UK parliamentarians urge United Arab Emirates investigation into alleged violation of human rights

On 4 May, Alia Abdulnoor passed away in hospital in the UAE after a lengthy battle with breast cancer, which resurfaced shortly after her arrest in 2015 (Report,, 26 July). According to reliable sources, up until her death she did not receive adequate medical care to treat her illness and was reportedly forced to sign a document stating that she had refused chemotherapy. In the last months of her life, the UAE ignored calls from the UN to grant her early release on medical grounds. Instead, Alia died in inhumane conditions, shackled to a hospital bed, in a windowless room without ventilation. In past statements, both UN and EU representatives appear to have been satisfied that there is credible evidence that human rights violations occurred in her case. A UN spokesperson recently said her detention conditions “could amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.

Despite being diagnosed with breast cancer just a month into her arrest, Alia was repeatedly denied access to adequate medical care and was only transferred to a hospital over a year after the diagnosis. She also suffered physical abuse at the hands of prison warders, according to testimonies of fellow inmates. Alia was finally convicted in 2017 for terrorism and sentenced to 10 years in prison in a case Human Rights Watch has described as marred by due process violations.

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