Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A mockery of justice

On Sunday I posted about the British couple fined for drinking alcohol, in spite of the fact that alcohol is sold by both government and private companies and is purchased legally.

The other half of the story is that they received a jail sentence of one month for indecent behaviour. They were accused of kissing and touching in Bob's Easy Diner at JBR, which they deny. They're out on bail awaiting the appeal.

That's the part of the story that's been getting publicity around the world. Another own goal for Dubai tourism.

The target was 15 million tourists by 2015 if I remember correctly. But while one group of people are working to achieve that there are others generating millions of dollars worth of negative coverage because of these own goals.

Jail for having a poppy seed on your clothing. Deported for raising a finger. Report being raped and be charged with having illicit sex with your fiance. (BTW, the rape accusation was proved to be false).

Now kiss a friend and go to jail.

But there's a much more disturbing side to the latest story and that's the way the case proceeded. Justice has not been served.

It was a case of one word against another. A 'Yes you did. No I didn't' case.

An Emirati woman lodged a complaint that the couple were behaving indecently. They deny indecency and say they kissed on the cheek in a perfectly normal greeting.

I don't know what really happened. Nor did Public Prosecution or the court. That's the point about having a fair trial, the truth is supposed to be discovered.

But that didn't happen - the way the case proceeded really is indefensible.

The woman told police that she had seen the 'offence' while she told Public Prosecution that her children had seen it. To clear up the discrepancy PP phoned her three times, couldn't get an answer but went ahead with the charge anyway.

That can't be right.

The woman only gave a written statement and could not be questioned by the defence.

That can't be right.

The court was asked for the children to appear so that they could be questioned. The court turned down the request, saying that the woman's written statement was sufficient.

That can't be right.

It's a long way from justice if a person can be charged with and found guilty of an offence simply on the word of another person.

A couple of reports of the case:

Gulf News.
Daily Telegraph.

Another part of the fallout from these stories is the misinformation being spread by people with an agenda. I've posted about this pet hate of mine before. People adamantly presenting their opinions as facts without knowing, or bothering to research, the real facts. Many more of the great uninformed believe what they read, so misinformation and misunderstanding spreads.

I came across a classic example relating to this latest case. It's under the headline: "A Kiss Before a Flogging: Western Couple Arrested for Kissing in Public In Dubai"

It went on to tell the readers that "Public flogging, beheadings are perfectly moral family entertainment in Dubai, but kissing is an outrage", a statement that's been deleted since comments pointed out it was pure fiction.

And this from a blogger who tells us in his bio that he is: "A professor...a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from constitutional law to legal theory to tort law. He has written over three dozen academic articles that have appeared in a variety of leading law journals..."

Don't believe me? Read it for yourself.


Doug said...

Precisely. The real problem is not that the rules are enforced - it's how they're enforced.

No foreigner or indeed resident has the right to complain about the rules – if the UAE deems kissing in public or carrying the wrong painkillers a punishable offence, then fine, that is the right of the UAE as a sovereign nation to do that.

Where we have the problem is the awkward application of the judicial system plus a severely mixed message. As you’ve pointed out before, drinking is crime – but the brunches carry on and logically if you have an alcohol license, it’s technically legal. The man who buys some duty free at the airport and then has a snifter in his hotel room in Al Ain gets jailed. Emiratis happily hold hands in public and kiss each other but a foreigner gets hauled before the courts.

Then there’s the issue of how these cases are prosecuted – sole testimony shouldn’t be grounds for a conviction…but in this case, it has been. Then there was a case of an elderly Canadian man who was detained for a month because police thought he had illegal painkillers – despite the fact that a)he had a prescription for them and b)no-one from the police bothered to look in the airport pharmacy where they would have found the ‘illegal’ painkillers freely and legally on sale.

I can’t help but think people would be less critical of the UAE’s laws if they were applied in a consistent and logical manner.

Whereas at the moment we have a half-assed and lazy judiciary and police force who essentially take the view that foreigners are up to no good and punish them even when they’ve not broken the law.

Anonymous said...

This post is pointless as the court hasnt decided anything yet and if memory serves me will on April 4th.

