Friday, June 09, 2006

Unfair justice

Another item to add to the long list of things that need reviewing in Dubai/UAE laws:

Man held after killing worker crossing highway

A British man has been held by police for over a week after he accidentally knocked down and killed an Indian worker who was trying to cross Sheikh Zayed Road last Thursday. Cliff Walker, aged 56, was driving a friend to work in Jebel Ali at 7am when two construction workers ran out in front of his car on the road near Ibn Battuta Mall, where the speed limit is 120kph.

“The two workers appeared out of nowhere and despite hitting the brakes and swerving sharply he couldn’t avoid slamming into them,” Walker’s colleague Paul L told 7DAYS yesterday. A 47-year-old Nepalese worker died instantly after slamming into the car’s windscreen while his Indian friend, aged 45, suffered medium injuries and was treated in Rashid hospital.
Walker has been told by the police that he might end up spending another two weeks in Bur Dubai Holding cells until the case has been fully investigated, Paul L added. “He is demoralised and feels pretty terrible about the man’s death, yet he is sitting in jail for something that is not his fault and entirely out of his control,” Singh R, his employer’s PRO said.

But Major Adnan Bin Zael, the director of Bur Dubai police station said holding people involved in accidental death, until investigations by police and the public prosecutor are complete, is commonplace. He could not comment on Walker’s case specifically, but said that even if a pedestrian is crossing in an illegal place, the driver is sometimes also at fault. “It’s not always so cut and dry. We could have a driver speeding or driving recklessly and a pedestrian illegally crossing the road and in that case, both are at fault,” he said.

People crossing major highways is a big problem on the busy roads of Dubai. There are few safe crossing places on most major roads in the city and with speed limits of 120kph, even cars not considered to be speeding are likely to kill anyone they hit.

Being held in jail, especially for a week or more, before even being charged really is far from being a fair system of justice. The more Dubai thrusts itself into the world's conciousness the more these iniquities will receive international exposure, and all the positive publicity will be undone.


Desert Lady said...

'Guilty till proven innocent' has always been the way hasn't it. I know a few people that have spent a week or two in Bur Dubai - it isn't pleasant.

I doubt this rule will ever change.

nzm said...

While back in NZ, I heard a story from my old boss about some friends of hers in transit at DXB who had a handbag stolen/go missing.

When they reported this to the police, they were locked away for 3 hours and missed their flight out!

Stuff like this does not help the image of the UAE.

Canuck said...

What's very sad is the fact that the two pedestrians (I'd assume they were construction workers) were willing to take their life. Given the horrible conditions they live in, this has been the only way out for them, since their families MAY get the "Blood money" that insurance companies might pay out.

A stop to these kinds of accidents will only happen when workers (especially the construction workers) are paid a minimum wage.

Let's hope the day is near when this happens.....seems like the US is pushing the UAE government in this direction, but of course in the local way of doing things it will be a long time before minimum wages are introduced in the UAE.

moryarti said...

many laws in the middle east are since the late 70s and should be reviewed.. this is one of them

DubaiGolfer said...

Hardsh and more than a little scary. You tend to forget that laws like this exist. And finally why does it take a week to investigate? At 7am on SZR you have got be believe there were a large number of people willing to support the version of events as told by Me Walker and his passenger.

Seabee said...

Canuck, there was no suggestion it was a suicide run by the pedestrians. Although a couple of those cases have surfaced, the general problem is simply people trying to cross the road - but it's a ten lane freeway with 120kph speed limit. There are no pedestrian crossings so the only way to cross - other than trying to run across and dodge the traffic - is to catch a taxi to go round the next interchange.

Anonymous said...

The following is from a US Government website:

"Persons involved in an accident in which another party is injured automatically go to jail until the injured person is released from the hospital."

Question: Is this still common in Dubai? In the case where the pedestrian was killed the driver was held for 1-2 weeks. Are people held in jail while another party is in the hospital? My concern is where an accident may not even be your fault but the other party is injured. Does anyone have knowledge about this?

I am considering a move to Dubai. I have not once had an accident in 20 years of driving. But laws like this are of concern.