Legal system of the United Arab Emirates
- 1 Judicial Structure
- 2 Criminal law
- 3 Personal status law
- 4 Social security
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External Links
Under the Constitution, each Emirate is allowed to either establish its own judiciary or to merge with the federal court system.
Federal Court System
The UAE federal system includes courts of first instance (trial court), courts of appeal and the court of cassation (Supreme Court).
State Court System
The State (or Emirate) judicial system (النظام القضائي المحلي "local judicial system") has also trial, appeal and cassation courts. The Emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al-Khaimah have their own courts of cassation.
The UAE penal code is not based completely on Islamic Sharia, but derives several elements from it. Sharia law does exist in the UAE and is used in specific circumstances, such as in the payment of blood money. Individual emirates have also suspended some Sharia punishments such as flogging, replacing them with jail terms.
Under UAE Law, a juvenile is an individual aged 18 or below. Capital punishment, imprisonment, or fines cannot be imposed as sentences against juveniles who commit criminal offences. The Juveniles law follows a Restorative Justice model focusing on the needs of the young offender. Judges can issue a variety of non-punitive sentences including reprimand, putting young offenders under the supervision of a guardian, or rehabilitation.
In 2015, 40% of all cases examined by prosecutors were related to offences committed by juveniles.
The competence of Sharia Courts has been limited by presence of Civil and Criminal Courts. In some Emirates, particularly Abu Dhabi, however, Sharia law came to apply to all types of civil and commercial disputes, capital criminal offences and matters of personal status. Each of the seven federal Emirates maintains a parallel system of Sharia Courts proper to it.
Flogging is a punishment for certain criminal offences (such as adultery, and alcohol consumption by Muslims) and it is applicable to both genders. Between 2007 and 2014, many people in the UAE were sentenced to 100 lashes.
Verbal abuse pertaining to a person's sexual honour is illegal and punishable by 80 lashes. In January 2014, a man in Abu Dhabi was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and 80 lashes for alcohol consumption and raping a toddler.
Alcohol consumption for Muslims is illegal and punishable by 80 lashes, many Muslims have been sentenced to 80 lashes for alcohol consumption. 80 lashes is the standard amount for anyone sentenced to flogging in some emirates. Sometimes 40 lashes are given. Non Muslims are required to have Alcohol Licenses to be allowed to consume spirits and alcohol. If a license was not obtained, the punishment will be 1–6 months detention and/or a fine not exceeding 2000 Dirhams (approximately 544 US Dollars). Non Muslims cannot be punished by flogging under Sharia Principles for consuming alcohol and this has been confirmed by UAE Federal Law No.52 of year 2006. Drunk-driving is strictly illegal.
Under article 340 of the Penal Code abortion is illegal in the United Arab Emirates except where a woman's life is at risk or the unborn child has a genetic condition that will prove to be fatal. A woman who is found to have undergone an elective abortion may face a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine up to 10,000 AED.
False allegations crimes
Many western associations state that many women who reported rape but were convicted for false allegations are still victims of rape. This is what they call criminalization of rape victims. The Emirates Center for Human Rights expressed concern over Dubai's criminalization of rape victims.
In Dubai, a woman who engages in consensual extramarital relations and press false allegations of rape can be sentenced to over a year of time in prison.
The Emirates Center for Human Rights states that "Until laws are reformed, victims of sexual violence in the UAE will continue to suffer" referring to a case in July 2013 in which a 24 year old Norwegian woman, Marte Dalelv reported an alleged rape to the police and received a prison sentence for "perjury, illicit [consensual extramarital] sex and alcohol consumption" and false allegations after she admitted lying about the rape.
Apostasy from Islam
Apostasy is a crime punishable by death in the UAE. Blasphemy is illegal, expats involved in insulting Islam are punished by deportation. UAE incorporates hudud crimes of Sharia into its Penal Code - apostasy being one of them. Article 1 and Article 66 of UAE's Penal Code requires hudud crimes to be punished with the death penalty, therefore apostasy is punishable by death in the UAE.
Dress code violations
The UAE has a modest dress code. The dress code is part of Dubai's criminal law. Most malls in the UAE have a dress code displayed at entrances. At Dubai's malls, females should cover their shoulders and knees, therefore sleeveless tops and short shorts are not permitted. However, the dress code is not strictly enforced in public places and it is very common to see people wearing all kinds of outfits at those places, especially in Dubai.
The wording of the Federal Penal Code provides presumption of bad faith on the part of 'anyone who draws a draft without a sufficient and drawable balance'. However, in practice, it is far more common for a cheque to be deposited by the payee as a tool to threaten and blackmail rather than male fides on the part of the drawer.
Homosexuality is illegal and a crime punishable by law.
Public Display of Affection
Romantic kissing in public places is considered discourteous to the Emirati culture and is discouraged and can be punished by law. Engaging in sexual intercourse in public areas is a crime punishable by law.
Article 1 of the Federal Penal Code states that "provisions of the Islamic Law shall apply to the crimes of doctrinal punishment, punitive punishment and blood money." The Federal Penal Code repealed only those provisions within the penal codes of individual emirates which are contradictory to the Federal Penal Code. Hence, both are enforceable simultaneously.
