By John Ikani
Amnesty International (AI) has condemned the United Arab Emirates (UAE) treatment of Black Africans in strong terms.
In a statement, AI said on the night of June 22 and 25, police in Abu Dhabi broke into the homes of hundreds of migrant workers as they slept, targeting Black Africans in racially motivated arrests.
The workers were also reported to be detained for weeks in al-Wathba prison and subsequently deported without due process by the UAE Government.
In detention, the authorities subjected them to inhuman and degrading treatment and stripped them of nearly all their belongings.
AI said at no stage did UAE authorities afford those deported any form of due process or the opportunity to challenge their detention or deportation order.
In September, AI interacted with 18 victims of the raids and deportations, comprising 11 Cameroonians, 5 Nigerians, 1 Ugandan, and 1 Ghanaian – 8 women and 10 men.
The raids targeted Black Africans in hundreds of flats in al-Wathba. The few Asian nationals arrested with them were taken because they happened to be living in the same flats as Africans.
AI noted that the arrests and subsequent interrogations presented a consistent pattern of racially motivated, arbitrary arrests followed by incommunicado detention for weeks on end in inhumane, overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, followed by arbitrary deportation.
After news of the deportations, the UAE’s Ministry of Interior, on September 3, explained that the arrests “involving 376 women and men were carried out as part of legal procedures to address crimes related to human trafficking”.
AI quoted the UAE as saying: “Those arrested were found to be involved in these crimes, as the UAE was proactive in enacting a comprehensive law to combat human trafficking and preserve the rights of all groups of society in a way that protects victims and punishes violators of their rights while deterring those who commit such crimes.”
This also carries the risk of forcibly returning individuals to a country where they face the risk of serious human rights violations, in other words refoulement, hence an additional risk of serious human rights violation.
Amnesty International called on the UAE to “immediately halt racially motivated detentions and deportations and to urgently provide restitution to the hundreds of African nationals detained and deported in the operation launched on the morning of 25 June 2021”.
The rights organizations stressed that racially driven raids and mass detentions are not in line with global agreement on human rights protection.