The Gulf — [Mr David Nuttall in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 9:50 am on 4th May 2016.

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Photo of Andrew Slaughter Andrew Slaughter Shadow Minister (Justice) 9:50 am, 4th May 2016

I think you will forgive me, Mr Nuttall, if I do not stray into talking about Bloody Sunday this morning. The hon. Gentleman will have the opportunity to make his points in his own way. I am simply setting out these matters, perhaps as a correction to others that will be raised this morning, and I think that is perfectly legitimate and reasonable. Of course we must have a relationship with countries overseas whose human rights records do not match our own, and of which we perhaps do not expect exactly the same standards. However, if the hon. Gentleman is saying we should not raise the issues, I cannot entirely agree with him.

To deal briefly with the UAE, the recent case of David Haigh, the former Leeds United managing director—[Interruption.] I am being heckled because I am taking some time. I will take a little more time. I said I would not speak for a long time, Mr Nuttall, but if I continue to be interrupted, perhaps I shall speak for rather longer. We will see where that goes. I think, particularly given that the Foreign Office did not address the matter in its human rights report, that it is worth putting it on record. Again, I will simply read some headlines. The first is from The Law Society Gazette: “Solicitor claims he was tortured in Dubai jail”. Another headline reads: “Businessmen held in UAE were tortured into confessions, says UN report”. I have mentioned the number of British nationals—37 in the last five years—who have made allegations of torture or mistreatment in detention in the UAE and the fact that there are 27 such detainees there at the moment.

I recently asked the Minister the following questions. Will the Prime Minister review the UK’s special relationship with the UAE in the light of the report by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention calling on the UAE to release several foreign nationals, including from Canada and the US, who it says have been detained arbitrarily, tortured and forced to sign confessions? Will the Government confirm that no further Arab Partnership Participation Fund moneys will be allocated to the UAE by the Foreign Office until a review has been conducted in the light of the recent statement by UN special rapporteur on torture, Professor Juan E. Méndez? His office has received credible information that detainees were tortured and forced to sign confessions, and his request for a country visit to the UAE is outstanding.

I mentioned David Haigh, a former managing director of Leeds United who I think is a member of the Conservative party. He was recently released from a UAE prison and, on returning to the UK, said that he had suffered ill treatment and abuse:

“I was punched around, I was hit, I was tasered. People attempted to sexually abuse me. I now have a problem with my eyes. You are constantly kept in the dark…it damages your eyes.”

He was imprisoned, incidentally, under the cybercrimes law—a particularly Orwellian statute that criminalises electronic abuse. There are well-documented incidents of human rights violations in the UAE.