We look at the ma­jor changes to crim­i­nal law

7 Days in Dubai - - NEWS - Ali.shouk@7days.ae

weep­ing changes to UAE crim­i­nal law were in­tro­duced in last week, af­fect­ing a wide range of of­fences, fines and po­ten­tial pun­ish­ments.

Ear­lier this week, 7DAYS ex­am­ined changes to the drug laws, which in­clude the halv­ing of min­i­mum sen­tences for drug pos­ses­sion to two years and the in­tro­duc­tion of re­hab for UAE na­tion­als.

Here we look at changes to the sep­a­rate pun­ish­ment law.

Among the key mea­sures is tougher sen­tenc­ing for con­sum­ing al­co­hol with a li­cence. Pre­vi­ously, the max­i­mum pun­ish­ment was a Dhs2,000 fine and a month in jail in rare cases.

Now, the min­i­mum sen­tence is six months and a Dhs10,000 fine. How­ever, a per­son caught drink­ing il­le­gally is not usu­ally pros­e­cuted un­less they are in­volved in a fight or an­other crime.

Dubai crim­i­nal lawyer Ali Mus­abeh said: “Usu­ally the pre­vi­ous pun­ish­ment was enough, par­tic­u­larly for Western ex­pats, that they wouldn’t do it again.

“Now it’s be­come six months in jail or Dhs10,000 fine and I think it’s un­nec­es­sary and harsh.”

But he said an­other part of the law aimed at tack­ling boot­leg­gers is to be wel­comed.

Il­le­gal al­co­hol sell­ers are of­ten seen in the courts for deal­ing in labour camps and have been linked to fa­tal turf wars in a num­ber of cases.

He said: “Many al­co­hol prod­ucts are fake and can dam­age peo­ple’s lives.”

An­other key change is com­mu­nity ser­vice for mi­nor of­fend­ers, Emi­ratis and ex­pats. De­tails are yet to be an­nounced but in other coun­tries it in­cludes work­ing in com­mu­nity cen­tres and sweep­ing streets.

Mus­abeh said: “Com­mu­nity ser­vice can help to re­ha­bil­i­tate the de­fen­dant away from prison. This is a big jump for UAE jus­tice.”

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