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UA 075/19
United Arab Emirates
Abgeschlossen am 12. Juli 2019

Incommunicado detainee at risk of torture

AI-Index: MDE 25/0445/2019

Lebanese detainee Ahmad Ali Mekkaoui has been held incommunicado since 11 April 2019. He is at heightened risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Ahmad Ali Mekkaoui is serving a 15-year prison sentence in the United Arab Emirates on «terrorism» charges. Legal proceedings against him have been seriously flawed, including arbitrary detention, excessive pre-trial detention, forced confessions, allegations of torture, and lack of access to medical care. In April 2019, the Prosecutor pressed new speech-related charges against Ahmad following a TV news report in which his sister and legal consultant were interviewed about Ahmad’s torture and unfair trial.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Ahmad Mekkaoui is a 52-year-old Sunni Lebanese national, from Tripoli, North Lebanon. Prior to his arrest, Ahmad ran a car repair company that he owned in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates’ capital.

On 13 October 2014, plain-clothed State Security Personnel arbitrarily arrested Ahmad Mekkaoui at his house in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Ahmad was only able to call his wife twice during his first two days of detention and told her that he was «very tired». His family did not hear from him for the following nine months, during which he was held incommunicado in an undisclosed location. During that time, Ahmad was kept in solitary confinement and was forced to sign «confessions» under torture. He was scalped, raped with a steel rod, beaten on the face, and deprived from sleeping for two weeks. As a result, he sustained several injuries including sight loss in one eye, broken nose and fingers, a tearing in the rectum and a growth in the neck. Ahmad underwent three operations at the Zayed Military Hospital in Abu Dhabi. In October 2018, Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar published voice recordings of Ahmad in which he described accounts of his torture.

In January 2016, 14 months after his arrest, Ahmad’s trial started before the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court, along with six co-defendants. On 31 October 2016, the court sentenced Ahmad to 15 years imprisonment on charges of «communicating with Hezbollah», a Shi’a political party and armed group based in Lebanon, «with the aim of harming the military and political status of the United Arab Emirates and its national interests; disclosing classified defense secrets to Hezbollah and establishing an international organization inside the United Arab Emirates without obtaining authorization from the Government.» The sentence was final and could not be appealed as it took place before the UAE introduced a new Federal Law (No 11/2016) allowing an appeals procedure for cases relating to state security.

On 15 September 2017, the United Nations Working Group on arbitrary detention issued an opinion (Opinion No. 47/2017) in which it deemed the «deprivation of liberty» of Ahmad Mekkaoui arbitrary.

On 11 April 2019, Ahmad called his family and told them that the Prosecutor pressed new charges against him for «harming the reputation of the UAE», following a TV interview in which his sister and his Lebanese lawyer spoke about his case. Ahmad has been held incommunicado since then.

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