Cat Le-Huy: People enter the legal system and just disappear

Share
Related Topics

I arrived in Dubai on 26 January 2008. I was there to visit a friend and, like too many visitors to the city, I was naïve. I travelled light and was looking forward to the beautiful weather and sandy beaches. What I found was very different.

Passing through Dubai International Airport, as thousands of other Brits do every week, a guard pulled me out of the passport line. He looked through my bag where he found some melatonin tablets. Melatonin is a legal health supplement which is used to combat the effects of jet lag. It's available over the counter in the United Arab Emirates.

The guard said the tablets were heroin. He then went through the rest of my bag and claimed to find 0.06 grams of hash, which would be lighter than a grain of sugar.

I spent 24 hours in holding cells at the airport, 12 of which were in solitary confinement. The walls of that cell were covered in dried blood and I was denied food and water. Eventually I was thrown into the airport detention centre. This was an open prison which resembled a really bad hostel. There were six men to a cell. We were often woken in the night for "cell inspections". One British inmate had pneumonia but was made to stand in the freezing cold.

We were just waiting to be processed. After 10 days in the airport detention centre I was told I was being sent home, but I was just being moved to an "outhouse" of the Dubai central prison, Al Wathba.

Although I never felt threatened by violence my health was a concern. There were two hepatitis cases, and one inmate contracted Aids. Food poisoning was also a danger.

When I was released – without charge – I had spent just over two months in Dubai. And I was one of the lucky ones. One of the sad things about Lee Brown's case is that it isn't an isolated incident.

The West has spent a lot of money wooing Dubai and its seemingly Western luxury. But its legal system is dangerously flawed. Because there is no accountability, people can enter the system to be "processed" and simply disappear.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world