New changes to the penal code came into effect in the UAE on Sunday, including higher fines and harsher punishments for some crimes. And the power to allow expatriates found guilty of crimes to escape deportation is removed from the judges even though the discretion remains for misdemeanours. Immediate deportation for some crimes is also included in the new reforms.
Chief Justice Mustafa Abu El Naja, head of the Abu Dhabi Appeals Court said the it was dangerous to keep persons who were charged with heinous crimes. “While it was optional, there were crimes for which we chose to issue deportation, such as murder because it is dangerous to keep this person in society,” he said.
“Also in cases of prostitutes, for instance, why hold her in jail, feed her and pay her costs for six months, instead of deporting her immediately,” the Chief Justice added.
The maximum fines for people convicted of various crimes have also hiked. Fine for crimes has been raised to Dh1 million from Dh100,000, and to Dh300,000 and Dh30,000 for misdemeanours.
For companies or other agencies, the fine has been raised to Dh500,000 from Dh50,000
“Lately there has been an increase in murder cases, especially those committed by locals and related to ‘honour’,” Al Rawashdeh said. “The offender thinks to himself, ‘I will spend a few years in prison and then get out or get released by a pardon,” he added.
Ten years of imprisonment was replaced by the death penalty for undermining state security during war times.
“It does not necessarily have to be a dangerous crime, but its increase could have dangerous results, especially with cases of state security.” El Naja said.
Reforms included changing “obligation to work” to “community service”. The new laws included it as one measure to which an offender can be sentenced.