UN calls for investigation into death of cancer-stricken UAE prisoner
The United Nations have called for an urgent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Alia Abdelnoor amid credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment.
Alia passed away in UAE’s Tawam hospital on Saturday, May 4 after suffering from breast cancer, which resurfaced shortly after her arrest in 2015. Her family repeatedly appealed to the authorities to release her on health grounds, something permitted under Emirati law. However, the UAE authorities ignored calls from UN rights experts and EU parliamentarians to allow Alia to “spend her last days in dignity” at home.
Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said:
“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.”
In 2017, Abdelnoor was convicted of financing terrorism and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Family members have said that her conviction related to small donations she made to Syrian families affected by the country’s civil war.
Alia was held in al-Wathba prison, where she did not receive urgent medical care to treat her cancer; she was reportedly forced to sign a document stating that she refused chemotherapy.
On top of this, Alia was allegedly subjected to torture and pysichal and pyschological mistreatment by prison warders. According to testimonies smuggled out of al-Wathba prison, she was hit, kicked and tied up on multiple occasions.
The UN spokesperson added that Abdelnoor’s detention conditions “could amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”