August 29, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jennifer Porter Gore
Byrd Porter Strategies
WASHINGTON—An international coalition of individuals formerly detained in the United Arab Emirates are calling on their governments to let travelers know of the high risks they face while they are in the U.A.E.
The former detainees stressed the need for enhanced travel information in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry; U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Boris Johnson; Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop; and South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
The letter’s signers include: Shezanne Cassim of Minnesota who was arrested in 2013 because of a comedy video; Syed Ali, who was detained in 2006 while working on a book; David Haigh, who was imprisoned for 22 months and suffered physical abuse by officials after a former employer accused him of breach of trust and twitter slander; Cyril Karabus, a doctor who was unaware he had been wrongfully convicted in absentia of killing a patient and then detained years later while flying through Dubai; Marcus Lee, who was detained and prevented from leaving the U.A.E. over a false allegation of fraud; and Jodi Magi, who was jailed and then deported for posting a picture of a badly-parked car on Facebook.
In conjunction with the commemoration of the United Nations’ International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30, the writers urge their respective countries to protect the safety of their citizens by doing the following:
· Updating travel advisories and alerts to warn citizens of the significant risk of indefinite, incommunicado detention without appeal, the denial of due process including the right to legal representation or a fair trial, and the risk of physical abuse and torture by UAE security officials.
· Imposing visa bans on UAE officials who have been complicit in human rights violations, based on established precedent for this action and to deter future abuses.
“The UAE justice system deprived us of liberty without justification, subjected us to harm, and kept us hostage from our families, our lives, and our livelihoods with no restriction or accountability,” the writers said adding, “The personal safety of all those traveling to and residing in the UAE is at serious and increasing risk from the actions of officials in the UAE justice system.”
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