Torture Survivor and British Citizen, David Haigh, Launches Legal Challenge Against Emirati Authorities
The former Managing Director of Leeds United Football Club, David Haigh announced this morning that he was launching a legal challenge against Emirati authorities in relation to the torture he faced whilst he was detained in Dubai for almost 2 years from March 2014.
The announcement came at a press conference this morning in Parliament Square, where Haigh was accompanied by his lawyer, Mr. Toby Cadman of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, who was confident of victory but warned that proceedings could be long and drawn out, stating that “success will not come overnight”. He argued that although Haigh's treatment “at the hands of the Emirati authorities in custody does, on any objective view, clearly amount to torture”, the fundemental challenge lay in actually bringing Emirati officials over to the UK to be charged, something which is unprecedented in Britain. Haigh's legal team filed a preliminary inquiry to British authorities today with a request to launch an investigation into allegations of torture and human trafficking .
Haigh was arrested in Dubai in May 2014 after his former employer GFH Capital, an equity firm based in Dubai, accused him of fraud, claims that Haigh has vigorously denied to this day. He went on to spend 23 months in detention, a period in which Haigh alleges he was subjected to torture by UAE security officials on numerous occasions; this included being beaten, physically assaulted, tasered, and subjected to sensory sleep deprivation, as well as being forced to watch other prisoners being tortured in front of him.
On his return to the UK, Haigh has undergone,and continues to receive, medical treatment for the physical injuries he sustained during his detention, as well as psychiatric therapy after being diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
David Haigh's case is symptomatic of a wider problem facing British expatriates and foreign nationals living and working in the UAE who have become increasingly at risk of arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of Emirati authorities. This has come in the context of state repression being ramped up on Emirati, and non-Emirati citizens alike over the last few years, in which Amnesty International has repeatedly reported cases of enforced disappearances, unfair trails, torture and other ill-treatment of detainees in the UAE. Campaigners will no doubt hope that Mr. Haigh's legal challenge will help shine a light upon these issues more broadly, and crucially, compel the British government to hold the UAE authorities to account over its repeated breaches of international law, and its continued violations of the basic rights of those travelling and residing within its borders.