ECHR | Emirates Center for Human Rights

ECHR | Emirates Center for Human Rights
HomeNews I was jailed in Dubai, it's worse than you could possibly imagine, claims Former Dubai Prisoner I was jailed in Dubai, it's worse than you could possibly imagine, claims Former Dubai Prisoner

I was jailed in Dubai, it's worse than you could possibly imagine, claims Former Dubai Prisoner

Writing for the independent David Haigh, a former managing director for Leeds United, exposed the unjust legal system which seeks to discriminate against non-UAE citizens and the brutal prison conditions he was forced to survive in.

Haigh’s expose on the experiences he suffered comes on heels of Scottish expat,  Jamie Harron, who was facing three months in a Dubai prison for the crime of accidentally touching another man’s hip.

While Harron’s exoneration – via a pardon from the Vice President and Prime Minister of United Arab Emirates, and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum – is cause for celebration, Haigh reflects on his own harsh experience of being thrown into a similar condition.

In his article Haigh recounts his time in prison as nothing short of ‘hell’.

During his 22 month stint, Haigh wrote how he would: "never forget it – the stench, the dirt, the smell, the heat, and the lack of any information whatsoever."

He goes on to describe his harrowing experiences of being:" punched, tasered, beaten and raped. The worst of this abuse was perpetrated by the prison guards and police"

Haigh said he lost a considerable amount of weight due to the stress of being in prison and described how one time he was hit over the head with a broom handle by a prison guard after he asked for some painkillers.

He wrote of his ordeal:"When someone’s beating you or hurting you in whatever form, in a weird way you can deal with that.What I found more harrowing was seeing them do it to other prisoners in front of everyone."

He recalls one occasion where a man was brought in from the street, they threw him onto the ground and three guards stood on his neck. The constant abuse and danger he and the inmates endured was unimaginable, he also writes about how young prisoners, ‘young kids’, came in only to be raped.

He adds: "The way they treated people from India and Pakistan was far worse. In that sort of environment, you’re surrounded by the most depraved depths of humanity."

Before his nightmare experience, like anyone going to Dubai, he was lured in by its bright lights and luxurious aesthetic.

Haigh writes: "Like Jamie, I was lured by promises of a cosmopolitan lifestyle in Dubai. For many years, it had been my dream ‘home away from home’ before it turned into the place of my nightmares."

As then-managing director for LUFC, he had been involved in the negotiations to acquire the club from a UAE-based company. However, the deal ‘quickly turned sour’ and the club was forced to take legal action for breach of contract.

It should have been a legal dispute which should have simply been resolved. However, when Haigh got to Dubai he was arrested and charged with ‘fraud and embezzlement’. The company also filed a criminal complaint against him for posting ‘abuse to them on Twitter’ while in jail.

The British Embassy in Dubai was no help either, failing to protect his rights as a British citizen. He even sought help from retired English judges who now worked for the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts.

In the article, he explains how he: "wrote to them on many occasions requesting that my case be heard and pleading with them to help stop the torture and abuse. My complaints fell on deaf ears and I was completely ignored.

"It was only in March of last year, after a six-month trial – and enduring 22 months of hell prior – he was set free."

In the beginning of Haigh’s article, he describes his ‘firsthand experience’ of Dubai’s justice system as ‘vindictive’, ‘unjust’ and ‘weak’.

He goes on to say:" It is a system rampant with corruption, bribery and nepotism, one that discriminates against westerners and especially Brits, and where the detention of a westerner and specifically a Christian seems to be some sort of macabre sport."

Aside from his and Harron’s story, he says he’s seen cases where tourists and expats have been apprehended for holding hands, drinking in public or, in Haigh’s case, using social media – simple misdemeanours which wouldn’t even be considered wrongdoing in other countries.

Haigh concludes that:" Dubai is not a safe place, despite its shiny exterior. Beneath lays a brutal and cold system that is ripe for exploitation by unscrupulous UAE businesses. Mine and Jamie’s are not the only cases.Each case follows a similar pattern: wealthy Emiratis taking advantage of weak laws and corruption, wrongfully extorting civil settlements and stifling any legal threat against them. Dubai is effectively the world’s first corporate jail."


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