A new federal law in the UAE prohibits swearing in Whatsapp and penalizes swearing by a $68,061 fine and imprisonment, expats are penalized by deportation. In July 2015, an Australian expat was deported for swearing in Facebook.
During the month of Ramadan, it is illegal to publicly eat, drink, or smoke between sunrise and sunset. Exceptions are made for pregnant women and children. The law applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims, and failure to comply results in arrest.
Personal status law
Sharia law dictates the personal status law, which regulate matters such as marriage, divorce and child custody. The Sharia-based personal status law is applied to Muslims and even non-Muslims. Non-Muslims can be liable to Sharia rulings on marriage, divorce and child custody. However, the burden is on the Non Muslim party to request that foreign family laws are applied on a particular case. Judges would entertain such requests in line with Article 1 of the Personal Status Law.
In 2015, non-Muslims owning assets in the Emirate of Dubai were given the option to register their wills with the DIFC Wills & Probate Registry. Previously, the Sharia Law could still apply to the real estate assets owned by the non-Muslims. This welcome change has brought certainty in this area of law. The wills can now be prepared by wills draftsman duly registered with the Registry.
Emirati women must receive permission from a male guardian to marry and remarry. The requirement has been federal law since 2005. In all emirates, it is illegal for Muslim women to marry non-Muslims.
Personal Status courts have exclusive jurisdiction to hear family disputes, including matters involving divorce, inheritances, child custody, child abuse and guardianship of minors.
The UAE has no social security laws, but make available welfare benefits such as free hospital and medical care, education subsidies, water, and electricity. By virtue of the National Assistance Law, victims of catastrophic illnesses and disasters are entitled benefits. Social security payments are granted to people of old age, with disabilities or incapable of self support.
- "Legal and Judicial System in the United Arab Emirates - Shoeb Saher". Retrieved 2016-10-19.
- "Legal and Judicial System in the United Arab Emirates - Shoeb Saher". Retrieved 2016-10-19.
- "International coverage of UAE law: ignorance is no excuse | The National". www.thenational.ae. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
- "Abu Dhabi scheme to teach children legal responsibilities | The National". www.thenational.ae. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
- "Gulf Law: Corporate Laws in Arab Middle East, Company Law Guide, Legal System". Retrieved 2016-10-19.
- "2013 Human Rights Reports: United Arab Emirates". US Department of State.
Sharia (Islamic law) courts, which adjudicate criminal and family law, have the option of imposing flogging as punishment for adultery, prostitution, consensual premarital sex, pregnancy outside marriage, defamation of character, and drug or alcohol abuse.
- "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008". Jeffrey T. Bergner. p. 2203.
- "Torture and flogging". Fanack. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014.
- "U.N. Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: United Arab Emirates". Human Rights Voices.
- "Pregnant maid to get 100 lashes after being found guilty of illegal affair". 7daysindubai.com. 9 October 2013. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014.
- "Teenager to be lashed for adultery". Gulf Daily News.
- "Illicit lovers sentenced to 100 lashes each". Gulf News. 15 November 2010.
- "Two women sentenced to death for adultery". Khaleej Times. 25 September 2013.
- "Prison for couple who conceived outside of wedlock".
KA, 19, Emirati, was sentenced to six months in prison. Her would-be husband, AM, Omani, was sentenced to 100 lashes and one year in prison.
- "Adulterer to be lashed, jailed in Sharjah". Gulf News. 9 May 2010.
- "UAE – Amnesty International 2007".
In June, in the Emirate of Fujairah, a Shari'a (Islamic) court imposed a sentence of death by stoning on Shahin 'Abdul Rahman, a Bangladeshi national, after convicting him of adultery with Asma Bikham Bijam, a migrant domestic worker, who was sentenced to receive a flogging of 100 lashes and to be imprisoned for one year.
- "Court jails pregnant Filipina in Fujairah". Emirates 247. 9 October 2013.
A Filipina housemaid will be lashed 100 times on charges of stealing her employer in Fujairah after he discovered her pregnancy from an illegitimate relationship.
- "DUBAI: Alleged victim of gang rape sentenced to one year in prison".
At that point, she was facing a penalty for extramarital sex, which is 100 lashes and a minimum of three years in prison.
- "Man faces stoning in UAE for incest".
- "Woman denies affair after hearing she faces stoning". The National. 29 July 2009.
- "Dh500,000 expat verbal abuse case to be retried". The National. 8 December 2010.
In the UAE, only verbal abuse pertaining to the sexual honour of a person would be tried under Sharia. For guilt to be proven, the attack must have been made in public and one reliable witness must testify. If convicted, a person would be sentenced to 80 lashes and would never be accepted as a valid witness in a Sharia-based case.
- "Drunk worker rapes 2-year-old girl in Abu Dhabi". Emirates247.com. January 2014.
- "Man to get 80 lashes for drinking alcohol in Ajman". Gulf News. 19 February 2010.
- "Man who stabbed brother in drunken fight in Abu Dhabi jailed for year". The National. March 2013.
