The United Arab Emirates has one of the lowest crime rate in the world. They use capital punishment sparingly but they have a low homicide rate too. I will post several news sources from the U.A.E to show the safeguards of trials. Their method of execution is the Firing Squad, I hope they leave it as it is and never use the lethal injection.
Amnesty International's Sharia criticism rejected by UAE judge
Apr 4, 2011
A legal official has hit back at an Amnesty International report condemning capital punishment in the region, saying UAE law and Sharia are explicit on how and why the death penalty is used.
Twenty-eight people were sentenced to death in the Emirates last year, including some individuals under the age of 18, the report said.
The rights organisation said the UAE, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan had "ignored international prohibitions" on executing minors.
But a judge at the Federal Supreme Court said that under Article 1 of the penal code, certain offences including murder, sex outside of wedlock, drugs, theft and alcohol must be tried under Sharia.
He said murder and drug trafficking offences can bring the death penalty.
"The death penalty for murder is the original sentence - a judge cannot ignore it," said the official, who did not wish to be named.
"Murder is an issue that has to do with the victim's family, and it is not up to the judge to rule against it unless the family accepts diyya [blood money] or forgives the killer.
"If we do not sentence a killer to death, the victim's family will seek revenge, and that would cause a problem in our society."
As for executing minors, he said, Sharia clearly states when a person becomes an adult.
"The point is to determine when a person is an adult - when he or she can decide what is wrong and what is right," he said.
In Islamic law, judges define adulthood as when a person has reached puberty.
It is up to the judge to decide adult criminal responsibility based on any physical evidence of puberty.
The official said that Amnesty International had raised these issues before, ignoring UAE explanations.
"We clarified our standards but they keep repeating the same points."
The Amnesty report, entitled Death Sentences and Executions 2010, released last Monday, also found that although the death penalty was regularly handed down in the Emirates, it was rarely carried out.
The international human rights organisation's research concluded that the Middle East and Asia were responsible for most executions in the world.
"At least 28 death sentences were imposed in the United Arab Emirates in 2010, mostly for drug trafficking, murder and rape," the 52-page global report found.
"There were no reported executions in Afghanistan, Indonesia, Mongolia, Pakistan, St Kitts and Nevis and the UAE, although these countries were known to have carried out executions up to 2008 or 2009."
The report referred to the cases of 17 Indians sentenced to die for the murder of a Pakistani; and of three Emiratis, including a woman, and a Bangladeshi national on death row for premeditated murder.
"While executions may be on the decline, a number of countries continue to pass death sentences for drug-related offences, economic crimes, sexual relations between consenting adults and blasphemy, violating international human rights law forbidding the use of the death penalty except for the most serious crimes," Salil Shetty, the Amnesty International secretary general, said in a statement.
Fewer people were executed worldwide last year, with 527 put to death compared with 714 in 2009.
China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States and Yemen were the most frequent executioners.
School bus assault: Court clears bus trio
Prosecution case falls flat as Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance finds no evidence that the bus employees molested the four-year-old school girl
- By Lubna Bagsair and Sharmila Dhal, XPRESS
- Published: 00:00 April 7, 2011
Image Credit: © XPRESS / Ramachandra Babu
The court maintained the prosecution’s case was based only on the testimony of the child’s mother, with little evidence to back it.
Dubai: A Dubai Criminal Court on Wednesday acquitted all three Indian men charged with molesting a four-year-old girl on a school bus in November last year.
The verdict was based on medical and forensic reports, absence of a translator and contradictory confessions made by the accused during investigations.
Neither the girl's parents nor the defendants were present when the verdict was announced in Chamber No 4.
Dismissing the charges of sexual assault, the court said the prosecution's case was based only on the testimony of the child's mother, with little evidence to back it.
Wednesday's verdict came nearly three months after the Indian mother filed a police complaint saying that her child, a student of Gems-run Dubai Modern High School, was sexually assaulted on the school bus on her way back home on November 11 last year.
The allegations sparked a nationwide outcry, prompting many schools, including Gems, to review school bus security.
Many schools announced installing CCTV cameras and GPS to track the movement of both buses and students. Some institutions even announced that they would substitute male conductors with female attendants.
