We look at the major changes to criminal law
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.”