ICFUAE | International Campaign For Freedom in the UAE

ICFUAE | International Campaign For Freedom in the UAE
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Paralysed UK Pensioner being “held hostage” in Dubai after failing to pay debts

3 months 2 weeks

Paralysed UK Pensioner being “held hostage” in Dubai after failing to pay debts

UK citizen, Malcolm Munroe, is being denied the right to travel back to his home in Manchester, despite fighting for his life in a hospital in Dubai after his business went bust. The seventy year old pensioner's business collapsed whilst he lay in hospital after suffering from a stroke in 2013. His family in Manchester maintain that Malcolm will not live to see out his sentence or pay back his debts, yet the UAE authorities are refusing to release him.

Malcolm Munroe, who has lived in Dubai since the 1980s, owned a construction company with hundreds of employees. Whilst his two sons were visiting him for Christmas in 2013, Malcolm suffered a stroke and was placed in an induced coma where he almost died on two occasions. He has languished in a Dubai hospital ever since where he is fed through a tube and permanently connected to an oxygen tank. During this time, the Dubai government closed Malcolm's business and a number of creditors came forward to bring cases against him over outstanding debts. The cases went to court, and the UAE authorities handed down a three year prison sentence. Malcolm's family are desperate to bring him back to the UK to undergo rehabilitation and physiotherapy treatment at Salford Royal Hospital. However, the UAE authorities must agree to release him before he can travel back home to Manchester. 

Malcolm's family maintain they that haven't been able to visit him since the arrest. They have been informed that anybody connected to his company will be asked to pay any debts owed on entering the country. Family members have been told by Foreign Office officials that they could not guarantee their passage through UAE passport control without being stopped.

CEO of UK based NGO Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling has called on the Emirati authorities to release Malcolm. She said: “It is clear that nothing can be gained from Mr Munroe’s detention and that the humane thing to do would be to forgive his debts and allow his family to bring him home.

“Mr Munroe’s case is an example of how heavy handedly the UAE deals with debt; no one is exempt, even when they have suffered catastrophic health problems. While we hope that the UAE will relent in this case, it serves as a stark warning to other expats that any and all debt-related issues need to be addressed as quickly as possible for if they are not addressed, the consequences can be life altering”

The case of Malcolm Munroe constitutes a broader narrative of British nationals being detained in the UAE. Earlier this year, Luisa Williams, a 41 year old British citizen suffering from Cancer was unable to travel back to the UK for urgent medical treatment after the UAE authorities refused to hand over her passport due to a legal battle over a Facebook post. In recent years, the UAE's judicial system has drawn heavy criticism from rights groups such as Amnesty international for violating basic human rights of both Emirati and non Emirati citizens and acting in a manner that contravenes international law.

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