In its 35-page verdict, signed by Presiding Judge Fahmi Mounir Fahmi, and members Judge Jasem Mohammad Ebrahim and Maher Salama Al Mahdi, the court stated that the confessions of the accused - one bus driver and two conductors - were invalid because they were not provided with a translator during the interrogation. This violates Article 70 of the Procedure Law which states that a translator must be present when non-Arabic speakers are questioned.
The "confessions" were inconsistent with forensic reports, the court ruled.
Court papers show that the first defendant J.T. told prosecutors that when the bus stopped, he stepped out to get a bottle of water. Another defendant, M.B., approached the girl, who was the only student in the bus at that time, and held her on his lap.
J.T. told prosecutors that when he returned, he found M.B. and V.S., the second and third accused, groping the girl, who was lying on the seat and crying. J.T. said he joined the suspects in molesting the girl and comforted her by giving her a candy. Records show J.T. saw blood on the girl's clothes and on the seat.
But a forensic examination found no traces of blood on the bus or the girl's clothes.
A forensic expert testified that blood traces don't fade away within months and traces, if any, would have been found.
The court also considered reports submitted by a panel of doctors set up by the Justice Ministry concluding that the child is still a virgin and the redness found on her private parts was caused by lack of hygiene and not due to friction or assault. There were no penetrations and any such violations would have left traces, the report added.
Additionally, the court noted that V.S., was not on the bus and several witnesses testified he was onboard another bus at the time of the alleged incident.
The court also considered the defence plea that the suspects were beaten and coerced to confess.
The court noted that the prosecution relied only on the mother's testimony, which was not sufficient as there was little evidence to support it.
The suspects are expected to be released shortly.
The prosecutors have 15 days to appeal.
The girl's parents declined to comment on the verdict.
Acquitted bus driver could be reinstated
The acquitted bus driver in the sexual assault case could be reinstated by his transport company, XPRESS has learnt.
"If everything is clear and the court does not have any objection, we will reinstate the driver," said Col M.L. Augustine, Managing Director of School Transport Services (STS).
The driver, along with two conductors, was suspended in January following allegations of the sexual assault against a four-year-old student of the Modern High School.
An immediate comment was not available on whether the conductors, who are on the payroll of the GEMS school management, would also be reinstated. "If we get the clearance, we will accommodate any change in position the driver may want," said Augustine. Any compensation due to him for the period he was under suspension would also be considered, he added.
Meanwhile, the news of the Indian trio's acquittal on Wednesday was welcomed by their peers who said their morale had taken a huge beating as the fraternity was subjected to social stigma over the past three months.
"People were rude to us and looked at us with suspicion. We hope we will now get our respect back," said driver Kumar Raja.
"We went through a lot of tension. Our families too suffered and were afraid for us," said driver Aneesh of Modern High School.
"During this case, many of our 2,000 drivers and conductors have had their character and integrity questioned, some have been verbally and physically assaulted," a statement by STS said.
Many of the drivers present felt the move to bring in female conductors would have some limitations. "It will be difficult (for the female conductors) to clean the buses," said one of them. "Making children cross the road will also be a problem as women tend to be indecisive," said another driver.
Augustine said the STS, which has introduced GPS and electronic attendance on its buses, has obtained the go-ahead of the Roads and Transport Authority for the installation of CCTV cameras. "We are now waiting for the approval of the police."
GEMS welcomes verdict, cautions against trial by media
GEMS group which was in the eye of a storm over the much-publicised case appears vindicated following Wednesday's vedict. "GEMS Education notes that the Dubai Court has reached a conclusion that no rape or molestation of one of its students by the accused in the case has occurred, thereby conclusively refuting assertions which appeared in certain sections of the media that GEMS Education or Dubai Modern High School has failed to protect its students," a spokesperson for Gems Education said in a media statement to XPRESS.
"From the outset there were question marks surrounding the allegation against the accused, including the fact that one of the accused was not present on the bus on the day of the alleged incident, and the GPS records showing that there was no opportunity for a crime to have been committed during the time and in the location as was alleged. However, as we stated on several occasions, we preferred to leave it to the Dubai Courts to seek the truth, whatever that truth may be. In the interest of the safety and well-being of our students in general, we are thus relieved that the court has now confirmed that no crime has been committed. As GEMS has emphasized throughout, our students' safety is our main priority," said the spokesperson.
