Middle East

UN calls on UAE to release British man imprisoned in Dubai since 2008

UN officials have called on the United Arab Emirates to immediately release a British businessman who has been detained in the country since 2008.

The UN’s working group on arbitrary detention has ruled that Ryan Cornelius has been held arbitrarily in the UAE since 2008 when he was arrested at Dubai airport. He has contracted tuberculosis while in detention.

The 68-year-old’s lawyers say he was subjected to a number of human rights violations, including prolonged periods of solitary confinement and aggressive interrogations without legal representation, before being charged with fraud in 2010 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Two months before his release date in March 2018, he was served with a new additional sentence of 20 years based on UAE legislation that was brought in after his initial sentencing.

The UN working group has condemned the fundamental rights violations inflicted by the UAE authorities on Cornelius and is calling for his immediate release, with reparations paid for his suffering, in line with international law. It has demanded that the UAE opens an investigation into Cornelius’s detention.

Cornelius was arrested and detained following complicated business dealings involving powerful Emirati individuals.

The UN working group’s ruling states that Ryan’s human rights were violated both in his initial arrest and in the subsequent legal proceedings, constituting arbitrary detention.

It expresses concern about Cornelius’s deteriorating health and calls explicitly for the UAE to immediately release him so that he can seek medical treatment for his tuberculosis.

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Ryan’s legal representative, Rhys Davies, said: “The mistreatment that Ryan has been subjected to by the authorities in the UAE shows a flagrant disregard for fundamental human rights. The FCDO cannot continue to ignore its duty to defend the rights of British citizens abroad. Mr Cornelius has been held arbitrarily for far too long and needs to be brought home to his family immediately.”

Ryan’s wife, Heather Cornelius, said: “The results of this UN ruling are undeniable – my husband’s basic rights have been violated for so many years and it is right that he is released urgently. All our pleas to the FCDO have been ignored. I am now imploring them to act on this official ruling from the UN and bring my husband home.”


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