'UAE to have lowest violent crime rate in the world'
Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Abu Dhabi - UAE Interior Minister aims to position the country with the lowest violent crime rates in the world by 2021.
Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, emphasised the Ministry of Interior's commitment to work as per its strategy to attain the ultimate objective, to position the UAE at the forefront of the countries with the lowest violent crime rates in the world by 2021.
During the Federal National Council's meeting on Tuesday, Shaikh Saif said that the Violent Crime Index, which accurately measures the decrease in such crimes at a rate of five annual crimes per 100,000 population per year, indicates that the UAE has the lowest level of violent crimes in the world, compared to other advanced countries such as the United States of America and Germany.
According to statistics, the number of crimes per a population of 100,000 was 119.8 in 2011, decreased to 110.2 by the end of 2013 and registered 90.6 in 2014 and 83.8 in 2015.
"Led by the wisdom and insightful vision of its higher leadership, the UAE has been diligently mindful of the global security challenges and developments in the contemporary world. It has endeavored to build solid economic and investment infrastructures in an environment of safety and security, driven by a highly qualified human cadre."
"The UAE is one of the world's most stable and secure countries. This prestigious stature requires all of us, individuals and institutions, to pursue our unrelenting and dedicated efforts to maintain the blessing of security and stability and to protect the highly acclaimed gains achieved by the country in various fields and areas," he added.
Shaikh Saif pointed out that the UAE will remain a model of modernity and development, and will unceasingly lend its support to drive forward the march of excellence and innovation, which is nothing short of essential in today's contemporary world in order to reach a more secure, stable, and prosperous life.
Knives, swords and other bladed weapons
Answering a question about assaults with knives, swords and other bladed weapons, Shaikh Saif said: "The challenges of dealing with criminal behaviours are increasing globally; however, the UAE has registered the lowest rates, whereas assaults with swords, knives and other bladed weapons in the UAE accounted for only 0.9 per cent of the total number of violent crimes."
The Ministry of Interior has taken a set of measures to achieve this objective, notably organising awareness drives for school students, as well as awareness programs via the different mass media and social networking sites about the dangers of carrying and using knives; all of which are intended to educate community members, especially the youth, about the penalties and legal accountability regarding the possession of offensive bladed weapons. The ministry has also endeavored to raise awareness amongst parents on the need to supervise their children and to know who their friends are; urging them to prevent their children from carrying these weapons, which may compromise their safety and safety of other community members.
"Some 86.5 per cent of people in UAE are satisfied with their security during the day, while the satisfaction rate is 84.5 per cent at night," Shaikh Saif said, stressing that the UAE relies on the statistics carried out by an independent impartial entity, the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR).
According to MoI officers who spoke at the meeting, the Ministry has stepped up its efforts in the fight against crime, by adopting a number of strategies; notably enacting laws and legislations that would contribute to reducing the prevalence of crimes; as well as establishing educational and awareness centers to combat crime in all its forms and manifestations.
The MoI also reiterated its commitment to combat all types of crime by approving legislations aimed at deterring and eradicating crime. It is working as per its strategic plan to achieve the UAE Vision 2021, by constantly consulting and cooperating with key partners to attain the UAE Government's aspirations.
The MoI also stressed its unrelenting keenness to resort to the latest methods, based on a scientific and carefully planned methodology to explore the future and establish developmental policies and systems to keep security work on the right track towards achieving quality performance, boosting productivity in police work; enhancing its capacity and improving its performance in the various areas of work.
This would allow the Ministry to better shoulder its responsibilities and fulfill its important role in maintaining security in support of the development process that the UAE is witnessing in the various fields.
The MoI also underscored its commitment to pursue proactive planning as an essential component in all of its activities and at all levels. This is achieved by adopting the an internal security strategy; identifying the goals of police work; ensuring ongoing follow-up of action plans and performance throughout the year; and highlighting the achievements via documented periodic performance assessment reports on police and security work, which can be referred to, in order to improve decision-making efforts in the quest to achieve further development of police work.
Traffic during fog Answering a question about the possibility of approving a federal law to stop traffic movement during foggy weather, Shaikh Saif explained to FNC members that the UAE Government has formed work teams a few years ago to implement the smart towers project across Abu Dhabi. He also noted that the system will soon be deployed on all roads across the UAE.
The MoI pointed out that the project will yield a positive impact on reducing accidents that occur due to low visibility during foggy weather, by proactively predicting foggy conditions and informing motorists of the changing speed limits.
A study has also been conducted to implement the smart towers project on the federal road network in the rest of the emirates in the UAE, following the outstanding results it demonstrated upon its implementation on Al Raha Beach in Abu Dhabi.
Shaikh Saif also pointed out that 100 school buses were fitted with the smart system, which monitors the movement of children since the minute they leave the house to go to school. The system allows parents to check up on their children during the bus ride to and from school, and is set to be deployed at the countrywide level.