"These men are family men, fathers with young children, loving husbands who we understand have endured not only immense emotional, but also physical suffering. Their character and integrity have been subjected to attack by many sections of the community. We would caution against people conducting trials by media, and remember that all accused are innocent until proven guilty. It is important to let justice take its rightful course," the statement added.
- November 11, 2010: Four-year-old allegedly molested by driver and two conductors
- January 9, 2011: Parents file police complaint
- January 13: Three accused in police custody
- March 17: Accused plead not guilty in Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance
- March 23: Court hears defence lawyers who accuse girl's mother of blackmailing school into getting a job.
- April 6: Court holds accused not guilty
Key grounds for aquittal
- NO EVIDENCE IN FORENSICS AND MEDICAL REPORT: No trace of blood or semen was found on the bus or the girl's clothes.
- VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 70: No translator was provided to the three accused during confession, a violation of a Procedure Law.
- INCONSISTENT CONFESSIONS: Confessions made by the accused before the police contradicted medical and forensic findings.
Majority of UAE supports execution
Aug 6, 2011
DUBAI // Almost two-thirds of residents back the death penalty and almost three-quarters support execution for murder, a new survey suggests.
The poll, compiled for Al Aan TV’s Nabd al Arab (Arabs’ Pulse) programme by YouGov Siraj, shows that 65 per cent of residents disagree with abolishing the death penalty.
The results are contradictory, of those who said they favoured abolition of the death penalty, some also said they supported the execution of murderers.
Asked to select which of nine crimes, from theft to murder, should be punishable by death, 8 per cent favoured capital punishment for all of them.
Murder and rape drew the strongest responses, at 72 per cent and 60 per cent. Thirteen per cent supported execution for drunk driving, and nearly 18 per cent for sex outside of marriage. Forty-six per cent of the survey respondents said drug smuggling should be punished by death, and 51 per cent said child abuse deserved capital punishment.
Nearly 9 per cent said thieves should get the death penalty. Execution for corruption was supported by 17 per cent, and 12 per cent favoured it for domestic abuse.
The most recent death sentence to be carried out was that of Rashid Al Rashidi, who killed four-year-old Moosa Mukhtiar Ahmed. He was executed by firing squad in February.
Including Al Rashidi, there have been nine executions since 2004.
Ahmed Ibrahim Saif, Chief Justice of the Dubai Criminal Court, said judges were not overusing or underusing capital punishment.
“The law made it mandatory that a panel of three judges agree to give the death penalty, because it’s a person’s life they are determining to end or keep,” he said.
Other judges also expressed their faith in the current system. They said crimes such as domestic violence or child abuse were broadly defined under the law, giving a wide range of discretion for punishment and providing judges with the freedom they need to make an appropriate decision.
“Some people walk to crime, while others, the crime comes to them,” one judge said.
Another judge said he supported amending the law to make capital punishment mandatory for drug trafficking. “Such crimes destroy nations,” he said.
Chief Justice Saif pointed out that there already had been changes in drug laws. “Laws change according to changes among people and community conditions,” he said. For instance, he said, cases of drug use were once tried at misdemeanours courts and punished by a few months in prison.
Now they are referred to courts of first instance, where those convicted can be sentenced to up to four years in prison.
The lawyer Hamid Al Khazraji said the law imposed the death penalty appropriately. Any changes should be governed by the severity of the crime, he said.
“In several cases in which death is the punishment, the court has reduced the sentence to life in light of the evidence presented.
This brings to light the real role of the prosecution, which is to provide a solid case and tangible evidence to the court.”
The first female clerk at Dubai Criminal Court, Bushra Al Dhubai, said heinous crimes merited capital punishment if those convicted were adults. “Executions are rarely carried out on criminals in Dubai, but some crimes strongly deserve the death penalty, like rape,” Ms Al Dhubai said.
