UAE Arrest and Prison Process
Thanks to Simon for talking to us about his accounts of the judicial process in Dubai. Here’s what to expect if you’re accused of a crime in the UAE
“This IS how Dubai works…
You will be taken to the police station that is local to where the incident occurred. Where no-one will tell you much, and you’ll end up in one of the cells, these aren’t particularly nice places and everyone will try to rip you off, so if you have some cash (you’ll be searched before you go in, so no mobiles etc.) keep it secure and don’t “large it”. You can buy phonecards for access to the telephone, you will not be given a fee phone call, you can buy toiletries and snacks inside but they’ll be at rip-off prices, ie 1 packet of cigarettes AED50!! You won’t (unless it’s very, very quiet) get a bed, you’ll be lucky to get a mattress and blanket, the showers are disgusting, the toilets even worse. Ring your Embassy by all means, but they can’t get you out…
You may be offered bail at this point if you’re a good blagger, but usually you wont.
By law you MUST be seen by the public prosecutor within 48 hours of arrest (unless unfit by drink, injury or drugs), in order to satisfy this requirement you will be seen by a police officer within 24 hours of your arrest where you will be asked about the circumstances of the incident. TELL THE TRUTH. It’ll be worse for you if you don’t.
You will be asked to sign a document in Arabic, up to you, you don’t know what you’re signing and if it goes to court then your sig is on it, so tough. You can demand that it gets translated into your mother tongue BUT this will slow down the process.
When you get to the Public Prosecutor (Neeabba (phonetically)), you wait for ages – it can be 2am when you’re called to go, he conducts the interrogation in Arabic, you should have a translator, an English translator is always there, if you speak Spanish only (for example) then you’ll need to wait for a few more days in the cells until you can be seen with a translator. You will be asked to sign your statement that’s written in Arabic, again, up to you, if you refuse, the document will go to the translation dept in the PP’s office, when it comes out in your language sign it. While you’re at the PP’s office ask for bail, the PP will decide whether or not he’s going to give you it and under what circumstances. It will always include your’s and, if you only have a visit visa, another passport with valid residency stamp. KEEP THIS DOCUMENT (even though it’s written in Arabic) you’ll need it to get bail.
Assuming bail conditions can be satisfied, you can be bailed at the police station of your arrest for a period of x days.
Take a note of your case number, you can get updates of what is happening by calling PP’s call centre on 700040000, then 2,1,7, (it’s a “Push 2 for English” type system), but you need either the case number (on top of the document from PP or the police file number (on your arrest paper – both in Arabic).
Lawyer’s. Depending on the severity of your case and how much money you have depends on whether it’s worth hiring a lawyer. a lawyer will charge you in advance and you have no recourse, they may not even turn up in court, but will send their minion. Up to you, for example, you’re drunk and/or had a fight, don’t bother, you’re drink driving, don’t bother.
At court you’ll have a translator (or you should have) if you do not it’ll be adjourned, all conversation takes place in Arabic and you will have no idea what’s being said, the translator will not give you word-for-word, he’ll summarise and quite often will miss out salient points. He doesn’t care. You can always bring your own (paid for) translator but they’re $$$. If you have a lawyer he’ll say everything to the judge and ignore you, you’ll probably say nothing but confirm your name. Judges don’t like anything other than Arabic spoken in the courtroom.
There are 3 people on the bench, the judge is in the centre, his male secretary is on his left, and the Public Prosecutor (who is also the judges sponsor) sits on his right. Surprisingly most defendants (c90%) are found guilty….
You can appeal the verdict as soon as it’s given (unless you’re still in custody where it’s off to Al Awir for you and you appeal the next day). It costs AED10 to appeal and your appeal will be heard when ever it’s heard 3-8 weeks depending on how busy things are.
(Men, I don’t know any women who’ve gone through this part). You get to central jail in Al Awir having spent 6 hours in the cells below the courthouse…. Where you get given a white uniform, no coloured anythings allowed, so white pant/socks etc.. You’re then searched again (hash and phones have been found in there and certainly in police cells) and off you go to the transit section where you may if you’re lucky get a bed, but more likely you’ll be on your blanket (which isn’t washed) on the floor. Each “Amber” – room – has 96 bunks making a total of 192 beds. Later your photo gets taken and the next day you’re transferred to your amber for the duration of your sentence.
Breakfast is served at 5am, lunch at 11am and supper at 5pm. Hope you like rice….
there is a shop there that sells stuff like crisps, coke, choc, phonecards, toiletries, you’re allowed to go twice a week.
there are phone booths there and depending on what you’ve been done for depends on how often you can use them – illegal sex, ie living with a woman who isn’t your wife, and it’s once a week for 5 minutes, (this is what my mate was done for, and he didn’t have sex with her, she robbed him of AED60K, he reported it and was done for living with her).
On day of release you’re let out of the jail, hope you’ve got transport cos it’s a long walk…”