EU slam Emirati regime for failing to release terminally-ill prisoner
The European Union have issued a statement condemning the Emirati authorities for ignoring calls from the international community to grant medical release to a cancer-stricken prisoner who passed away late last week.
Alia Abdel Nour, 44, died on Saturday 4, May after suffering from breast cancer, which resurfaced shortly after her arrest in 2015. At the time of her diagnosis, she did not receive urgent medical care from the prison authorities and was reportedly forced to sign a document stating that she had refused chemotherapy.
In a case described by Human Rights Watch as ‘marred by due process violations’, Abdel Nour was serving a 10-year prison term on charges of financing terrorism. Family members said that her conviction related to small donations she made to Syrian families affected by the country’s civil war.
Responding to news of her passing, an EU spokesperson said:
“The EU has been among the international actors repeatedly reaching out to the Emirati authorities on her case. Requests for clarification on the charges against her and on allegations of her degrading treatment and alleged torture during detention have not received a satisfactory response. The calls made for her release, including to allow her to live her last days in dignity and with her family at home on the grounds of her deteriorating health, were not heard, despite provisions in UAE legislation that would have permitted this.”
In March 2018, a coalition of 10 MEPs sent an open letter to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed, calling for Alia Abdel Nour’s release, which went unheeded:
“In the spirit of the UAE’s 2019 Year of Tolerance, we call on you to use the authority of your office, as the Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, to secure the release of Alia Abdel Nour, and pending her release, to unshackle her and allow family members unimpeded access to her.”
UN human rights experts and rights organisations had also been pressing for Abdel Nour's freedom.
The United Nations have since called for an urgent investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.
“We call on the authorities to fully investigate the credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Ms. Abdulnoor and to bring to justice all suspected perpetrators. We urge the authorities to provide adequate medical care to all prisoners, review the cases where there are allegations of torture, and to review counter-terrorism and cybercrime laws to bring them in line with international human rights norms.”, a statement on Tuesday read.