12 May, 2009

Torture and "personal disputes"

A member of the royal family in UAE has been "detained" after a chocking video revealed his active involvement in brutal torture, HRW reports:
UAE officials told American diplomats that the sheikh was put under "house arrest" this week and prevented from leaving the country as the ministry of Justice conducts a criminal investigation of the incidents on the videotape, ABC News reported today. /---/ The United Arab Emirates announced on April 29 that the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department would conduct an expeditious and
"comprehensive review" of the torture incident. /---/ Previously, the Ministry of Interior had characterized the abuse as an assault that the parties subsequently settled "privately".
The torture victim is reported to have owed the sheikh some money for a missing shipment of grain. This reminds me of another recent example, where an Egyptian police major was sentenced to one year in jail for forging police and medical reports to cover up the fact that he and his friend - a member of the NDP - poured gasoline over a carpenter and set him on fire, causing death (as I understand it the trial for the actual murder has not yet started). As in the UAE royal torture case, the poor man apparently owed one of the perpetrators some money.

In fact, this seem to be the standard cause of much of the torture and abuse going around nowadays - it's mostly not about "suspected terrorists" or even political opponents, but just ordinary people unfortunate enough to enter business deals with or borrowing money from the wrong crowd (in some countries it's the mafia you should avoid, in this region this piece of advice seem to apply also to members of the ruling party or the royal family.)

It's probably not a coincidence, by the way, that the few exceptional cases that becomes public like this tend to involve "personal disputes" or ordinary police torturing ordinary citizens. State security officers tormenting political prisoners remain beyond the reach of the law, of course.

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