The United Arab Emirates has transferred terrorism suspects from Yemen to a secret prison in Assab, Eritrea, according to former detainees and Yemeni officials.
The facility on the Red Sea coast is part of a regional network of prisons in which torture and abuse are rampant, independent investigations by the Associated Press and Human Rights Watch have revealed.
Kristine Beckerle, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, says the UAE and its Yemeni partners view the prisoners as “high-value terrorism suspects [who] are accused of a variety of things related to the UAE efforts against al-Qaida in Yemen.”
During a six-month period, HRW researchers visited Yemen to document abuses against detainees.
Beckerle’s team discovered some prisoners had been taken to Assab, where the UAE has operated a military base for nearly two years. She said certain details, including how many prisoners the UAE is holding in Eritrea, are difficult to verify due to lack of access to the facilities and denials by UAE and Eritrean officials.
“There’s been absolutely no transparency or communication either with the families or with independent monitors,” she told VOA. “We’ve got a whole bunch of prisons that nobody has access to, other than the forces that are running them and detainees that are in them.”
Without direct access, HRW relied on interviews with former detainees, family members, lawyers and Yemeni officials. The Associated Press employed similar methods and reached the same conclusions about the scope of the network, the treatment of detainees and the use of the facility in Assab.
Allegations of torture, abuse
Since March 2015, the UAE has been part of a coalition led by Saudi Arabia to defeat Houthi rebels in Yemen. The coalition has also sought to decimate al-Qaida’s Yemen branch.
But HRW says the coalition’s efforts have a dark side. It accused the UAE of torturing prisoners at informal detention facilities in Yemen and isolating them from the outside world.
The organization documented 49 people including four children who were detained or forcibly disappeared, and says 38 were arrested by security forces backed by the UAE.
Family members of detainees told HRW that their relatives were subjected to beatings with fists or metal objects, electric shocks, canings, forced nudity and threats to family members.
“The UAE was backing Yemeni forces who were implicated in a lot of these abuses,” Beckerle said. “And the UAE itself was involved in these detention campaigns, including running some informal detention facilities, and ordering continued detention of people despite release orders, and transferring people potentially out of Yemen to different places for detention.”
Reached by phone, Eritrea’s Minister of Information, Yemane Gebremeskel, denied the accusations and referred to a Twitter message in which he called the reports “patently false.”
Source ( VOA)
Tags: Assab, Erteria, Red sea, UAE, Yemen
This post was written by ETW