Maysoon Baraky, presenter of Nabd al Arab, said that while the survey found a large majority in favour of retaining the death penalty, it also found that “treating prisoners humanely stays a major issue to Arabs across the region”.
The survey polled 151 people and the margin of error was 8 per cent.
Nabd al Arab is on Al Aan TV at 8pm tonight.
UAE death sentence for Briton and Syrian to face significant checks
|Former Chief Justice Ahmad Ebrahim Saif|
Jun 27, 2012
DUBAI // Sunday’s sentencing to death of two young men for selling Dh1,500 worth of marijuana to an undercover policeman is almost certain to be overturned, according to experts.
Drug dealing is one of six serious crimes that carry a maximum penalty of death under federal law. The others are terrorism, rape, espionage and converting from Islam.
However, experts yesterday stressed that in every instance in which a lower court has issued a death sentence for drugs crimes over the past five years, the penalty has been overturned by higher courts.
The two men, a 19-year-old Syrian and a 21-year-old Briton, were given the death sentence at the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court.
They had been arrested after a CID officer posing as a customer bought 20 grams of marijuana. The officer had earlier bought Dh500 worth to test and confirm it was marijuana.
A Sudanese co-defendant was sentenced to one year in jail and deportation for consuming the drug, while a 17-year-old Emirati was sent for rehabilitation.
The Briton’s lawyer said yesterday that they will definitely appeal the verdict, adding that it was unusual for a drug dealer to receive a death sentence when not dealing massive amounts.
A spokesman for the UK’s foreign office told Reuters that officials were in close contact with the Briton’s legal team and were providing consular assistance, but said they could not get involved in the UAE’s judicial process.
Judges and legal experts stressed that the death sentence faced strict protocols and checks.
A panel of three judges at the Court of First Instance must be unanimous in their verdict.
According to the former chief justice of the Dubai Criminal Court, Chief Justice Ahmed Ibrahim Saif, if any of the three judges disagree then the sentence must be commuted. Any case in which a death sentence is issued must go to the Appeal Court for a second hearing. If the Appeal Court upholds the sentence the case must then be heard by the Court of Cassation or the Federal Supreme Court.
Even if the final court upholds the sentence – and even when the defendant pleads guilty – “an execution still requires the signature of the President or the Ruler of the emirate”, according to Chief Justice Saif.
The Abu Dhabi Criminal Courts Chief Justice, Sayed Abdul Baseer, had previously stressed: “There are strict protocols, checks and balances to executions. We don’t just execute for petty crimes.”
Legal groups yesterday offered support to the families of the two young men.
Radha Stirling, a lawyer and the founder of Detained in Dubai, a charitable organisation which offers support to those jailed in the UAE, said: “It is unimaginable what the families will be going through. It’s unimaginable to have two such young boys sentenced to death so harshly.”
She said, however, she was confident the sentences would be overturned, but warned the court process was lengthy and could take years.
According to Chief Justice Abdul Baseer, even when a defendant pleads guilty to charges punishable by death, the law requires the case to go through all levels of the justice system.
But the death sentence is rarely issued in cases of drug dealing.
An investigation by The National in 2010 found that every death sentence handed down for drug offences since 2007 – more than a dozen in all – was later rejected for procedural errors.
Abu Dhabi Judicial Department officials said most of the sentences were sent back by the Appeals Court before they reached the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the emirate and final point of appeal.
The Court of Cassation cited failures in collecting information, making arrests or in court procedures.
Errors included a translator who was not under oath when translating the defendant’s testimony, a lower court that did not issue a unanimous verdict, an arrest made without a clearance from public prosecution, a video recording of an arrest that was not clear, and confessions incorrectly obtained.
“The Court of Cassation reviewed many death penalties issued by lower courts to defendants convicted of drug trafficking, but the court has not upheld a single case,” an official at the judicial department noted.
Fikri Nasrallah, a legal consultant, said that death penalties for drugs-related offences received greater scrutiny as they went through the higher courts.
“The role of the superior courts is essentially to review verdicts of inferior courts and see if they are legally sound,” Mr Nasrallah said. “Superior courts will often find that police or lower courts followed wrong procedures in arresting or convicting a defendant.”
