UAE changes made to the Federal Criminal and Civil Codes

UAE changes made to the Federal Criminal and Civil Codes

Dispute Resolution

The Presidential decrees, which (amongst other things) make changes to the laws relating to laws on crimes involving indecency and crimes of a sexual nature (including harassment, and ‘honour crimes’), have been issued to support the UAE’s belief in the principles of tolerance and to align its social and economic status and capability with the world’s leading countries for the promotion of foreign expertise and investment in the UAE.

Penal Code and Procedure

The Presidential decrees included some major changes to the criminal laws in the UAE. Some of the most important include:

  • Abolishing the article which reduced the punishment for ‘honour crimes’, so that this crime will now be treated as murder.
  • Consuming alcohol in authorised places is no longer a criminal offence.
  • For those who commit an indecent act in public the punishment will be a fine instead of prison for the first offence.
  • Consensual sex will not be punished by the law under the new changes. However, consensual sex will be punished by the law if the victim, male or female, is under 14 years of age or if the victim is deprived of their will due to their young age, insanity or are mentally challenged or if the culprit is a first degree relative of the victim or responsible for their upbringing or usual care or has an authority of the minor victim. A person convicted of engaging in sexual intercourse with a minor or mentally challenged person by force is still punishable by the death penalty.
  • The “Good Samaritan” provisions have now been introduced meaning that a person will not be liable if they commit a harmful act to another person where, with good intention, they have provided assistance to, or the rescuing of, that person when they needed urgent help.
  • Suicide – the court is now given the discretion to send a person convicted of attempting suicide for treatment instead of punishing them. However, a person assisting another person to commit suicide will be punished by an unspecified jail term.
  • Interpreters – arresting officers are now obliged to have an interpreter present if a suspect or a witness does not speak the Arabic language.
  • Confidentiality – arresting officers shall not reveal the personal information of a victim (except to those authorized to receive such information) for crimes:
    a. of a sexual nature such as rape, abuse, indecency, prostitution;
    b. where the crime involves a minor’s physical, psychological, mental, moral safety or the minor was exploited during begging or sexual crimes, pornography or in labour under inappropriate or threatening conditions.

The above is a summary of the new provisions introduced. A more in-depth update will follow once the decrees have been published in the official Gazette.

This article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For specific advice, please contact Nichola

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