Cruel and unusual punishment in the UAE
Recto Esmeralda, 59, defaulted on the Dhs80,000 loan, which he took out to pay for an operation for a friend’s mother, in 1999 after he was made redundant. His friend disappeared, leaving him with the debt and Esmeralda was jailed for four months shortly after defaulting. His passport was seized and he has been stuck in Dubai ever since, relying on friends and family to get by.
However, Mashreq Bank has signed his release papers after volunteers at St Mary’s Church took up Esmeralda’s case and convinced a judge to order that a settlement be reached. The bank agreed to take Dhs20,000 and he will see his wife for the first time since 2000 in the Philippines on Monday. “I am so very happy to go home after all this time,”Esmeralda told 7DAYS.
Esmeralda, a former HR manager in a hotel, has been unable to land a job since his passport was seized and his situation was further complicated after he suffered a stroke in 2008, which left him with physical disabilities and speech problems, according to Saudi Gazzette.
St Mary’s arranged for his file to be sent to the compassionate cases section of Dubai Courts, which urged the bank to negotiate. Mashreq agreed to waive most of the loan, and the compound interest and penalties.
A volunteer at St Mary’s said she was very grateful to a senior UAE judge who moved the case to a compassionate cases section of the court and also to the staff at the hotel, St Mary’s parishioners, the bank and many others who had helped bring Esmeralda home.
Staff and former employees at the hotel where he worked raised Dhs14,000 and St Mary’s paid the rest. Esmeralda got his expired passport back this week and the Philippines embassy has fast-tracked a renewal and paid for his flight home. The church, through parish priest, Father Tomasito Veneracion, has also raised money for two other flights so relatives can accompany him back to the Philippines.
A senior legal official at Mashreq Bank said he submitted the documents in court, adding: “I checked it just two days ago and the case is officially over. I am very happy to see this man go home.”