19 March, 2008

Le-Huy on Al Wathba prison

Al Wathba prison has long been regarded as a bad prison (unforunately, uaeprison.com is against the moral, social, economic and ignorance-is-bliss values of the UAE, so anyone on Etisalat may aswell go stare at a wall for a few hours)

Recently Cat Le-Huy, who was arrested and subsequently pardoned for having 0.03 grams of hashish was pardoned and deported; but not before sharing a cell with DJ Grooverider for an amount of time in Al Wathba prison... His description is quite revealing.

"Mr Le-Huy was held in the airport detention facility in Dubai and later the Al Wathba prison where he shared a cell with Radio 1 DJ Grooverider, who was convicted to four years in jail for carrying a small amount of cannabis on February 19.

In both he met a large number of European residents, who also claim to have been wrongfully imprisoned, including three others from the Belsize and Swiss Cottage area.

"A very small percentage of them were guilty of trying to bring something across but by and large they were innocent. These people are sitting in a foreign prison and are losing things in their life like their jobs or mortgages. During the Dubai shopping festival we were getting about nine foreign nationals sent in every day.

"Most others weren't serious criminals, but one was a paedophile, which was particularly nasty. We had a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old put in the prison as well and they weren't kept separate from him. We took care of them but one night he kicked down the door of another guy's cell - it was pretty disturbing."

The men were also being held in unsanitary conditions, according to Mr Le-Huy, which made health problems a growing problem.

Mr Le-Huy continued: "There was a hepatitis and HIV scare at the detention centre.

"You get tested when you arrive and there were three men found positive, but it took the guards to sort out who they were and move them.

"There was also some drugging. One guy came in he was screaming all day and all night and kept everyone up. He would just lie in the middle of his urine and faeces. They put him in solitary but he got better and said he had been injected by guards.

"Another guy came in with the same thing - we fed him food and water through the bars, but he didn't improve.

"The bathrooms were absolutely filthy - the toilets were overflowing. There was a Salmonella outbreak, but the prison denied it was happening."

His final say on the situation sounds like a pretty good suggestion...
"Mr Le-Huy is now supporting the campaigns to free others he met there and hopes pressure will build on the country to change its legal system.

"You have to be level-headed about things," he said. "There will be cases of people wrongly imprisoned in any judicial system, but if you give an unbiased system, which allows representation, it will limit it. Dubai has a promising future if it can maintain its Islamic views, while also bringing in some sort of representative justice system. It has to realise what it is putting people through - something needs to change."

more here


Anonymous said...

How does he know who is innocent and who is not...just because somebody said they are innocent does not mean they are.
I am sure there are some innocent people in prison, just ike any other prison in the world, that does not make al Wathba prison any different.
With regards to the druggy who got a "needle", the needle could be some kind of treatment or medicine to help with withdrawl...
Drug laws are different in different part of the world, I think anybody thinking of stepping to a foreign land with drugs, should have the sense to do some research beforehand.
Also, try to get both sides story before calling it injustice...
Finally..prison is not ment to be for relaxation and enjoyment...it is a punishment.

muhahahaha said...

How do you know that those people are not innocent. Considering the stellar example that the UAE legal system is, I wouldn't be surprised if at least half the number of people in that prison are actually innocent of the crimes they are in for.

In any case, no civilised society should treat people they way they are treated in Al Wathba. Oh but i said civilised. Okay, you're excused!

samuraisam said...

anonymous @ 03:15: if Al Wathba is really not that nasty, explain the number of people who've cited it as being completely terrible...
and most imporantly...
explain why the site www.uaeprison.com is blocked -- that essentially proves the prison is shit and that the government is embarassed.

Spectrum said...

That is a prison, So I'm not surprised!

innocent everywhere e.g. Guantanamo prison or "Prison Break"(LoooL), are all prisoners there terrorist?

I disagree to imprison ppl for small cannabises but it is hard to recognize a n innocent from criminals.

UAE is not perfect but the good thing it is improving

Lirun said...

how terrifying

Assistant Editor said...

I have never been in Al Wathba prison, but being well aware of the customs in the country can tell you that this is at least 50 % fictional story. The Arabs usually keep much cleaner surroundings than the Westerners. And also 17 years old are dealt with by the Juvenal Court and kept in Juvenal's detention units.
Also I noticed on several occasions that the same author is mentioning the same prison quite persistently....at least in the past 6-8 months....

ali900 said...

well i just think its really hyped up from his view - its a jail... DONT end up there and your good!

samuraisam said...

Al Wathba prison has a reputation; ask people in the UAE who know about the police/prisons and they'll mention a horrid prison in the middle of the desert in Abu Dhabi.

If you want to hold a different view then go ahead-- but please, entertain me, and try and explain why www.uaeprison.com is blocked in the UAE?
Explain the numerous accounts from people over the years who've had to endure Al Wathba? I suppose they're all lying and are fabricating 50% of their stories?

