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05 July, 2005

Taking some Time Out

Ali, a Lebanese media associate, is just back from his three-week holiday at a Government hotel. Beverage and bad driving earned him and most of his fellow holidaymakers their free stay. Room occupancy rates are apparently so high that beds often have to be shared - but for a group of lads on an all-boys adventure trip, it's surely all happy camping?

With the holiday season arriving, and Dubai Police calling on the media to highlight do's and don'ts for tourists, TimeOut Dubai has published a useful article about what to expect when one is arrested:

It may come as a pleasant surprise to hear that you have many core rights, including the right to contact a third party, the right to be questioned with an attorney present and the right to presumption of innocence. If you are a woman, you have the right to have your body and clothes searched by a woman rather than by a man.

Unfortunately, local lawyer Ali Abdulla Al Shamsi warns that these rights are often violated:

"Most of the time people are given their rights, but sometimes the police are not helpful and do not cooperate much," he says. Al Shamsi claims that the accused may be treated aggressively by police or may not be given the chance to contact a lawyer. By his estimate, he says prisoners’ rights are violated about 30 percent of the time.

Stephen Jakobi, of Free Trials abroad, highlights a possible cause of pro-local bias in the UAE legal system. Many judges are non-citizen Arabs on short-term contracts, subject to periodic renewal by the Government.

"If they displease anybody, they lose the job… which means they’re at the mercy of local citizens and local officials,’ says Jakobi.



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