Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Criminal

The man kissed the cross-dresser before discovering that his seducer was a man. After kicking the cross-dresser out, the man found he had been robbed and reported it to police. He was then charged with consensual sex and deported, while the thief was never caught.

The laws and law enforcement in the UAE has long been a big bone of contention with me. The above reference highlights the danger the expatriate community faces in in interacting with the justice system. The article in today's The National, UAE decency laws need reform, say judges, highlights a few of the problems associated with this.

One hard reality of the life of an expatriate in the UAE is that he or she can be deported and banned permanently from re-entering the country for even the most minor of offenses. Flip the bird as they say and say goodbye to the UAE.

So what!

Anyone looking at this picture from the outside might think it isn't worth being in a place where one is treated as so much the unwelcome guest. But this harsh facet of life in the UAE contrasts so sharply with another reality that makes the UAE the chosen place for work and residence for 90% of its population. The UAE is for the most part a welcoming international destination, where countless millions are offered visas to work and reside and they are for the most part left to live the way they like.

The catch, however, is that there is no ultimate legal protection of these privileges. As the article goes on to mention,
...couples who showed intimacy in public, regardless of how innocent, would face a mandatory sentence of deportation if convicted. Offences include adultery, consensual sex, inappropriate gestures and signs, kissing, touching, and intimate movements, according to another judge. Sentences range from a month in prison, in addition to deportation, to death.

Yes, that's what it says... death! It's on the books and these judges speak of things like mandatory sentences.

For most resident expatriates, the classic scenario is that you are involved in a traffic accident resulting in a minor injury. Whether at fault or not, you (the expatriate) are arrested and jailed for some period of time, passport confiscated and then deported.

Any evidence of alcohol in your bloodstream (there is no legal allowance, simply zero tolerance) and the jail time is extended, your insurance is deemed invalid and you become liable for all financial damages, even if there is no evidence that you were at fault.

Beyond this nightmare, which lurks in the back of any expatriate's mind, is the fact that the legal system is on the face of it extremely arbitrary. While there are laws that reference certain legal procedures, the reality it seems is that once one is taken up by the justice system all bets are off.

Will you have a chance to get legal consul, will any of the proceedings which go on be translated into your spoken language if not Arabic, will you in fact be released if and when a release date is determined...? It is all anyone's guess and everyone's worst nightmare.

On the flip side of it all, however, is that the UAE can be so scary a place from a justice system point of view that it keeps a lot of people scared straight about committing any crimes. The UAE is a relatively safe, crime-free environment as a result. But then, what is really criminal, when all is said and done, is that the system itself seems less to uphold justice than to subvert it.

5 comments:

Bradly Jones said...

wow, with all the cheap calls to UAE, and all the mega constructions, the amount of foreigners there, and they still implement things like this. wow i still can't believe it.

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