UK MPs call on UAE to release 14 detainees including British national

UK MPs call on UAE to release 14 detainees including British national
British MPs have given their names to a petition calling on the UAE to release 14 detainees who have served their time but remain in prison.
3 min read
08 March, 2021
The detainees have completed prison time but have not been released [Getty]
British politicians have signed a petition calling on the UK government to put pressure on the United Arab Emirates to release 14 individuals who have been detained in Emirati prisons after serving their full sentences.

MPs Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat and Desmond Swayne, Conservative, are some of the eight Members of Parliament who signed the petition, launched by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

One of the individuals currently in a UAE prison is 54-year-old British national Michael Bryan Smith, despite completing the end of his prison term.

Human rights activists say they are being held without any legal basis - meaning they are being kept in arbitrary detention.

Thirteen UAE nationals are being held also using National Law No. 7, a criticised piece of legislation that allows the kingdom to hold their nationals for extended periods of time, even after their prison sentences have been served.

This includes Princess Latifa, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, who is currently being held in a heavily guarded villa against her will without access to the outside world since 2018 after she attempted to exercise her right to freedom of movement and travel outside the country on her own.

The UAE's use of this legislation to hold Smith is "extraordinary", Euro-Med monitor said.

Dr. Tanya Newbury-Smith, a British academic and a trustee of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor commented: "There has been strong backlash against Dubai over its detention and treatment of Princess Latifa, and her case is one of many.

"Today, along with 15 senior Parliamentarians, we are highlighting the case of UK national Michael Smith who is being held in prison despite being already given a pardon and having completed his sentence."

Upon his arrest in Thailand in 2009, where he spent two years at a Thai prison and contracted HIV at a hospital, Smith was extradited to the UAE over forgery charges against him during his work at an international company there.

Smith was sentenced by a Dubai court in 2012 to 12 years prison and a fine of $653,000, following a trial during which he had no legal representation nor interpreters, campaigners say.

His sentence was later reduced to six years by an appeal court, and in 2014 he was pardoned as part of a general amnesty.

However, he is still being held in a UAE jail, the petition read.

"During his detention, his charge was changed to two additional courts' actions without his knowledge. During his day in court, Michael was denied adequate legal counsel or even an interpreter. This is not fair justice."

Dr. Newbury-Smith continued: "During his time in prison he contracted HIV, which requires a constant supply of anti-viral drugs to treat the disease. Prison authorities, however, have failed to ensure treatment, turning a 6 year prison sentence into a death sentence."

In February Human Rights Watch launched a campaign for his release, writing:

"Nothing about the details of Michael Smith’s extradition to the UAE and his court proceedings there, both civil and criminal, inspire any faith in the UAE judiciary’s ability to abide by its own laws, let alone international standards,"  said Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

"Holding a detainee beyond his prison sentence and depriving him of adequate medical care for a serious health condition demonstrates the UAE's total contempt for the rule of law."

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