x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

HIV inmates appeal to die at home

Five prisoners seek National Day pardons from interior ministry.

DUBAI // Five HIV-positive prisoners are appealing for pardons ahead of National Day so they can return to their countries in Africa to die.

Three are serving long sentences for possessing large amounts of drugs and two were jailed for theft.

They are from Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda and Senegal, and are among 10 foreigners in Dubai Central Prison’s Amber Ward, which houses 34 HIV-positive inmates.

“We are asking that they pardon us because we are HIV-positive,” said the prisoner I?M, 36, from Tanzania.

“We are missing our families. My wife died of Aids last month. We need to go back to our countries. I had HIV before I came here. My state of health is not good.”

The prisoners are given anti-retroviral drugs to treat their condition and visit a doctor every three months.

“The drugs are helping, but not much,” I?M said.

“It is good that they give us medicines and we are eating, but the conditions are not conducive because, one, we are not in our country and, two, we hear every day, ‘Oh, you are HIV, you have to die’.”

I?M was sentenced to 10 years in September last year for possessing 1.5kg of cocaine.

He has daughters aged nine and five, and a three-year-old son in Arusha.

“We don’t have money, we don’t have anything. We are not in our country and we are going to die.”

The Nigerian inmate E?I, 43, is also HIV-positive and was jailed for 10 years in March for possessing 600 grams of heroin and cocaine. He is married and has a son, 12, and a daughter, 8.

“When someone is in this condition, you have to go and sit with your people,” E?I said.

“When they see you they’ll at least see you still have some life to live. I’m pleading for this country to help because of my condition.”

csimpson@thenational.ae