The MoI also mentioned that the traffic and patrols departments in the UAE prevent heavy and industrial vehicles from using the roads during low visibility caused by weather conditions, which may compromise the safety of motorists and other road users, in pursuance of article 67 of the UAE Federal Traffic Law No. 21 of 1995.
He also responded to a question about setting speed limits on federal roads. He explained that a unified speed limit buffer is implemented across the UAE.
Shaikh Saif noted that a Federal Traffic Council was established in a bid to unify traffic standards, specifications and practices nationwide.
"The speed limits displayed on the traditional road signs are the regulatory limits, and motorists are mandated to abide by these limits; and violating them will incur a fine."
Shaikh Saif thus urged motorists to avoid violating the designated speeds (legal speed), in accordance with article 38 of the UAE Federal Traffic Law No. 21 of 1995.
The MoI noted that the speed limit and radar buffer setting are designed to ensure adherence of motorists to the designated speeds and help preserve the lives and safety of road users.
It is worth mentioning that the radar buffer setting is not announced in most international practices. The speed grace margin was set for the following reasons:
- The technical differences in the traffic control requirements to compensate the margin of error in a car speedometer, and speed values measured by the radars, to check if the driver has indeed exceeded the legal speed limits.
- The difference in the engineering, design and quality of roads in each emirate.
- The diversity of roads and their use. There are, for example, routes designated only for trucks in some emirates that are not available in other emirates; therefore the speed buffer cannot be unified on all roads.
Shaikh Saif said that the number of traffic accidents fatalities has decreased by 54.7 per cent between 2008 and 2015. He attributed this improvement in safety levels to the diligent efforts exerted by the MoI.
"These efforts included implementing a comprehensive traffic safety plan, intensifying awareness-raising efforts, implementing a comprehensive strategy, increasing enforcement efforts, deploying automated traffic control devices, and developing a system to identify motorists who jump red lights."
He added that the MoI has been keen to implement its comprehensive traffic safety plan based on international systems and practices, and to conduct an ongoing benchmarking process with traffic safety systems enforced in advanced countries.
"The Ministry has also has executed many comprehensive initiatives and projects with an innovative approach based on the integration of all traffic safety improvement elements; notably developing a system to identify motorists who jump red lights, activating and controlling cameras at intersections to identify motorists who speed and run red lights."
Answering a question on the possibility of approving the registration of a vehicle for more than one year for those who wish to do so, Shaikh Saif said that technical inspection and registration renewal fees in the UAE are considerably low, compared to most countries around the world.
He added that based on article 136 of the UAE Federal Traffic Law No. 21 of 1995, owners of (new) vehicles may register their vehicles for two years. The law is applicable across the different vehicles and drivers licensing departments in the UAE.
He also noted that the MoI has endeavored to convert some of the vehicles used in the police to run on natural gas, in cooperation with ADNOC, to help preserve the environment and reduce gas emissions.
The MoI noted that the vehicles registration is linked to the insurance, which, in turn, should be renewed on yearly basis (international and national practice).
Annual renewal also ensures the technical validity of the vehicle, and preserves the safety of the passengers. It also reduces vehicles malfunctions, which may cause traffic congestion on the road.
The Ministry also mentioned that advanced countries such as the USA, Canada, and the UK, allow the registration of the vehicle for more than a year (2-3 years); however, vehicle owners are required to carry out an annual inspection of their vehicles.
Regarding a question on whether a sponsor should pay the return ticket of a runaway domestic worker, Shaikh Saif announced that a new project is being examined, by which national and international companies in the private sector are called to introduce a new insurance package.
Under this new project, insurance companies will cover three cases: in the first case, the insurance company will pay fees incurred due to an absconding domestic workers; in the second case, the company will cover the fees incurred by the sponsor as a result of the domestic worker's failure to pass the medical test, and in case of non-renewal of the worker's residency, the company pays the sponsor Dh 5,000 ; and in the third case, the insurance company will cover the expenses of repatriating the body of a worker to its home country, and pays the sponsor Dh 5,000 as a compensation.
The fight against drugs
During the meeting, the FNC also discussed the efforts to protecting society against drugs. Shaikh Saif answered FNC members queries and explained that nobody is illegally detained in the UAE. He also pointed out that the MoI has managed to provide job opportunities to former inmates, as a part of the programme to qualify inmates to join the workforce, in collaboration with the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT).
He also indicated that the higher leadership has dedicated significant attention to combating drugs locally, regionally, and internationally.
"As a part of its efforts to combat drugs, the MoI has sought to implement several measures, notably intensifying community awareness programs, and boosting awareness of all society segments about the dangers and risks of drug and psychotropic substances abuse."
