No jail for convicts in minor offences in UAE

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No jail for convicts in minor offences in UAE

Abu Dhabi - Services include voluntary work, house arrest, rehabilitation programmes, curfew hours, as well as cleaning of public areas.

By Jasmine Al Kuttab

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Published: Tue 25 Oct 2016, 5:34 PM

Last updated: Tue 25 Oct 2016, 9:23 PM

Legal experts in the UAE have praised amendments made in the UAE Penal Code, suggesting that it is a positive step towards a healthier society.
Under the new law, offenders convicted with minor offences that were punishable by not more than six months or a fine, will instead do community service of up to three months.
The law, which was issued by the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and will take effect from November 2016, stipulates that the Ministry of Justice, along with the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Emiratisation and Human Resources, will determine the community service given.
Services include voluntary work, house arrest, rehabilitation programmes, curfew hours, as well as cleaning of public areas.
Furthermore, the chief legal representative of the prosecution will oversee the given service, while the court could determine a similar jail sentence term, if those convicted do not abide by the specified community service.
Emirati lawyer Ali Al Abadi praised the penal code overhaul, pointing out that such restorative justice would help the offender become a better person.
"The law changes are a positive step, and although some offenders may see community service as a lenient punishment, it is actually very beneficial for them.
"Community work will teach offenders that providing a helping hand to both the country, as well as their communities is vital."
Also amended was the Federal Decree No. 14 for 1995, pertaining to countermeasures against narcotic drugs and substances.
First time offenders charged under the anti-narcotics law will have a downgraded jail term from four years to two years, while the attorney-general, with advice from prosecutors and police, can send the offender to rehabilitation, which has also been reduced to a minimum of two years from a previous three years, instead of having the case go to court.
Moreover, substance abusers, who are handed to rehabilitation by a family member and remains in treatment until clearance is issued, will not face a penalty.
The recent changes in the anti-narcotics law are also smart initiative, explained Al Abadi.
"Sending drug offenders to rehabilitation will immensely ease any overcrowding in prisons."
He noted that receiving the proper care and treatment in rehabilitation centres could help drug addicts take back control of their life and start anew, instead of simply serving a jail sentence, among serial criminals.
"Rehab can have a huge affect on shaping an individual, and it is often more successful in the long run, than a jail sentence."
Major changes
Convicts in minor offences to do community service instead of jail term
First time offenders in anti-narcotic law to have downgraded jail term from four to two years
Drug offenders, who are handed to rehabilitation by family, will not face penalty

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