I suppose the customs of the country also mean that it's impossible prostitution could exist?

Have you actually read anything about Al Wathba?

There even now exists a book dedicated to someone's wonderful experience of Al Wathba.

The following part of your comment is absolutely priceless:
"I have never been in Al Wathba prison, but being well aware of the customs in the country can tell you that this is at least 50 % fictional story. The Arabs usually keep much cleaner surroundings than the Westerners."
Nice that the tourist brochures are allowing you to form such a valuable opinion.

Anonymous said...

"The Al Wathba Central Prison is a big facility spread over many acres. There are plush offices, reception area, staff quarters and well-kept jails for all to see.

However there is a compound which houses the torture chamber, the detention center and the execution arena. The compound is enclosed by huge steel girders and high walls and no outsider ever strays here.

In this compound there are 10 special blocks meant to detain the Third World country people and hard-core criminals. The prisoners here have no rights and are entirely at the mercy of policemen who guard them.

There are about 21 small cells resembling 'concrete cages' in each block where about 200 prisoners are held.

Prisoners are brought to these cells are tonsured, given two course jail suits, two blankets, a plastic cup and a plate each. All personal belongings, including clothes, are confiscated at the entrance and no other stationery is provided.

Hard-core criminals - even those against whom there are Black Warrants are given a better deal. They get toothbrushes, paper and pen. "Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani dogs." As the other detenues are called by the policemen, are never granted such luxuries. And only they are called for cleaning duties.

In the morning prisoners get a glass of tea, a slice of bread with a trickle of jam or a film of cheese. At lunch they are provided rice with a piece of camel meat. Dinner at 8'O clock is a slice of bread, dal (lentil) and a glass of black tea.

Prisoners in each block have six latrines and three bathrooms to use. Because the taps often run dry and the toilets are clogged most of the time, 200 prisoners more or less end up using one or two latrines.

Prisoners are regularly flogged on one pretext or the other and those resorting to hunger strikes are administered 10 "major flogs".

Medical facility too are extended to Arabs only. Other detenues who fall sick are left untreated. Power supply to the cells is controlled by guards on sentry duty. For weeks on end they turn off the power, leaving the prisoners to suffer in darkness."
from the site that is blocked.

LOve the way the guys described the food...doesn't seem bad for a prison. "trickle of jam, a film of cheese". No wonder they got blocked.

Lirun, I've heard worse stories from prisoners who say they were innocent in prisons in your "home land" so don't be too surprised...at least those who talked about it, came on t.v many many years later to tell the story and put a face to it.

Lirun said...


are you in a state of war with england?

B.D. said...

Prison has to be among the worst trials a human being can face--along the lines of a terribly debilitating or terminal disease. We all should be concerned that the innocent are not unjutly incarcerated and that even those who are justly arrested should not have to endure inhumane treatment.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Well.. prisons are not pleasant places. This story could be true and could be not. Al Wathba prison could be improvable and could be not. There is nothing solid in the story.

Most of the people there are innocent? How could he tell? Innocence must have been dripping off their faces?… yeah right…

Through my extensive daily interaction with locals and expats, I have not really heard ANYTHING extraordinary about the prisons in the UAE. But then most of my acquaintances are the 'innocent' type, there've probably never been to a police station in their life.

Why the uaeprisons.com is blocked? Probably for a good reason? Probably not? How can you tell when you can't read it? How can you make sure that it's not another venue to smear the UAE?

And then you've got someone from a state notorious for its prison and the perks that come along with it (incommunicado, lack of legal presentation, torture, snitches …etc…) exclaiming "how horrible"(!)...me thinks this is the epitome of hypocrisy…

But then I might be right, or might not….

Anonymous said...

DJ the video you added to your blog needs to be made public. How many of these soldiers are messing with Iraqis. Those are criminals and psychopaths.
After seeing this, I will find it difficult to feel sorry for anybody who get bombed their.

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Anon, it's already public.

UAE ALIAS said...

Oh yeah we all know that Al Wathba is the toughest prison in UAE. Yet, Come On it's better than many prisons around the world. USA for example has Guantanamo and many other prisons in other countries not to abide by the American rules of prisoners rights which makes me SICK. Moreover, if you follow the rules of the country you are staying at you won't go to any Wathba prison! Cannabis, Hasheesh and their sisters aren't allowed in this country so if you wanna be a jackass and take them with you to the airport you gotta pay whoever you are! Many are not minding the money the are making here but when it comes to show some respect to the country they fail and bang go to Wathba jail... Makes sense to me!

Anonymous said...

What is the main purpose behind setting up prisons? Why are people symapthetic with the criminals? Should jails be built & furnished like five star hotels or what?

Anonymous said...

Should jails be built & furnished like five star hotels or what?

Not a bad idea ;)

Isn't Dubai setting a trend in the hospitality sector ;)

DUBAI JAZZ said...

