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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

Brit killed in Dubai police custody would have celebrated birthday today

If the United Arab Emirates really is the fun, safe oasis in the desert it is advertised to be, and which the Foreign Office assures travelers it is; Lee Bradley Brown would be celebrating his 50th birthday today, possibly fondly reminiscing about his vacation to Dubai ten years ago. Instead, Brown’s loved ones will mark the day in mourning, remembering a son, brother, and friend who was brutally killed in an Emirates jail at the age of 39.

Lee Bradley Brown was born in East London on June 18th, 1971 and grew up in Devon. In 2011, like thousands of British citizens, he decided to take a holiday in Dubai. He stayed at the luxurious Burj Al Arab hotel, but had an altercation with a hotel maid that landed him in detention at the Bur Dubai Police Station on charges of using abusive language. Soon afterwards, Brown was dead. The exact circumstances of his death in custody are unknown to this day, with police claiming first that he was assaulted by fellow inmates, and then that his fatal injuries were self-inflicted. CCTV footage of what happened has never been released.

Detained in Dubai founder, Radha Stirling, was contacted by cellmates who witnessed the tragedy and who insisted he died as a result of police brutality but the UAE have refused to cooperate with any investigations into the incident.

In an interview with ITV DayBreak in April 2011, Stirling said “Bur Dubai is notorious for aggression, violence and forced confessions in Arabic. There’s violence from inmates, there’s violence from police”.

“Lee would have celebrated his 50th birthday today”, said Stirling, reflecting on Lee’s death. “Again, we extend our deepest sympathies to his family. This should never have happened and the UAE should have come under more diplomatic pressure than they did. The British government, in essence, let the UAE get away with their abuse. In doing so, they gave authorities the green light to commit further abuses against British citizens and we continually see evidence of this.

FCO warnings to travelers to the UAE remain almost unchanged in the 10 years since Lee’s death; despite countless other incidents of abuse, wrongful arrest, torture, and unlawful detention. Like so many others, Lee did nothing wrong, certainly nothing that warranted his arrest; but the FCO does not warn citizens that they can be detained and indeed convicted in the UAE for literally no reason at all. The justice system in the Emirates is abysmal, with no evidentiary standards, no semblance of due process, and routine torture of suspects to extract false confessions. All of this is essentially being co-signed by the Foreign Office if they continue to leave Britons in the dark about the grave risks they face in the UAE.

“Lee Bradley Brown’s death was tragic, the cover-up over what actually happened is criminal, and the FCO’s refusal to adequately inform British citizens about the dangers of traveling to the UAE is negligent and shameful. Since his death we have seen numerous cases of British nationals both wrongfully accused and tortured in the Emirates. Matthew Hedges was ludicrously accused of espionage over a PhD thesis and kept in solitary confinement; Andy Neal was jailed on false allegations for over a year and psychologically abused; and we now have Albert Douglas arrested for crimes he did not commit, beaten and tortured by police. Yet, the FCO refuses to acknowledge how drastically unsafe the UAE is for foreigners.

“10 years after a British citizen was killed in Dubai police custody, with case after case of abuse over the intervening decade, the British government still allows the UAE to promote a false image of itself and lure tourists, just as Lee Bradley Brown was lured, and the Foreign Office just pretends that everything is fine. Lee and his loved ones deserve better than this”.

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