Friday, January 8, 2016

Canadian imprisoned in UAE since 2014 appears to have been tortured

A Canadian businessman Salim Alaradi imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since August of 2014 appears to have been tortured. Canadian officials saw the evidence of the torture during a consular visit in January of 2015.

Alaradi has been imprisoned without charge in the UAE since being arrested in August of 2014. The family shared the evidence that Alaradi was tortured with Amnesty International. The evidence viewed by The Globe and Mail showed torture marks on Alaradi's body that were apparently observed and documented during the January 2014 Canadian consular visit. Alex Neve of Amnesty International said:
 “We’ve now seen evidence that makes it very clear that Salim has indeed been subjected to torture. It gives rise to a very strong indication that Canadian officials have been aware of the torture and ill treatment he’s been through since [last] January.”
The Alaradi family said consular officials did inform them about general health concerns they had about Alaradi but they made no mention of torture. While the family wished to bring the case to public attention they did not want to go into details due to fear for Alaradi's safety. There is a website on Facebook devoted to having Alaradi freed.
Alaradi has now been in custody 17 months without being charged. His family live in Windsor, Ontario. In September, they hired Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ to assist them in having Alaradi released and returned to Canada.Champ claims that the Canadian government knew that Alaradi was tortured but did not tell the family until he became involved in the case. Champ said:
"In some cases, the Department [of Foreign Affairs] will try to suggest that there's privacy issues, but this isn't the kind of information that they should be withholding, in my opinion. Although it's very difficult information, it's information that, in my opinion, a family deserves to know."
The Globe and Mail reported that a representative of the Department of Foreign Affairs acknowledged Alaradi's case but would not comment on whether the torture allegations were credible.
Alaradi was one of 10 businessmen of Libya origin who were arrested between August and September of 2014 by officers of UAE state security. The UAE is a strong supporter of the internationally-recognized House of Representatives(HoR) government in eastern Libya and of their CIA-linked armed forces commander General Khalifa Haftar. They oppose the rival government in Tripoli. The UAE may have been trying to recruit business people with connections to the Tripoli-controlled area as spies. Recently, a UAE national was arrested by the Tripoli government on charges of spying. Alaradi was not the only Canadian arrested.
Refat Hadagha, a 47-year-old former resident of Surrey, B.C. claims also to have been detained. In an interview from Istanbul Turkey by phone he said: “I don’t know why I was kidnapped, why I was tortured, why I was released.” He said judging by his own experiences Alaradi was also probably tortured.
Alaradi and his brother Mohamed ran a home-appliance business in Dubai. On being arrested they were interrogated about different Libyan political groups. The Alaradi family claims their father does not belong to any political group. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Forced Disappearance has asked to visit Libyan detainees and investigate accusations of torture.
Alaradi's brother Mohamed along with Hadagha and 2 others began to speak out about their mistreatment after they were arbitrarily released from Abu Dhabi prison. They were released and deported to Turkey without any explanation in December of 2014. Mohamed said: “I could hear my brother’s screams. UAE Security would say, ‘Do you hear these sounds? We’re beating your brother while he’s hanging from the ceiling.’”Mohamed was held in solitary confinement for months and claims he was tortured. He has been working along with his brother's family to secure Salim's freedom. Mohamed thinks that he and the others were released because their torture marks were healed and virtually disappeared.
Mohamed and three others were released and deported to Turkey for reasons unknown in December, 2014. No charges were ever laid. In an interview, Mohamed said he suspects they were released because their torture marks had healed and disappeared by that point, leaving no evidence of the abuse. Alex Neve of Amnesty International was critical of the Canadian government: “Given the amount of time that has passed and the direct information Canadian officials had, this case should have been lodged at the highest levels of the Canadian government and become a preoccupying concern for the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister."
The family lawyer, Paul Champ, said that consular visits have gone from three during the first year of Alaradi's incarceration to almost weekly since mid-October.The website of Canada's embassy to the UAE claims that Canada's excellent relations with the UAE are "founded upon substantial commercial ties and mutual goals of peace and prosperity". What's a little torture here and there compared to the importance of maintaining trade and good relations?

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