The younger brother admitted illegally consuming alcohol and was sentenced to 80 lashes - a punishment prescribed under Sharia.
- "Husband jailed for letting friend abuse his wife". 7days.ae. 9 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
As well as the jail term for rape, the Supreme Court also ordered that the defendants be given 80 lashes for drinking alcohol.
- "Man appeals 80 lashes for drinking alcohol in Abu Dhabi". The National. 13 March 2011.
- "Man jailed for raping step-daughter". 7days.ae. 6 March 2013. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
As well as the jail term he was also fined Dhs10,000 for reckless driving and will receive 80 lashes for drinking alcohol.
- "Drinking costs dad custody of kids". Emirates 247. 13 March 2011.
The expatriate father had won custody of his children during a previous court case in Ajman although it sentenced him to 80 lashes for drinking alcohol.
- "Fujairah man is jailed for drunken kidnap bid". 7days.ae. 13 June 2012. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
The judge ordered that the Arab man, who is a Muslim, be lashed as a forensic report confirmed there was alcohol in his system, despite his denial. The 80 lashes were handed out according to Sharia law.
- "Emirati to be executed for murder in Fujairah". Emirates 247. 29 May 2012.
Defendant to get 80 lashes before execution for having alcohol.
- "Motorist sentenced to 80 lashes for drink driving". 7days.ae. 26 November 2012. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
- Al Jandaly, Bassma (16 April 2006). "Estonian soldier to be lashed". Gulf News.
- "UAE Laws".
- Abortion in the UAE
- [Article 340, Penal Code]
- "DUBAI: Alleged victim of gang rape sentenced to one year in prison".
- The Associated Press (22 July 2013). "Dubai Pardons Woman at Center of Rape Dispute". Retrieved 2013-07-22.
- Mitya Underwood. "International coverage of UAE law: ignorance is no excuse - The National". Thenational.ae. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- "Dubai ruler pardons Norwegian woman convicted after she reported rape". CNN.com. Retrieved 2013-09-10.
- "Atheists face death in 13 countries, global discrimination: study".
- "The International Briefing: Persecution of Atheists and Apostates". Archived from the original on 2015-04-28.
- "UAE to deport expats abusing religions". Emirates 247. 22 July 2015.
- Butti Sultan Butti Ali Al-Muhairi (1996), The Islamisation of Laws in the UAE: The Case of the Penal Code, Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 4 (1996), pp. 350-371
- Al-Muhairi (1997), Conclusion to the Series of Articles on the UAE Penal Law. Arab Law Quarterly, Vol. 12, No. 4
- "Criminal Law of Dubai".
- "UAE: "Dress Modestly" Drive Gains Momentum".
- "Twitter Campaign Wants Female Visitors To Respect UAE Dress Code In Malls".
- "Dubai Mall dress code".
- "UAE: Dress Code Campaign Urges Extra Inches of Clothing".
- "Dubai shopping malls urge visitors to dress modestly".
- "Dubai dress code".
- "What is the new bounced cheque law in the UAE?". Wirestork. Retrieved 2018-06-23.
- "United Arab Emirates". Retrieved 27 October 2015.
Facts as drug trafficking, homosexual behaviour, and apostasy are liable to capital punishment.
- "Federal Law No (3) of 1987 on Issuance of the Penal Code". United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Archived from the original on 2013-05-25.
- "Measures Against Corruptibility, Gifts and Gratification – Bribery in the Middle East" (PDF). Arab Law Quarterly.
- "Swearing on Whatsapp 'will result in £40,000 fine and deportation, UAE rules'". The Independent. 16 June 2015.
- "UAE Imposes over $68,000 Fine, Jail Term for Swearing on Whatsapp; Expatriates Face Deportation". International Business Times. 16 June 2015.
- "Man to face trial in UAE for swearing in WhatsApp message". 7days.ae. 16 June 2015. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
- "British Expats Face Being Deported From UAE For Swearing On WhatsApp". Yahoo News. 16 June 2015.
- "Australian woman deported from Abu Dhabi over Facebook post". Khaleej Times. 15 July 2015.
- "Australian woman deported from the UAE after Facebook post". Arabian Business. 15 July 2015.
- "Australian jailed over Facebook post deported from Abu Dhabi". Stuff.co.nz. 15 July 2015.
- "Expat deported after posting abusive message about parking on Facebook". 7days.ae. 15 July 2015. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
- "Australian expat deported following Facebook post". Gulf News. 15 July 2015.
- "Sharia law and Westerners in Dubai: should non-Muslims in UAE be made to face Islamic justice?".
- Riazat Butt (31 July 2011). "Britons warned to respect Ramadan while holidaying in Dubai". The Guardian. London, UK. OCLC 60623878.
- "Britons 'liable to Sharia divorces' in UAE". BBC.
- "Divorcees, widows concerned about receiving 'permission' before remarrying".
- "United Arab Emirates International Religious Freedom Report, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (2009)". U.S. Department of State.
- "Social development - United Arab Emirates - future". www.nationsencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2016-07-04.
- "United Arab Emirates - Health and Welfare". Retrieved 2016-07-04.