Sexual torture of detainees by Emirati officers

sexual torture

The 15 officers who arrived at the prison in southern Yemen hid their faces behind headdresses, but their accents were clearly foreign — from the United Arab Emirates.

They lined up the detainees and ordered them to undress and lie down.

The officers then searched the anal cavity of each prisoner, claiming that they were looking for contraband cellphones.

The men screamed and wept.

Those who resisted were threatened by barking dogs and beaten until they bled.

Hundreds of detainees suffered similar sexual abuse during the event on March 10 at Beir Ahmed prison in the southern city of Aden, according to seven witnesses interviewed by The Associated Press.

Descriptions of the mass abuse offer a window into a world of rampant sexual torture and impunity in UAE-controlled prisons in Yemen.

The UAE is a key U.S. ally whose secret prisons and widespread torture were exposed by an AP investigation last June.

The AP has since identified at least five prisons where security forces use sexual torture to brutalize and break inmates.

Yemen’s war began in 2015, after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels took over much of the country’s north. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are leading a coalition to fight the rebels, but UAE forces have overtaken wide swaths of territory, towns and cities in the south.

The U.S. is backing the coalition with billions of dollars in arms, and partners with the Emiratis in anti-terrorism campaigns.

Emiratis have swept up hundreds of Yemeni men into a network of at least 18 hidden prisons on suspicion of being al-Qaida or Islamic State militants.

The prisoners are held without charges or trials.

The AP first asked the Pentagon about grave rights abuses committed by the UAE one year ago. But despite well-documented reports of torture reported by the AP, human rights groups and even the United Nations, Marine Maj.

Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. has seen no evidence of detainee abuse in Yemen.

Still, he called the allegations “disturbing” and said, “The United States take all allegations of abuse seriously, although we have no substantiating information at this time.”

U.S. officials have acknowledged that American forces receive intelligence from UAE partners and have participated in interrogations in Yemen. But Rankine-Galloway said he could not comment on intelligence sharing with partners. Continue reading

  • Image: AP

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