UAE legal reforms: Dubai court overrules deportation of man in drug case

Lawyer says judgment sets precedent for deportation cases after drug consumption

An Egyptian man smokes a hashish cigarette, or joint in Cairo on October 26, 2008. Photo: Victoria Hazou for the National.
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A Dubai court has overruled a final deportation sentence of a man in a drug case.

The emirate's Criminal Court of First Instance ruled against its previous judgment after taking into account the newly amended drug laws that were introduced last year.

The revised verdict may open a window of hope for others who are convicted of consuming drugs.

A change in the law removes mandatory deportation for drug offenders and, from January 2, 2022, gives judges greater sentencing discretion.

My client has been living in the UAE along with his family which owns a business he runs, for over 30 years. Deporting him breaks the family apart
Mohammad Al Redha, defence lawyer

The case dates to November 30, 2020, when the Indian man, 38, was arrested for smoking hashish.

Police officers found drugs at his home in Downtown Dubai and lab tests confirmed he had consumed hashish.

On March 3, 2021, the Criminal Court of First Instance fined him Dh5,000 and ordered his deportation.

The man’s Emirati lawyer Mohammad Al Redha, submitted a plea requesting the verdict be revised based on Article 75 of the new anti-narcotics law which made deportation in such cases optional for judges.

In his plea, Mr Al Redha also cited Article 14 of the country’s new Penal Code. which stipulates that if the new law eases a certain penalty, it is permissible for the court that issued the final judgment to reconsider its verdict.

“My client has been living in the UAE along with his family which owns a business he runs, for over 30 years. Deporting him breaks the family apart,” Mr Al Redha said.

“He is not a criminal and has no criminal record, and I don’t believe there is any reason to believe he will break the law again.”

Based on his plea, the court revised its verdict and cancelled the man’s deportation on February 7.

In its verdict, the court said that Federal Law number 30 of 2021 is the law that is more valid for the accused.

Federal Law number 30 of 2021 includes rehabilitation of first-time drug offenders, instead of punishing them.

“The new verdict was issued based on documents that prove the convict's residency and business, and the fact that he has no criminal record,” the verdict read.

People convicted in drug-use cases are now able to submit petitions to prosecutors with legal documents that support the reasons for which they think their deportation should be cancelled.

“This case opens a door of hope for other people who were involved in drug use and deportation orders were issued against them,” Mr Al Redha said.

“Most of them have left families behind and separating them from their families through deportation exposes them to even bigger dangers than drugs.”

He said those who have already been deported for being involved in drug-use or possession cases could also submit requests.

“They can hire a lawyer to handle the process and if they have businesses or families here, that will very much support their request,” Mr Al Redha said.

Prosecutors receive these requests, then review if all required legal documents have been provided before referring the request to the court that issued the judgment.

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Updated: February 09, 2022, 8:49 AM