UAE: crackdown on crime and 'online dissent'

Jail terms for libel or incitement

13 November, 13:29

    Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

    (ANSAmed) - DUBAI, 13 NOV - The UAE has cracked down on internet crimes but also on political dissent online with tough new laws which could result in a prison sentence. Following a decree from UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Al-Nahyan, the creation of sites which deride or damage the reputation of UAE countries - including the misuse of its flags and symbols, is punishable by 3 years in prison, according to Emirates press agency, WAM.

    Prison is also on the cards for anyone who incites civil disobedience or changes to the regime or constitution. These include demonstrations, sit-ins or protests which have not been officially permitted. Thanks to a high standard of living the UAE remained untouched by the Arab Spring, which instead affected nearby Bahrain. However, criticism of the 'system' will not be tolerated. Almost 60 people from Islamic groups have been detained this year, despite no mention of the arrests in the politically straightjacketed press.

    In 2011 organizers of a petition addressed to Sheikh Kalifa were arrested and released a few weeks later. They sought universal suffrage, as well as greater powers for the UAE parliament - the Federal National Council (FNC) which currently only has a consultative role. The government later promised to widen the electoral base and pledged suffrage in 2019, as well as agreeing to consolidate FNC powers.

    The decree includes prison sentences for online prostitution, trafficking of humans or organs, narcotics trafficking - which carries a death sentence in the UAE - and adultery. (ANSAmed).

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