[The following press release was issued by the Alkarama Foundation on 4 March 2014]
Jamal Al Hammadi, a teacher of Islamic education from Khor Fakkan abducted on 20 April 2013 by state security services, was last seen 5 February 2014 in Abu Dhabi`s State Security prison. A group of detainees recently transferred from this prison facility reported that Jamal was being detained there in very harsh conditions. Jamal is the brother of Fuad Mohammed Al Hammadi, one of the "UAE94", serving a 10-year sentence in Al-Razeen prison following a grossly unfair trial. "Considering the reports of systematic torture in centres of detention in the UAE, we have great concerns that Mr Al Hammadi`s continued incommunicado detention is being used to dissimulate the torture and ill-treatment he is allegedly being subjected to", said Alkarama. Today, Alkarama sought the urgent intervention of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearance with the Emirati authorities to ensure Mr Al Hammadi is immediately released or at the very least, placed under the protection of the law.
Unlawfully Detained 12 Years Ago
Jamal Al Hammadi was previously arrested by the State Security Services on 11 September 2001 and detained without charge. On 5 November 2004, Alkarama requested the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to intervene and issue an opinion on the arbitrary nature of his detention. On 26 May 2005, the Working Group issued opinion No. 14/2005, finding Mr Al Hammadi`s detention arbitrary, as it was in contravention to article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), following which Mr Al Hammadi was released without any legal proceedings and without receiving any reparation for his arbitrary detention.
However, after his release, Jamal was summoned by the State Security Services for questioning several times, and was constantly harassed by State Security agents by phone prior to his disappearance.
Disappeared on His Way Home
On 20 April 2013, Jamal accompanied his mother for a medical appointment in the neighbouring city of Al Fujairah. He stayed all day with her and, at 5:30 pm, he decided to drive back home, after having asked one of his brother to come and take care of their mother at the Medical Center. It is the last time that Jamal was seen by his relatives.
At 7:30 pm, Jamal Al Hammadi`s wife tried to call her husband without success. From 8:30pm, the phone was switched off and Mr Al Hammadi`s whereabouts have been unknown since then.
Mr Al Hammadi`s family suspected that he had been arrested by the State Security Services, as he had previously been arbitrarily detained by them and constantly harassed since his release. Worried about the repercussions of formal legal action, for example by reporting his disappearance, they attempted to seek information from the authorities on his fate and whereabouts in an informal way, by asking relatives working in the administration if they had any news about Mr Al Hammadi, without success.
Last Seen on 5 February in Abu Dhabi State Security Prison
It was only on 5 February 2014, nine months later, that the family finally obtained new information on Jamal`s whereabouts from a group of detainees. It was in fact Jamal`s sister-in-law who visited her husband Fuad Mohammed Al Hammadi, currently jailed in Al Razeen prison,.
Fuad is currently serving a 10-year sentence in prison following a grossly unfair trial denounced by international NGOs, commonly known as the trial of the "UAE94". During the visit from his wife, Fuad told her that a group of detainees recently transferred from the State Security prison in Abu Dhabi to Al Razeen prison attested beyond any doubt having seen Mr Jamal Al Hammadi in Abu Dhabi`s State Security prison. They described his detention conditions as very harsh. Given this information and reports of the systematic use of torture and ill-treatment in places of detention in the UAE, Alkarama is concerned that Mr Al Hammadi`s continued incommunicado detention is being used to dissimulate the torture and ill-treatment he is allegedly being subjected to.
State Security`s Modus Operandi
The circumstances of Mr Al Hammadi`s disappearance follow the same pattern of arrests by State Security agents in numerous other cases in the United Arab Emirates. People are enforcedly disappeared for months, then reappear and are put on trial for political motives. Detainees are often tortured during the first period of their detention and forced to sign false confessions which are then used against them during unfair trials. Alkarama is extremely concerned about the persistence of this pattern, which underlines the grave degradation of the human rights situation in the country.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Ms Gabriela Knaul declared in a press conference on 5 February 2014 following her recent visit to the United Arab Emirates that she had received "credible information and evidence" that detainees are arrested without warrant, blindfolded, taken to unknown places and held incommunicado, sometimes for months. She also called for the opening of independent investigations into these allegations.
In its General Comment on article 4 of the Declaration for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances, the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances stated that "enforced disappearances occur when persons are arrested, detained or abducted against their will or otherwise deprived of their liberty by officials of different branches or levels of Government (...), followed by a refusal to disclose the fate or whereabouts of the persons concerned or a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of their liberty, which places such persons outside the protection of the law." Consequently Mr Al Hammadi`s situation falls in the scope of this definition and we consider him as a victim of enforced disappearance.
Today, Alkarama solicited the urgent intervention of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances with the Emirati authorities to ensure that Mr Al Hammadi is immediately released or placed under the protection of the law and that his family be informed of Jamal`s fate and whereabouts in the shortest possible delays, and be allowed contact with him.