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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

UAE legal Q&As: can I eat pork at work?

A reader asks if it is acceptable to eat pork at work and another asks if someone can be brought to justice for posting slanderous content on Facebook

Are there any laws forbidding the consumption of pork in the workplace amid Muslim colleagues?

Consuming pork is not illegal for non-Muslims in the UAE. If a Muslim is caught eating pork they could be fined or jailed under article 312 of the UAE Federal Penal Law .

While the UAE is a religious and conservative country, there is nothing to stop a non-Muslim from publicly eating pork products. Though, out of courtesy for others, discretion is advised.

If a UAE resident posts content on Facebook with the intention of hurting another residents’ reputation, what recourse does the victim have to bring the offender to justice? Can the moderators of the Facebook group where the content was shared also be found legally liable?

Social media activity by UAE residents is governed by the Federal Decree 5 for the year 2012 which is also known as the Cyber Crime Law.

As per article 20 of the related law, actions such as the one described by you are penalised by heavy fines and imprisonment as following:

Insulting or slandering someone online or using IT is punishable with imprisonment and / or a fine between Dh250,000 and Dh500,000.

Filing charges against an offender is carried out the same way as any crime would be. Public Prosecution will investigate the incident then refer the criminal to the court of law.

The penalty will be imposed on the individual who committed the crime. The moderators or administrators of an online social media group will not be criminally liable unless they participated in the illegal action themselves.

I have been told that police or CID can stop motorists and check the contents of their mobile phones. Is this possible or even legal?

A police officer can only confiscate a mobile phone from someone under certain circumstances. For example, if they are thought to have witnessed a crime.

A device can only be confiscated and searched through if the prosecution grants approval — like a search warrant.

Police are only likely to seize a mobile phone if it is probable that its contents will help them solve a case.

So no, not without approval from prosecutors can a police or CID officer search your phone.

If you have a question for our lawyer, please email it to newsdesk@thenational.ae with the subject line 'Know the law'.