While Johnson and UK's Ambassador to the UAE, Patrick Moody, focus on increased energy production,
FCDO failure in Albert Douglas case
27 March 2022
Grandfather Albert Douglas has been held as an economic hostage in Dubai. He has been beaten, tortured and denied his medication, but the FCDO says “torture in itself is not grounds for a clemency application”.
The UK claimed Albert was their “top diplomatic priority” but the frail grandfather who is currently living in prison with broken bones has seen no change in his situation. “Yes, Dubai medics have confirmed that he was beaten and that he suffers permanent disability as a result” Albert’s son Wolfgang explains, “he has been seen by someone claiming to be a Dubai human rights officer but how does this help him? He’s still in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, is still living with broken bones as a result of being beaten by guards and there is no clear path to his release. This is insufficient and the British government must do more to help him”.
With dwindling diplomatic influence in the region, the UK seems apprehensive to ask the UAE to seriously look into Albert’s case or that of other citizens who have been unfairly detained. They appear to be completely neglecting opportunities to diplomatically discuss a resolution while opting to negotiate energy deals. “To be clear”, says Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, “these are not cases of British nationals breaking the law and suffering the consequences. These are cases where citizens have been scapegoated or wrongfully convicted and where the evidence has been ignored by the haphazard justice system of Dubai. The victims of this injustice are then maltreated, abused and subjected to human rights violations and torture. This should be intolerable to the United Kingdom”.
The Foreign Office has come under fire over the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt calling for an investigation into their inefficiencies, but Nazanin’s case was far more complex to solve. She was accused of being a spy and held by a non-allied country whom we owed a debt to. Her case was resolved after six year’s detention, the payment of a large debt and a prisoner exchange. Stirling continued, “If the UK can resolve a complex case like Nazanin’s, but can not resolve fairly simple cases of injustice with long term allies like the UAE, then we have to question what their vested interests are. How can the British government allow an allied government to torture citizens and keep them in prison?”
Wolfgang Douglas has made a data protection request to the FCDO and is considering legal action. “My father has been living in prison for almost a year after being violently assaulted by prison guards. I am fully aware of what happened to Lee Bradley Brown and live in worry every day that I will never see my father again. He has been living in pain and with broken bones since the attack. I have told the FCDO over and over again but most of the time, they avoid calls, ignore emails and give conflicting information. On numerous occasions, they wrongfully reported my father had received medical treatment. They just report whatever the Dubai authorities tell them. They have allegedly forwarded a clemency request for Albert to be ‘pardoned’ which is ridiculous in itself since he is innocent but they wouldn’t ‘endorse’ it because torture is not in itself, sufficient for them to do so. They requested a lawyer to make a statement confirming that it was a miscarriage of justice but that is a criminal offence as lawyers are not allowed to criticise or diminish the government or judiciary. If they did, they would end up deported or in jail like Ahmed Mansoor. It is absurd that the FCDO would ask for an impossible document from countries where lawyers would be put at risk themselves.
“Forensic experts have already confirmed that my father did not write the cheque for which he is in prison. He is innocent but his life has been turned upside down, his assets and everything he has worked for has been looted and he now suffers permanent disability and PTSD. Even if he is released now, he is not the same person. He will never be the same”.