Saturday, November 07, 2020

UAE Liberalizes Personal Status and Penal Laws

The United Arab Emirates today announced liberalizing changes in its Sharia-based personal laws. The Hill, The National, and Emirates News Agency all report on the changes made by Presidential Decree to the Personal Status, Civil Transactions, Penal Code and Criminal Procedural laws.  The changes, many involving protections for foreigners living in the UAE, take effect immediately. They include:

  • Repeal of the provisions allowing more lenient sentences for so-called "honor crimes".
  • Divorces of foreigners who were married abroad will be governed by the laws of their home country instead of Sharia law.
  • The law of a person's home country, rather than Sharia law, will govern division of assets on death where no will is left.
  • Attempted suicide is decriminalized.
  • "Good Samaritans" who intervene to help another person will not be held accountable for the person's injury or death.
  • More severe punishments are set for harassment of women.
  • Death penalty is prescribed for rape of a minor or of someone of limited mental capacity.
  • Alcohol consumption in authorized areas by adults who do not have a license to consume liquor is decriminalized. Typically Muslims have been denied a license.
  • Cohabitation by unmarried couples is decriminalized.
  • Translators will be provided in courts for defendants and witnesses, and evidence involving indecent acts will not be made public.