Tortured yet again - Albert’s health deteriorates in Dubai jail as UK government finally acts
The UK Government has finally started to intervene to put pressure on the Dubai authorities as the health of Romany Gypsy businessman Albert Douglas, jailed and tortured in Dubai for a crime he didn’t commit, continues to deteriorate after yet more torture by the authorities – this time whilst chained to a hospital bed, says his son Wolfgang Douglas.
Speaking to the Travellers’ Times, Wolfgang Douglas said that his father was in a serious condition from his beatings and torture and needs urgent surgery and medication to save his life. Albert Douglas has been jailed in the United Arab Emirates and Dubai’s “hell-hole” prison system for three years. “We are begging our government to put pressure on the Dubai authorities to allow my father to be repatriated back home to the UK,” said Wolfgang Douglas.
VIDEO. Human rights lawyer Radha Stirling interviews Wolfgang Douglas and Billy Hood – whose son is also detained in Dubai:
Albert Douglas was detained by the Dubai authorities and charged and convicted over two bouncing cheques despite the court being shown forensic evidence proving that Albert did not write them.
After trying to flee the United Arab Emirates, Albert was captured and then tortured and beaten by prison authorities, suffering a broken arm with a “protruding bone,” that was left untreated for over a year and which still requires further surgery. Albert now also needs a wheelchair as he is having regular blackouts. All the prison authorities have so far provided is a broken plastic chair with one missing leg, says Albert’s son Wolfgang.
The Travellers’ Times has seen communications suggesting that the Foreign Office are finally intervening in Albert’s case following pressure from Felicity Buchan MP, Baroness Janet Whitaker, Andy Slaughter MP and seven other MPs. Felicity Buchan, MP for Kensington, is Wolfgang Douglas’s constituency MP and Baroness Whitaker and Andy Slaughter MP belong to the cross-party Parliament group for Gypsies, Roma and Travellers. In the UK the Foreign Office has no legal duty requiring it to assess and then intervene with foreign governments when British citizens are detained abroad in countries, like Dubai, with atrocious human rights records. In other countries, like the USA and Canada, the governments do have a legal duty to protect their citizens abroad.
However, the first intervention from the UK government, a medical assessment, was rebuffed by the Dubai prison authorities. The UK Consulate arranged for a five-person medical panel to go and visit Albert and check on his health in hospital where he was having his shoulder operated on, which had been broken during a beating by prison authorities when he was first imprisoned, says Wolfgang.
“The prison authorities refused to let the British consular officials check on my father while he was in the Dubai Rashid hospital,” says Wolfgang. “This was when he was having his shoulder re-broken and reset back into his body after being left untreated and his bones actually protruding his body for nearly seven months at the time, without as much as an aspirin for the pain.”
The British Consulate are now planning to send a five-person medical panel to assess Albert’s health and to determine whether he is in a fit state to continue his prison sentence in Dubai, or whether he needs to come home, says Wolfgang, adding that if his father is not brought home soon, he will come home eventually – but in a coffin.
Wolfgang Douglas also says that shortly after the UK Consulate’s first failed visit, his father Albert was tortured yet again – this time in the hospital.
“During that time when the consulate was blocked access to check on my father’s health after his surgery, the United Arab Emirates authorities tried to force him into making a propaganda video while he was chained to a hospital bed,” says Wolfgang Douglas. “They tried first to persuade my father by a financial threat about who would pay for the surgery, and then threatened him with even more jail time,” added Wolfgang. “When my father refused to comply, six armed soldiers then threatened him physically whilst he was chained to a hospital bed. My father refused them to get away with this as he has already refused to sign forced confessions in the past, which has led to him being tortured and mistreated on many occasions.”
Wolfgang Douglas, who has devoted his life and spent over a million pounds to trying to get his father freed, pleaded with “Gypsy and Traveller celebrities and sports-people” to help put pressure on the UK Government to do more to bring his father home.
“I just cannot believe that none of the celebrities other than Alfie Best from our own community have come out to condemn subjects like torture in the United Arab Emirates or the failure by our government to protect British citizens detained in Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates,” said Wolfgang Douglas. “I hope that changes and I hope more step forward to support the campaign to free Albert Douglas and bring my father back home to his wife and family.”
Wolfgang Douglas also has a message for Gypsy and Traveller businesspeople thinking about doing business in Dubai.
“Once you know the real risk you know no profit would warrant it,” says Wolfgang Douglas. “If you are willing to gamble with your life, then Dubai is where you should go,” he added.
“Doing business there ourselves has devastated our family. My mum, who is back in the UK and living with me, has now been separated from her husband for three years. They’ve been married for 40 years and, before this happened, have never spent more than 48 hours apart.”
“Dubai and the wider United Arab Emirates has a good PR. But beware of doing business there. You see the success stories – of foreign nationals getting rich - and you see all the influencer Instagram pictures, but you never read about people like my dad – and me – who fall prey to the corrupt legal system.”
“Like the Eagles song Hotel California – Dubai is a lovely place but you might never be able to leave.”
The Travellers’ Times has approached the Foreign Office for comment.
Mike Doherty for TT News
(Lead picture: Albert Douglas with his daughter Abbie Tucker, picture courtesy of Wolfgang Douglas, as are all the family pictures in this article)