Mr Nasrallah believes that issuing tough sentences in the lower court has two aims: deterring people from committing such offences, while also giving a convicted person the chance to present a better case in the appeals court.
The death penalty is rooted in Shariah, and despite criticism by rights groups, is widely regarded as irrevocable by jurists throughout the Muslim world.
In fact, even if a Muslim country sought to abolish the death penalty it would be impossible under Shariah, legal experts note. “It is a religious responsibility given to the courts,” said Chief Justice Abdul Baseer.
One poll, compiled for Al Aan TV’s Nabd Al Arab (Arabs’ Pulse) programme by YouGov Siraj last year, showed that 65 per cent of residents were against abolishing the death penalty. But only 46 per cent said drug smuggling should be punished by death.
Because Shariah is implemented in death penalty cases, the standard of evidence has to be extremely high – for instance, officers in a sting operation would not be valid witnesses because they would not be considered independent. “When the Court of Cassation remands [sends back] a death penalty, it must be because there was a mistake in the legal procedures,” said Magistrate Abdulaziz Al Mulla of the Judicial Department, who specialises in Shariah.
“We have three levels in our court system. That is why the sentence of the lower court is usually heavy.”
Officials in the Ministry of Interior last year revealed that Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, had ordered all concerned authorities to evaluate current anti-narcotics laws and suggest reforms.
A death sentence issued in February 2010 in Ras Al Khaimah to five traffickers who attempted to sell more than 5kg of heroin and hashish worth Dh50,000 was described as a “strong” warning to others.
Judge Bilal Abd El Baqi, who presided over the panel of judges in that case, said the punishment was in accordance with the law of the land. “It [the verdict] has many dimensions,” he said. “It is to keep the stability of the community and to keep the health of all people in general; to keep the economy straight. And above all of this, it is the implementation of the law.”
Dubai differs from Abu Dhabi in its approach to the federal drugs law. The large number of drugs cases that arise from smugglers targeting the emirate’s airport have led to a policy introduced in August 2008 by the Dubai Public Prosecutors office.
Under this policy, visitors caught with less than 20 grams of illegal drugs at Dubai International Airport can be deported immediately rather than jailed for up to four years.
Cases are referred to the Attorney General’s technical office to determine if suspects should or should not be referred to court, according to then Bur Dubai second public prosecution chief prosecutor, Mohammad Ali Rustom.
* With additional reporting by Haneen Dajani.
Judicial safeguards exist in capital cases
Jun 27, 2012
Let the wheels of the judicial system work their course. The news reported yesterday - that two men, a 19-year-old Syrian and a 21-year-old Briton, were sentenced to death for dealing drugs - has already excited controversy in both the UAE and abroad. But the case is far from over, and now depends on the appellate proceedings.
In UAE courts, decisions made by the Courts of First Instance can be appealed before both the Court of Appeals and the Court of Cassation. In fact, a process of four appeals is possible. A case is not closed after the first verdict is issued - often sentences are reduced or changed during the appellate process.
Death sentences are automatically appealed. While it would be pointless to speculate about this most recent case, there are plenty of precedents from other capital punishment cases.
The requirements for upholding and carrying out a death sentence are extremely high in the UAE. In 2010, The National reported that every death sentence handed down for drug offences over recent years had been rejected by the Court of Cassation on procedural grounds. The court cited failures in collecting information, in making arrests or in trial procedures. Examples included a translator who had not been under oath while translating a defendant's testimony, a verdict that had not been issued unanimously, an arrest that had been made without a clearance from public prosecution, and concerns about the quality of video evidence.
The UAE takes drugs crimes extremely seriously. Every person on UAE soil is responsible for understanding the law and acting accordingly. The tough laws have helped to establish a society that is remarkably drug free, although anecdotal evidence in recent years has indicated a slow increase in drug-related crime, especially involving young people.
The country is known for strict sentencing for drug-related crimes, and that includes drug use as well as the more serious crimes of distribution and trafficking. But strict sentencing is accompanied by a lengthy appeals process and rigorous judicial review.
In capital cases, the higher courts have made clear that defendants will have every recourse to appeal. That will be the same in this recent case as with any other.