Queen dragged into Dubai torture row
The Queen was being dragged into a row about the alleged torture of British citizens in Dubai today, as a visit by the president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coincided with a guilty verdict for the men.
Grant Cameron, Suneet Jeerh and Karl Williams were jailed for four years for possessing the synthetic cannabis known as spice. The three men allege they faced severe torture and an unfair judicial process.
Prime minister David Cameron has promised to raise the case when he visits Dubai on a state visit.
"The prime minister's concern is welcome, but it is hard to see how a state visit is appropriate for the president of a country which has tortured our own citizens," Reprieve investigator Kate Higham said.
"At the very least, the mistreatment of these three men must be a central issue for discussion during the visit.
"If the UAE is allowed to torture our citizens with impunity, the British public will rightly wonder just what the point of close relations with the Emiratis is."
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, one of the wealthiest monarchs in the world, arrives at Windsor Castle on Tuesday where he is due to enjoy a state carriage procession to Windsor castle, a royal banquet and a private meeting with Cameron and the Prince of Wales over a three-day visit.
It comes after a trip by Boris Johnson, who branded the British capital "the eighth emirate".
But the London mayor refused to bring up human rights concerns with his hosts, saying he opposed “megaphone diplomacy”.
The pomp and wealth on show at the various visits is a far cry from the treatment alleged by the three British men in Dubai nine months ago.
Williams described how he was tortured in the desert and then in a hotel.
"I remember that the police put a towel on my face so I could not see," he said.
"They kept telling me I was going to die. I was so scared.
"Once I had been knocked to the ground, the police picked me up and put me on the bed. They pulled down my trousers, spread my legs and started to electrocute my testicles. It was unbelievably painful.
"Then they took off the towel and I could see that there was a gun pointed at my head. All I could think was that the gun in my face could go off if the policeman slipped, and it would kill me.
"I started to believe that I was going to die in that room."
The three men pleaded not guilty to the charges but they signed documents in Arabic – a language none of them understands – after the torture.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We are concerned about aspects of this and are formally raising these with the Emirati authorities."
Dubai is a popular destination for holidaymakers and businesspeople but it is subject to persistent complaints about human rights, not least in the case of the 250,000 foreign labourers in the city who live in conditions described by Human Rights Watch as being "less than human".