For many around the world, the UAE conjures up images of tall futuristic buildings, seven star hotels and oversized shopping complexes. However, behind the glamorous façade and expensive PR campaign, there lies an increasingly authoritarian police state that contrasts greatly the flamboyant image it likes to project.
On 20 January this year, the HuffPost UK published a Blog Post by Rori Donaghy (Director at the Emirates Centre for Human Rights) headed "British Victim of Domestic Abuse Faces Prison in the UAE". The post recorded the travails experienced under the Emirati legal system by Afsana Lachaux, a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin, in connection with a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband over their three-year-old son. The HuffPost UK has received a complaint about this post from Afsana's ex-husband, and we accept that the post might fairly be criticised for conveying a one-sided impression of the couple's dispute; it could have been made clearer that Afsana's allegations of domestic abuse were denied by her ex-husband. We are happy to put that right, and apologise to him for any embarrassment caused.
An Emirati man has gone on trial accused of insulting a colleague with a "gay" handshake, on Tuesday. Dubai Court of Misdemeanors was told a 39-year-old Emirati man shook "the victim's" palm whilst tingling it with his middle finger. The court was also told by the prosecution that "the gesture was insulting and insinuated the recipient was homosexual."
A 56-year-old Indian man is facing the death penalty in Abu Dhabi for a crime he says he did not commit. Abandoned by his Embassy and former colleagues, Ezhur Gangadharan is in a desperate place. On 11 November he will appeal his conviction and his only hope is that support from the international community will pressure authorities into reviewing his case.
Over the past year there have been a number of allegations in the UAE that authorities are torturing prisoners. Defendants in a trial of political dissidents, three Britons held in Dubai and two Syrians have come out to say they have been tortured. Now, smuggled handwritten letters by Egyptian prisoners facing trial over alleged Muslim Brotherhood links say that they have been tortured as well.