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Attempting suicide among 28 crimes 'downgraded' in the UAE

The ruling attempts to alleviate pressure from the country's legal system [Getty]

Date of publication: 19 October, 2019

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A list of 28 punishable offences in the United Arab Emirates will now see those accused pay a fine instead of facing a judge in court.

Attempting suicide is among a list of 28 punishable offences that have been downgraded in the United Arab Emirates, authorities confirmed, according to local reports.

Those found guilty of attempting suicide in the Gulf state now have to pay a fine of 1000AED (£210) instead of facing up to six months in jail or a 5000AED fine (£1050), as was the case prior to the new ruling.

The criminal order will see all emirates, except Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, downgrade the 28 “minor crimes” to incur fines in a bid to alleviate pressure from the country’s legal system.

Animal abuse, eating during the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, damaging property and a range of traffic offences, including fleeing the scene of a car crash, also made the lengthy list.

Issuing insults, both publicly and privately was also listed, though the ruling excludes insulting government employees from the downgrade.  

The ruling replicates a similar Dubai move in 2017 which covered 11 misdemeanours.

“This procedure helped free court rooms in Dubai when it started executing its criminal order and it gave judges more time to focus on cases of more importance,” said Omar Alomar, an Emirati lawyer, The National reported.

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

Read more: Detained in Dubai: UAE no longer safe for tourists

“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.”

'Beyond parody'

The rulers of the UAE have declared 2019 to be "the year of tolerance” and set up a ‘ministry of tolerance’.

But despite attempting to paint itself as a hip tourist location and "land of tolerance", the UAE has repeatedly come under fire from human rights groups for its harsh laws.

Hardly a week goes by without news emerging of a bizarre or politically-motivated arrest in the oil-rich Gulf country.

Recent examples include a British man arrested for wearing a Qatar football jersey or a man jailed for three-months for accidentally touching another man in a bar.

A spokesperson from the International Campaign for Freedom UAE slammed what was perceived to be the UAE's hypocritical attempts to portray itself as tolerant while locking up football fans of an opposing team.

"To set up a tolerance ministry one week, then arrest a tourist for wearing the wrong football shirt the next, is quite frankly, beyond parody," said the spokesperson.

"More than anything, it is now abundantly clear that the UAE is no longer a safe tourist destination. It is about time that the UK Foreign Office accepted that fact, and revised its travel advice to the Emirates accordingly."

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