The MoI also pointed out that according to the World Drug Report 2015, the UAE ranked amongst the countries with the lowest rates of drug-related deaths in 2015. The UAE implemented a wide number of national programmes, in a bid to protect society against drugs. These programmes have contributed to reducing the number of drug abusers by 13 per cent in 2014 and 2015.
Intensified field efforts to combat drugs exerted by the UAE have resulted in achieving a substantial increase in drug arrests by 9 per cent in 2014 and 15 per cent in 2015. On the international level, the UAE has managed to foil 240 international operations and to seize 24 tons of drugs over the past three years, as well as 152 million narcotic pills and 1,187 Kilograms of drugs in 2015.
The MoI pointed out to the ongoing year-long awareness campaigns, especially the ones that are designed to protect families against drugs. The UAE laws supports those efforts by encouraging drug addicts to voluntarily enroll in rehab centers or report their problem to their first or second-degree relatives, by not holding them legally accountable.
On the local level, the MoI reiterated its keenness to coordinate and cooperate with the Ministry of Health on this issue. It also pointed out to its commitment to regularly update the list of internationally banned substances, and to provide sufficient monitoring of the sale of prescription drugs at private pharmacies and clinics, based on the United Nations Convention.
The Ministry also announced the launch of an electronic system that will monitor the prescription and sale of drugs. The programme will be linked to insurance companies in hospitals, and pharmacies across the UAE, and will analyse and store information included in the medical prescriptions.
The project will provide the necessary regulatory decisions on controlled drugs in the public and private sectors across the UAE, based on analysis of data related to the sale of prescription drugs and the management of the controlled drugs, as well as the process of prescribing drugs and buying them.
The MoI also noted that a set of work plans and programmes has been established, commensurate with the international standards pertaining to the fight against online drug trafficking.
These programmes require coordination and cooperation with the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) in order to implement technological programs to detect drug dealers and abusers online. The MoI also works on pursuing age-appropriate awareness programs in accordance with international standards.
The programmes shed the light on the dangers of drugs and their health, psychological and social consequences via social media. The MoI also established the Anti-Narcotics Council and the Higher National Sub-Committees (countering drugs; preventing drugs; treatment, rehabilitation, and social integration); in addition to the Anti-Drugs Award.
Online promotion sites
Shaikh Saif explained that the drug scourge represent a challenge for all countries around the world. This requires cooperation and coordination with other countries in order to limit the prevalence of drug use and abuse, which lead to other aspects of crime.
He also explained that 173 trafficking websites have been blocked over the past three years (2013-2015). As a part of the awareness programmes, the MoI organised 619 workshops and 405 awareness campaigns for schools that benefited 51,170 students and 63,611 trainees.
The MoI also organised e-awareness competitions for students, as well as multiple awareness programmes. These include the 'Aqdar Programme' and others organised by the National Rehabilitation Center, such as 'Fawasel Programme'; and the Patients Training and Education Programme, in addition to lectures at universities and various educational institutions.
The MoI also launched the mobile smart app in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Education Council, and the Teachers and Students Training Program at some of Abu Dhabi Emirate schools. The number of trainees amounted to 1,600 students.
The Family Development Foundation also implemented the Family Training Programme; while Abu Dhabi Media designed a similar program and allocated advertisements and campaigns on social media.
These campaigns include 'They Fooled Me Campaign', the awareness campaign during the 'Hemaya' International Forum, and e-campaign on the dangers of the Internet. The number of tweets on the three campaigns amounted to 61 million tweets.
The MoI also launched the Mukafih Service on the toll-free number 80044; which reported since its launch in the second half of 2015 5,963 awareness calls in order to raise awareness about the health damages of drugs, to allow parents to identify addiction cases in their early stages, provide social and family consulting, and free treatment.
The MoI is keen to attract international experts and substance abuse specialists, to train and qualify national cadres capable of dealing with the medical and psychological problems of addicts.
Recovered former addicts were also given the opportunity to get criminal clearance certificates that are required to find a job in the UAE. This approach includes two aspects: a procedural aspect, represented by the MoI efforts to establish a methodology to issue these certificates; and an executive aspect, to assess the extent to which institutions and companies are willing to hire recovered former addicts.
Shaikh Saif also explained that the MoI has launched many strategic initiatives that aim to support former Emirati convicts in order to ensure their integration into society. This is achieved by facilitating their efforts to obtain job opportunities at government and private institutions and adopting transparency in issuing criminal clearance certificates to enable them secure a job, while maintaining their privacy.
A tribute to the Armed Forces
Shaikh Saif expressed respect and appreciation for the officers of the UAE Armed Forces and brave soldiers. He praised their victories in Yemen, in support of the legitimate government. He also emphasised the higher leadership's commitment to support the Armed Forces in order to enable them to face challenges.
He said that the higher leadership has also been keen to lend assistance to government institutions in their effort to face security challenges and developments.