Whereas at the moment we have a half-assed and lazy judiciary and police force who essentially take the view that foreigners are up to no good and punish them even when they’ve not broken the law.

If you dont like it leave. Simple.

Anonymous said...

I really to have a problem with the 'if you don't like it then leave' syndrome. On more than one occasion this comment is made by defenders of Dubai. Yes, you have every right to tell people that if they don't like the law of the land then leave, however, what you tend to miss out from the equation is that it was Dubai that asked 'foreigners' to come and build their city offering equivalent or better standards, choices, laws and liberal attitudes. If the 'foreigners' decided to stay put in their countries of origin, the Emirate of Dubai would still be a sandy, pearl diving bankrupt medieval time warped village.

It is not the Emiratis that have built Dubai. It is the 'foreigners'. You people really have some gall telling foreigners to go back when it is you who have built the city wholly using foreign capital and foreign workforces. Why didn't you tell them to go back when they were building and financing Dubai?

It is your Dubai that is enticing foreigners under false pretenses to come and help with the economy and then penalising them for breaking your draconian laws once they land.

I said it before and will say it again, Dubai does not offer anything that cannot be found elsewhere in the world. Neither is Dubai a pioneer in anything. If you want the Emirate of Dubai to be a certain way then tell people the truth. Do not say one thing and practice another. You are a Dictatorship with hypocritical practices. Leaders determined by the surname of the father, you don't have Freedom of Choice, Movement or Speech. Your legal system is a shambles which is made up on a 'depend what the mood is on the day' scenario and the public has no voting rights. You are not a sovereign state but a dictatorship state. A general election to you means the sales at global village or summer surprise.

We foreigners come from democratically elected governments and we the people decide who we put in power to best represent our interests. This is a fundamental human right that you do not have amongst others.

Finally some of us have woken up, smelt the coffee and heeded your advice. We have left, with no intention of returning and all we can say is 'good riddance to you'!

Anonymous said...

This world needs more Bastard views, as they enable a humane homo sapien(s) appreciate the sanity they've been blessed with, as opposed to zilch; a Bastard. Now that is truly a Tragedy.

Artimus said...

The hits just keep on coming.

Seabee said...


"This post is pointless as the court hasnt decided anything yet"

Yes it has. The court found the couple guilty and sentenced them to one month each in jail. What is due to happen in April is the appeal against that verdict.

A question for you, as you keep on with the infantile 'if you don't like it, leave' cliche.

I'm highlighting a legal system that says people can be convicted and jailed simply on a written complaint. You say if I don't like it I can leave - so where do you stand on the issue? Do you agree with this version of 'justice'? If you don't agree with it, will you leave too?

Doug said...

If you dont like it leave. Simple.

Let me ask you a few questions.

What do you think would have happened if that had been said to someone in Karama in the 70s who wanted running water?

What do you think would have happened if that had been said to someone who wanted a road between Abu Dhabi and Dubai?

What do you think would have happened if that had been said to someone who said Dubai needed a 5* hotel?

What do you think would have happened if that had been said to someone who said Dubai needed a supermarket?

What do you think would have happened if that had been said to someone who said Dubai needed internet access?

Every single acheivement in Dubai, every thing that makes Dubai the success it has been so far, has come from someone, somewhere, saying "We should improve this."

I'm not going to patronise you and say Emiratis owe foreigners everything because I don't even believe that's true.

What I will say is that the mindset that just accepts things the way they are says people can leave if they don't like it is NOT the mindset that built Dubai.

Saying that is like saying change is impossible - and I might point out that according to one Emirati in particular, "The world 'impossible' is not in a leader's dictionary."

Anonymous said...

It bothers me as it brings memory of an incident of what happened to my former colleauge who was fasely accused by a security guard who did not even speak English. He was accused of taking a woman back to his apartment. I was so annoyed as I felt that we were being watched at home. It disgusted me. This happened only recently in Dubai. I am not in Dubai anymore.

Anonymous said...

