American detained in Dubai calls for Senator help
Senator Baldwin calls on US State Department to help Veteran detained in Dubai
14 August 2023, Dubai: Senator Baldwin has reached out to the US State Department to assist a US military veteran who is becoming more desperate by the day. The PTSD sufferer has been separated from his family for five years, over a fabricated claim that he owed his former employer money where, in fact, he was owed end of service benefits.
Let alone coupled in the fact that I am a veteran with PTSD as well. I'm at the end of my life basically.”
Robert and his family have been desperately campaigning to have him freed from the UAE so he can join his family back in Oregon.
Stirling disclosed, “We have helped a lot of veterans and PTSD sufferers who have sadly been victims of injustice in the Middle East. Several of them have escaped the borders and made it to safety. Another veteran, Robyn Berlin, died last year trying to escape the desert country on foot because he had lost faith that he would ever be free.
“Senator Baldwin has confirmed he will make enquiries with the US State Department and with his support, we hope Robert will be reunited with his family. If diplomatic efforts are not made, the veteran will likely die in Dubai. This is an unacceptable situation for one of our strongest allies to put our citizens in.
“Robert has no legal avenue to appeal or to show evidence to the court that he does not owe the money. He was not even told there was a court date and was unable to defend himself. US diplomats must work with UAE authorities to resolve this miscarriage of justice.
3 August 2023:
Milwaukie native Robert Dobbs served in the US military as an airborne sergeant before leaving to pursue a career as a teacher.
55 year old Robert thought he had hit the jackpot when he landed what seemed to be a lucrative job in the UAE at the Providence English Private School in Sharjah, teaching English language and literature. Robert rose to head the department before circumstances meant he had to leave and begin new work teaching at a business school.
Robert, who is father to 5 children, found himself a victim of the Dubai legal system. The head of the school told Robert she was not going to pay him his End of Service Benefit.
“It was out of spite,” says Robert. “She wanted me to keep running the department. She told me that unless I stopped asking for my EOSB, she would not cancel my visa”
In Dubai a visa is something that can be held over employees. Robert could not legally work in his new job without the visa. He had to take a labour case against the school, which he won.
She still did not pay him. Instead she took out a civil case against Robert, accusing him of not paying tuition for his kids who went to the school. She was claiming a sum of AED 360,000 ($97,000).
“She told me to my face that she took the case for revenge because I took the labour case to get my EOSB,” says Robert. “The system here can be manipulated very easily by people”.
Robert lost the civil case because it took place during COVID and nobody told him about the hearing times and dates, meaning that he missed them and wasn’t able to defend himself.
Robert has been detained 28 times in Dubai police stations, and beaten severely by CID officers.
Robert has been stuck in Dubai since 2018. Unable to legally work, he’s been forced to live on his mother’s charity.
“It’s like Groundhog Day. Every day I am worried it will be the day I am taken to jail while the false debt is unpaid. It can never be paid because I don’t have the money. I am also legally forbidden to get a work visa while the case is open.
“It is no exaggeration to say I will probably die here because of this. My friend Robin Berlyn died trying to escape from exactly the same circumstances 18 months ago”.
Radha Stirling comments: “Cases like Robert’s are all too common unfortunately. The UAE legal system is wide open to abuse. This debt is a manufactured one, but the results are very real. We have seen people die in Dubai because they were not allowed to leave, nor were they allowed to work to support themselves because the open police/civil case prevents them from getting a work visa.
“These people are left relying on charity, often succumbing to malnutrition or as they get older, lack of medical treatment.
“The Dubai legal system, particularly respecting debts, needs urgent reform for the safety of visitors. If Dubai hopes to achieve its goal of being a major tourist and business hub for Westerners, it needs to stop issuing criminal punishments to civil disputes.”
Detained in Dubai: http://www.detainedindubai.org
Detained in Doha: https://www.detainedindoha.org
Radha Stirling: http://www.radhastirling.com
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