Reforms in UAE criminal laws are revolutionary, legal experts say

Over 40 changes were announced in rules pertaining to personal protection, criminal law, data protection, fake news, and copyright rules


Dhanusha Gokulan

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Published: Sun 28 Nov 2021, 6:32 PM

A raft of new laws and legislative announcements approved by President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan are revolutionary, lawyers and legal experts in the country have said.

Over 40 changes were announced in rules pertaining to personal protection, criminal law, data protection, tackling fake news, and copyright rules. All rules come into effect on January 2, 2022. While some are new reforms, many are amendments to existing rules. The Federal Crime and Punishment Law strengthens protection for women and domestic workers.

The law decriminalises consensual relationships out of marriage. Any child born out of wedlock will be recognised and cared for as well. The Online Security Law will provide enhanced community protections from online crimes and will combat the spread of fake news.

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Mohammed Dahbashi, managing partner, ADG Legal, told Khaleej Times, “I think one of the important factors we have to consider is that the UAE follows a simple judicial system. One of the challenges of a civil justice system is that it is slower to adapt to the development of a country. Every time a law has to change, legislative changes have to be passed. I the UAE, this is not a problem.”

He added, “The UAE is keen to adapt to the modernization of the world and suit to the development of the country on a constant basis. If you look at the new laws, you can see that lawmakers have adapted to the current needs of the people.”

Dahbashi said the reforms in the Federal Crime and Punishment Law involving the decriminalization of children born out of wedlock takes into consideration people belonging to other cultures. “There are times women have their babies while they are visiting the UAE on vacation, for example. Previously, it was a huge challenge. The new rules shed light on this

Online Security Law reforms

Commenting on the rules pertaining to the Online Security Law, Dahbashi, said, “One of the biggest fears of the usage of social media is the spread of fake news and rumours. It has huge implications on society.” He said such actions will be strictly punished.

“Also, noteworthy is the data protection law since data is the point of contention between various international jurisdictions. The US in between had banned Chinese company Tiktok on suspicions that the latter was misusing the data of its citizens,” said Bal Krishen, the chairman and CEO of Century Financial.

He called data the ‘new oil’ and a law protecting that is indeed welcome. “UAE a global finance, tourism and trade hub will be able to reinforce its reputation and compete for new business with these new set of reforms,” said Krishen.

Reforms in corporate laws take UAE into the future

Krishen said, “Any company that is doing business is always looking forward to operating in an environment which has a modern legal structure. The new reforms enacted at the Federal level adopts the global best practices.”

He added, “Additionally, they also consider the technological transformation that has taken place in the aftermath of the pandemic. For example, digital signatures have been legalized. The protection given to trademarks and intellectual property will give multinational corporations to confidently operate in UAE.”

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