Shari‘a (Islamic) court in Ras al-Khaimah to 90 lashes each in connection with a sexual offence involving a Sri Lankan woman. It was reported in June that three Omani nationals who had reportedly confessed to robbery had been sentenced by a court in Fujairah to amputation of their right hands. It was not known if the reported sentences of flogging and amputation were carried out. Reports received during the year suggested that the sentence of flogging imposed on Elie Dib Ghalib, a Lebanese national, was not carried out (see Amnesty International Reports 1997 and 1998).

At least six people were sentenced to death, the majority for drug offences. Among them was Qamar ‘Ali Khan, a Pakistani, who was sentenced to death in April in Dubai for drug trafficking. In June an appeal court upheld the sentence.

At least six other death sentences were upheld on appeal. In June the Supreme Court in Dubai upheld the death sentence against Touran Ibrahim ‘Abbas, an Iranian national. She had been sentenced to death in December 1997 for drug trafficking. The sentence was awaiting ratification by the President, Al-Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, at the end of the year.

In June the Supreme Court in Dubai referred the cases of Rabi‘ Ghassan Taraf, a Lebanese national, and Ryan Dominic Mahoney, a Canadian, back to the appeal courts for a retrial. They had been sentenced to death in November 1997 for drug trafficking. In December an appeal court in ‘Ajman postponed the appeal of three Russian men, Anton Samoilenkov, Ruslan Gerbekov and Ivan Tziberkine, who had been sentenced to death in June 1997 by a Shari‘a court in ‘Ajman in connection with the murder of another Russian national.

A further five people sentenced in previous years were believed to remain under sentence of death. The Supreme Court in Abu Dhabi again allowed the lawyers of John Aquino, a Philippine national under sentence of death for murder (see Amnesty International Reports 1996 to 1998), more time to seek clemency from the victim's family.

There was no further news of other people sentenced to death in 1997, including Ahmad Mohammad Amin Bada‘u, Mohammad ‘Abdullah ‘Abdul ‘Aziz and Nur Ibrahim (see Amnesty International Report 1998), or of people sentenced in previous years, such as Mashal Badr al- Hamati, a Yemeni national, and Zad Khan Shah, a Pakistani (see previous Amnesty International Reports).

‘Atallah Khair Mohammad, a Pakistani, was executed by firing squad in Dubai in June. He had been sentenced to death with two other Pakistanis and a Sri Lankan in April 1997 for a murder committed in 1993. It was not known whether the death sentences against the three other men had been upheld or commuted.

In June, three Qatar nationals were forcibly returned to Qatar. Fawaz al-Mahdi, ‘Abd al-Hadi Jaber Hadi al-Rakib and Mubarak ‘Abdullah Jassim al-Malki were subsequently arrested by the Qatar authorities in connection with a failed coup in Qatar in 1996 (see Qatar entry). ‘Abd al- Hadi Jaber Hadi al-Rakib was allegedly tortured in Qatar, and if found guilty, all three would face the death penalty.

During the year Amnesty International called for the commutation of all death sentences. No response was received from the authorities.

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