MPs urge UAE to open inquiry into Alia Abdulnoor’s death in custody
In an open letter organised by ICFUAE, a cross-party coalition of UK Parliamentarians have called for an independent investigation into the case of Alia Abdulnoor, the Emirati prisoner who died in UAE custody last May.
“We call on the UAE authorities to open an independent investigation into her case to establish whether she was treated in line with internationally agreed standards and, if appropriate, to initiate the prosecution of those responsible for any human rights violations that may have occurred,'' the letter, published in the Guardian, reads.
Alia Abdulnoor passed away in hospital in the UAE after a lengthy battle with breast cancer. Her last wish was to die at home surrounded by her family and loved ones. But the UAE authorities did not permit her this final dignity and ignored calls by the UN and EU parliamentarians to grant Alia early medical release. Instead, she died in inhumane conditions, in a windowless room without ventilation, while shackled to a hospital bed.
Alia was arrested in 2015, disappeared for four months and forced to sign a confession under duress. Two years later, in a trial Human Rights Watch have described as “marred by due process violations”, she was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of ‘financing terrorism’. Family members have said that evidence for this was based on small donations Alia made to Syrian families at the advent of the country’s revolution in 2011.
A year after her arrest Alia was diagnosed with breast cancer. According to her family, this was left untreated by the authorities, who instead subjected her to abuse and mistreatment.
Her death has been met with widespread condemnation from the international community. Today’s letter is just the latest intervention calling for an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Alia’s death, echoing an earlier statement by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR). The UAE authorities are yet to respond to these demands.
“It is fantastic that so many MPs have signed this open letter, organised by ICFUAE. It’s a real indication of the UK Parliament finally starting to take note of human rights abuses in the Emirates. It is absolutely vital the UAE open an independent investigation into circumstances surrounding Alia's death. There must be justice for her family, who have suffered unimaginably throughout this ordeal. As long as the Emirati authorities refuse to do so, one cannot possibly celebrate the UAE’s Year of Tolerance.”