Dubai Guy my friend;
I think the purpose of incarceration is to deprive the suspect/convict from his freedom for a certain period of time, not to humiliate him. Minimal living standards should be provided in all jails. If you don't provide them, you get a high chance that prisoners will feel grudge toward the system and they won't rehabilitate.

Having said that, I am not suggesting that what the article says is 100% correct, but it doesn't hurt to have a look!

Anonymous said...

Funny how:

1) Having 1 g of cannabis should put you in jail


2) Using a prostitute shouldnt put you in Wathba if you are a tourist

samuraisam said...

Part of the problem comes in the fact that many (not sure if it is most) expatriates will be deported after serving their time in prison-- this means any effort to rehabilitate criminals is a waste in the eyes of the government (and any government in a similar situation) which is fair enough, but I'm pretty sure they could spend a minimum of money and make Al Wathba and other prisons somewhat less-worse than they are.

People here are comparing Al Wathba with Guantanamo; The US recieves a lot of flac over Guantanamo-- the same eyes criticize the US government for Guantanamo as are criticizing the UAE government for Al Wathba (for instance a very large human rights organisation was reading this very page yesterday, and I'm pretty sure your 'look at Guantanamo!' tactic didn't thwart them).

dubai jazz: "Why the uaeprisons.com is blocked? Probably for a good reason? Probably not? How can you tell when you can't read it? How can you make sure that it's not another venue to smear the UAE?"
If the UAE government disagrees with a report on something they usually formulate a response through the local newspapers, I haven't read one on Al Wathba yet.

Interestingly enough... In today's paper; is a change on the horizon?

Anonymous said...

So many people seem to have a problem with prisons in the UAE.

Some of you haven't seen how they treat criminals in China and Thailand.

If you weigh 90kg and end up in their prisons, expect to come out with atleast 45kg of fats burned.

Prison = 5-Star Hell

Enough said...

Lirun said...

dubai jazz..


so now im not allowed to have an opinion or an emotion? come on' dude.. cut me some slack.. im not my country's ministry of foreign of affairs rep.. i am an individual.. try being nice.. its very gratifying..

DUBAI JAZZ said...

try being nice.. its very gratifying..

Haval, being nice to you doesn't often pay off..(collectively speaking..)

Lirun said...

ur behaviour to me is haram

Anonymous said...

lirun u do not need "some slack" from people like dubai jazz. u are who u are. thank u for trying to reach across. our country and the world need more people who like u who can reach across.

christinefp@hotmail.com said...

I am Brazilian and my husband is trapped in the Al Wathba has seven months. He was accused of a crime it did not commit. The police arrested the Dubai, where he was sleeping inside a luxurious hotel.
He cried out for help and calling the police, not knowing that those were the very police. This led to Abu Dhabi without the right to call the embassy or to the family. He was 45 days without communication. He was abducted by police of Arab Emirats. Just knowing it was the reason for 45 days after arrest. There was torture and violence. He lost 10 kg in those months of both suffered.
The prison does not leave the embassy to assist Brazilian, threatening to our government.
Today my husband called me and said that there was a death of a companion him. The boy was Afghan and had no medical help. He was contaminated by food, all prisoners are subject to die by infected food. Or die of hunger or contaminated. The worst is not able to do anything to help.
My husband was convicted without evidence for the prosecution. The cut does not know explain the reason for the arrest.
IN the meantime, I am here in Brazil suffering without power help my beloved husband.

Christine F. said...

Comment on my blog on the case of Brazilian prisoners in Al Wathba please: http://brasileirospresosinjustamenteemdubai.blogspot.com/2008/02/brasileiros-presos-em-dubai.html#links
Thank you!

Anonymous said...


I am an Asian girl.
My sister is now in Dubai Jail.
She is sentenced 14month jail for drunk and having unmarried sex.
Actually she was drunk and raped by her friend.She is now only 19 years old and she was totally unconscious on that day.Dubai court never inform when they will appear on court.After that they straight away sentenced my sister for14 month in the jail.
Pls help me.
Since we are from poor family, we cannot afford to keep a lawyer for her. Pls help me.What can i do?
Pls help me by giving advice or something.
my email is moesatngel@gmail.com

Ryan Rowe said...

Hi there - to the Asian girl whose sister is now in a Dubai jail: I would suggest you contact Amnesty International (http://www.amnesty.org) or Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org).

They sometimes provide lawyers free of charge or at very low cost.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Well, after the torture video, directed by Sh. Issa bin Zaye Al Nahyan, the book: Dubai - The Maktoun Story y John M. Smith is out.

But this time not Sh. Issa is the bad boy but his brother Sh. Saif bin Zayed Al Nayan.

Also a case was filed against him in Europe. Do I have to tell why or what for?

Anonymous said...

To all the critics for or against the prison system in the UAE. One thing everyone should consider in any western civilised country is the fact that you are innocent until its proven you are guilty. In the UAE you are guilty until the courts prove you you are innocent but you are being punished one way or another becuase they put you in jail first

Anonymous said...


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