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UAE soldiers torturing Yemeni prisoners, UN rights office says

Sexual abuse and torture is reportedly used to break inmates held in UAE-run prisons [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 July, 2018

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The UAE has denied UN investigators access to prisons in Yemen where torture and sexual abuse is reportedly rife.
Yemeni detainees have been tortured and sexually abused by Emirati soldiers, the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva has said.

"We have engaged with UAE government on this issue and requested access to UAE-run prisons in the country but to date we have not been granted access," Liz Throssell, UN Human Rights Office spokeswoman told Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency.

"From the initial information that our office in Yemen has managed to gather, we have reason to believe that a number of Yemeni detainees have been subjected to ill-treatment, torture and sexual abuse by UAE soldiers," she said.

The UN Human Rights Office is continuing to monitor the situation with a view to deciding what follow-up steps are needed, she added.

Last month, the Associated Press revealed hundreds of Yemeni prisoners swept up in anti-terror raids by Emirati-backed forces have been subjected to torture and sexual abuse while in detention.

Read more: The UAE In Yemen: With a lot of help from its mercs

Drawings smuggled out of Aden's Beir Ahmed prison show a man hanging naked from chains while he is being subjected to electric shocks, another inmate on the floor surrounded by snarling dogs as several people kick him, and graphic depictions of anal rape.

"The men screamed and wept. Those who resisted were threatened by barking dogs and beaten until they bled," AP reported, after interviewing seven witnesses to the mass abuse.

The UAE, a key US ally, has denied that it controls any prisons in Yemen and said that Yemen's government is in full control.

Yemeni Interior Minister Ahmed al-Maysari has said on previous occasions that he has no control over the prisons and he can't enter Aden without the Emiratis' permission. 

More than 10,000 people have died since a Saudi-led coalition, including the UAE, intervened in Yemen's conflict in March 2015, sending the Arab world's poorest country to the brink of famine.

On Tuesday, the UN's children's agency UNICEF said Yemen had been pushed "deep into the abyss", with 11 million children in Yemen - more than the entire population of Switzerland - needing help getting food, treatment, education, water and sanitation.

"There is no justification for this carnage," said executive director Henriette Fore.

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