The United Arab Emirates has a strict no –tolerance policy when it comes to drug trafficking. The Federal Law no. 14 of 1995 on 'the control of narcotics and psychotropic substances and its amendments commonly referred to as the 'Drug law' criminalizes the production, import, export, transport, buying, selling, storing and possessing of narcotic and psychotropic substances in the UAE.
Pursuant to Article 39 of the UAE drug law, 'Whoever abuses in any manner, possesses with the intention of abuse or personally uses in the circumstances other than those authorized any narcotic or psychotropic substances set forth in schedules 1, 2, 4 and 5 enclosed herewith shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of two years at least. 'The court may, in addition to the said penalty, impose a fine amounting to ten thousand Dirhams at least.
When the narcotic or psychotropic substances are classified under schedule 3 ,6, 7 or 8 of the UAE drugs laws then pursuant to Article 40 , the punishment could include imprisonment of 6 months to two years along with the fine of up to 10,000 dirhams. Article 40(1) of the UAE drugs law state that, 'Whoever abuses in any manner, possesses with the intention of abuse or personally uses in circumstances other than those authorized any narcotic or psychotropic substance provided for in schedules 3, 6, 7 and 8 enclosed herewith shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a period of six months at least and two years at most. The court may, in addition to the said penalty, impose a fine amounting to ten thousand Dirhams at least'.
When the offender is a foreigner, then additional deportation will also apply once the sentence is served. This is pursuant to article 63 of the said law, which states, 'In addition to the sanctions set forth herein, the foreigner convicted in any of the crimes set forth herein shall be deported by virtue of a court order.'
The punishment for drug abuse in the UAE could also include life imprisonment as well and as a death sentence depending on the gravity of the crime. The UAE courts issue death sentence when death or permanent harm has been caused to a victim due to drug trafficking or other intentional acts in contravention to the drug laws.
It is a key point to understand is that the UAE courts establish the crime of drug trafficking when a person is guilty possessing of drugs. As established in UAE cassation court decisions, the crime of drug tracking is establishing if the accused is found guilty of both possessing and supplying the drugs, irrespective of whether the accused consumed the drugs or not. This constitutes ample proof for the detention of the accused, and hence any defense of non -consumption of drugs proves irrelevant before the courts.
The UAE police have dedicated departments to deal with drugs' issues. In recent years the UAE has taken many progressive measures to handle drug abuse in society. The most progressive step includes the amendments to article 43 of the UAE drug laws effected in 2016, which states that no criminal proceedings will be instituted against a drug abuser when the person voluntarily presents themselves to the investigative authorities and seeks treatment.
1- No criminal proceedings shall be instituted against any abuser of narcotics or psychotropic substances who voluntarily presents himself or is presented by his/her spouse or one of his/her relatives to the second degree to an addiction treatment unit, the Public Prosecution or the police requesting treatment in the unit. The abuser shall remain in the unit until it takes the decision to release him.
2- In cases where the abuser is not confined to the Public Prosecution, the confining entity must obtain the Public Prosecution's approval upon the abuser confinement, release, non-commitment to the plan of treatment or failure to hand over narcotic substances in his possession to take the necessary actions for the institution of the criminal proceedings.
3- The provision of clause (1) of this Article shall not apply to the abuser whom the unit deems he/she did not commit to the prescribed treatment plan.
4- The period of treatment and rehabilitation shall not exceed two years.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.