UAE: The government denies retirement pensions to detainees

On March 2019, the UAE government immediately suspended the retirement pension payments to detainees in al-Razeen prison. The International Centre for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR) was instantly alerted. Such hastily decision is just a fragment of a whole frightening and inhuman puzzle set up systematically by the United Arab officials.

Authorities questioned the retired detainees in al-Razeen to provide valid passports and ID cards in order to allow for their monthly payments to continue, soon after an initial suspension of due payments. Most payments were completely denied due to documents expiring dates, the majority of which outdated during their period of detention. Prisoners’ families rapidly activated to fulfil and submit renewal applications, yet officials still refuse to renew their passports. It is indeed a manifest form of punishment against prisoners and their families.

The withholding process affects directly family members and relatives, since in many cases, pensions constitute the only economical revenues. As it happens in many societies, the male figure is related to the breadwinner role, the sole economic provider for his family. Wives and children totally rely on the retirement pension of their imprisoned husbands or fathers. In addition to that, UAE officials have limited the possibilities of the detainees’ wives for renewing their own identification documents, rejected birth certificates for their children, and endangered them with threats of citizenship removal

The United Arab Emirates is an international habitué to the red list of ill-treatment of prisoners, many of whom are fervent human rights defenders. There are, approximately, over 200 political prisoners being held in UAE prisons for peacefully demonstrating their right to free speech and expression. Al-Razeen Prison is known to be the toughest detention centre in the country. There, prisoners are repetitively targeted with multiple forms of physical and mental torture, such as: isolation, beatings, sexual harassment and mistreatments. With such immeasurable record of human rights violations, it comes as no surprise that UAE authorities have decided to halt retirement pensions.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) condemns the UAE government ban and calls for the immediate release of frozen retirement pensions and to re-establish the decree of legal bureaucratic measures related to citizenship and ID cards. Hoping that the international pressure will turn positively the events, we stand together with all suffering and persecuted prisoners and those who are directly affected by this outrageous illegality.

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