Residents married to Emiratis can no longer be deported if convicted of a crime, following an amendment to the UAE’s federal laws.
Previously, a deportation order was mandatory in cases where an expatriate was convicted of a crime and sentenced by a court. Details of the change, approved by President Sheikh Khalifa late last year, have just been revealed.
The change stipulated that a resident may not be sentenced to deportation if they are married to or are an immediate family member of an Emirati citizen unless the judgment is issued in a crime endangering the national security of the country.
Judge Ahmed Saif, head of the Dubai Civil Court and former head of the criminal courts, welcomed the changes, saying that judges had no option but to handout deportation sentences in several cases, even if they perceived it to be too harsh. “This is a great change to the law, which is completely consistent with the country’s call for tolerance,” he said.
The UAE passed several laws in 2019 to protect families and victims of domestic violence. These legal changes strengthen the country’s Family Protection Policy. New jail terms and restraining orders were introduced to tackle domestic violence and protect families from intimidation and threats.
A sexual harassment charge was also added to federal law last month, building on an existing charge of “breaching the modesty of a woman”.
The new charge expands the legal definition of sexual harassment to include repetitive harassment through action, words or even signs that aim to coax the recipient into responding to the offender’s sexual desires. The charge also recognizes men as victims of sexual harassment.
Similarly, the country downgraded 28 crimes — including insults, animal abuse, and traffic offenses — meaning they can be punished with fines rather than having to be heard in court, thereby reducing the workload of courtrooms.