UAE moves to down­grade 28 mi­nor of­fences

The National - News - - FRONT PAGE - SALAM AL AMIR

An­i­mal abuse is among sev­eral of­fences that will now be pun­ished with fines rather than through the courts.

The UAE At­tor­ney Gen­eral iden­ti­fied 28 mi­nor crimes pre­vi­ously brought be­fore judges that will now in­cur a cash penalty .

The move is in­tended to speed up pro­ce­dures and take the pres­sure off the coun­try’s ju­di­cial sys­tem.

The crim­i­nal or­der, is­sued this month by Dr Ha­mad Al Shamsi, will ap­ply to all emi­rates ex­cept Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, which is­sue their own.

The or­der states that tor­tur­ing, abus­ing, “caus­ing ex­haus­tion” and not pro­vid­ing

the “cor­rect care” for an an­i­mal by a per­son will by­pass a court hear­ing and be pun­ished with a Dh1,000 fine.

Pre­vi­ously, such cases in­volv­ing the same crimes would have been heard in court and pun­ished with a fine of up to Dh1,000 – mean­ing the penalty could have been set at a lesser amount.

Ac­cord­ing to the UAE pe­nal code, any­one who in­ten­tion­ally kills, poi­sons or se­ri­ously harms a do­mes­tic or tamed an­i­mal is still sub­ject to a fine no greater than Dh10,000 or up to a year in prison.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween tor­tur­ing an an­i­mal and se­ri­ously harm­ing it will be up to the dis­cre­tion of the pros­e­cu­tors in the five emi­rates in which the crim­i­nal or­der ap­plies.

The or­der al­lows pros­e­cu­tors of a cer­tain rank in some cases to is­sue a judg­ment sim­i­lar to a court’s ver­dict and is­sue fines of about half the amount a court would have im­posed.

Once is­sued, a ju­di­cial or­der can ei­ther be ac­cepted or re­jected within a week by the ac­cused. If the or­der is re­jected, both par­ties can in­sist on hav­ing the case re­ferred to court.

Other mi­nor crimes that can now be pun­ished with a fine in­clude eat­ing in pub­lic dur­ing Ramadan, burn­ing some­one’s prop­erty, dam­ag­ing or up­root­ing a plant, over­stay­ing a visa and ob­struct­ing jus­tice.

Five types of traf­fic of­fences – driv­ing with a sus­pended li­cence, driv­ing with­out a li­cence, the un­ap­proved chang­ing of car plates, flee­ing a crash scene and re­fus­ing to pro­vide ID to po­lice of­fi­cers – will re­sult in a fine of be­tween Dh1,000 and Dh3,000, rather than the pre­vi­ously used jail sen­tence.

Dubai down­graded mi­nor crimes in this way in 2017, when the emi­rate’s at­tor­ney gen­eral is­sued a crim­i­nal or­der cov­er­ing 11 mis­de­meanours.

“This pro­ce­dure helped free Dubai court rooms,” said Omar Alo­mar, an Emi­rati lawyer.

“The Abu Dhabi crim­i­nal or­der, hav­ing listed more mis­de­meanours, will fur­ther help speed up the process and I be­lieve it is to the ben­e­fit of the of­fender to be fined in a quick and just pro­ce­dure in­stead of weeks in court,” he said.

“The di­ver­sity of the UAE’s res­i­dents con­trib­utes to an in­creased num­ber of crimes com­mit­ted, which causes courts to be busy, but with de­ci­sions like the crim­i­nal or­der, the work­load on courts will lighten.”

In 2017, the UAE in­tro­duced com­mu­nity ser­vice as a pun­ish­ment for some mi­nor crimes.

“Only mis­de­meanours that are pun­ish­able with a jail term not ex­ceed­ing six months can be pun­ished by as­sign­ing the of­fender to com­mu­nity ser­vice,” Mr Alo­mar said. He said the mi­nor crimes in the or­der pre­vi­ously car­ried a penalty of more than six months in jail.

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