I am a foreigner from the west. Be fair- UAE is a young country and what it has achieved in few years was not achieved by any western country in more than double that time. UAE is trying hard to enforce the law and it will in less than half the time taken by any western country. Agreed that foreigners built large part of Dubai and UAE but foreigners also made a lot of money from that amongst them were Bank directors getting fat bonuses. Agreed that Dubai and other Emirates borrowed money from foreign banks but it was those Banks that lent them at Hugh profits. Agreed that Dubai did not make repayment in time but it has not stolen it has only asked for extra time. In which part of the world this does not happen? Particularly in bad times.

So don’t say that foreigners put Dubai where it is today. It in the end will have been done by DUBAI/UAE money and Rulers' vision for their country.

Foreigners from west don’t come only to build Dubai or UAE. They came with their own agenda. Like making more money, saving taxes, security, easy life, employing servants and maids (which they call cheap labour), luxury which they could not dream of having in their own country, etc etc. and safety. In most western countries walking after 6 Pm in a lonely street is frightening experience but in Dubai no problem. There you cannot afford not to have alarm in your house or car but in Dubai you leave your house or car open and don’t worry.

The labourers came here because they could not get jobs or enough money in their country like India, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangla Desh and so on.
Agreed that some of them were exploited but if you look deeply you will find that they were mainly exploited by their own countrymen in and outside UAE and Dubai

By the way who said that flogging and beheading is done here for public entertainment? Please get your facts right. I have been here for last 5 years or so and neither I have seen nor heard such stupid accusations. Kissing and drinking in public is not allowed so accept it and don’t do it. Who said Emiratis do that? Sorry but they don’t.

If one judge made a mistake, don’t take it as the end, wait for the appeal and you will see that justice will be done. It might take little more time but as I said this is a young country

If you think that western countries do justice and have good political system then don’t look far, just look at the Iraq and Palestine


Anonymous said...

Talk of western democracy? Look at democratically elected governments of USA and UK under Idiots like Bush and Blair. They went into illegal war against Iraq disregarding their own peoples' views. This war cost hundreds of thousands of innocent peoples' lives including those of their own military personals. People are still dying there. The true reason was OIL. Bush/ Blair disregarded core problem of Israel occupying Palestinians’ land and killing them in thousands (many of whom children). Israel has broken every UN resolution yet US and UK governments have done nothing. So don’t bash the rulers and governments of UAE. They are not democratically elected but are far better than yours.

You claim your governments are fair to all in your countries in matter of law. Go and ask your own Muslim citizens, Asians, Africans and you will get your answers. Go on the following link as well

You UAE/ Dubai/ bashers know that if you live in Dubai and observe their customs and social rules, you are far better off than in your own countries. If you feel you are not better off, you are not forced to live here or even come here. Just stay in your own unsafe, unsecure, costly, taxing countries where law is only in name

Anonymous said...

It's all very well asking expats to stay away from the UAE if they don't like the UAE after you have used their funds, intellect, ideologies, management skills, labour and way of life in order to build yours. Why did you not build it yourselves?

Not only were you not content with this, but you even sold your precious natural resource (oil) to them in order to crawl into the 21st century. Why sell your oil to the infidels?

As far as USA and UK going to war in Iraq against the mass populations will is concerned, what did the UAE do to defend their Iraqi brethren? Nothing.

Just in case you didn't know, the leaders of the UK, USA, UAE and all the Middles East are all in bed together. Nothing happens in the region without the blessings of your leaders. It's a super club. Have you ever seen KSA, Kuwait and UAE flinch whenever USA, UK and Israel flex their muscles in the region? Never (apart from the 1973 oil embargo) and even then the USA has made sure that it will never happen again.

Finally, how can you give a link to a local newspaper article which is State regulated and doesn't have Freedom of Press. Of course you are going to believe it. It's called Dictatorship under the guise of Vision controlling the Masses who blindly believe anything and everything their Leaders throw at them without question.

Anonymous said...

Foreigners keep on coming and they would and they are paid more then what they are paid in their own respective countries. If you don't like Dubai or UAE don't come

Anonymous said...

Im not sure if this comment will be read but hoping it would catch SOME one's attention. I need help. Fighting a divorce case in Dubai. The court is not doing justice. I need a strong lawyer to help. Have been to three lawyers already and NONE know their job! Please can someone help me here ... I cant post contact details. Will keep checking this page hoping for a response ...