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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Deportation from the UAE: everything you need to know about the system

From being ejected from the country to handling the appeals process, read our guide to the process

When it comes to some offences, a deportation order is effectively automatic.
When it comes to some offences, a deportation order is effectively automatic.

Drug dealing, sexual assault and violence - all crimes that carry an almost automatic deportation order.

The practice is one of the many tools used by the courts to keep the country safe.

And while the thousands of new residents who arrive in the UAE to work, live and educate their children are largely law abiding, for those that commit a serious crime, ejection is swift.

Here The National looks at how deportation works, and why it is used.

Deportation rids the community of social menace,” said Judge Ahmed Ibrahim Saif, head of Dubai Civil Court and the former chief justice of Dubai Criminal Court.

“Expatriates come to the Emirates to enjoy security and work. It is imperative to get rid of those who commit major crimes, such as committing murder, drugs trafficking and theft."

He added that "there are thousands of people convicted in criminal cases who have been deported from the country," over the years, though he said the courts are more lenient with offenders whose crime is unintentional or non-violent.

There are two types of deportation – legal and administrative.

The first follows a conviction in a criminal case and is issued by a panel of judges in court.

This type of deportation is mandatory and would be used against those who have committed types of sexual assault or rape, for example.

The second is issued by the Ministry of Interior and the bodies related to it, such as the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs and the Ministry of Labour.

It is discretionary and issued against individuals who are thought to be a threat to public safety and welfare.

After any deportation, the name of the person concerned is added to a banned list, so officials are aware of who is not allowed to re-enter.

Someone attempting to do so could be put back on a plane or detained.

Once a deportation order is issued, it is final, meaning they will be taken to the airport and returned to their home country. Often a fine or a prison sentence is served first.

But when someone is deported for an offence that does not pose a threat to the safety and stability of the country, they can appeal, from outside the country.

That person can apply for an exemption through the Ministry of Interior website or they can appoint a lawyer to submit the petition on their behalf.

The Dubai authorities have a committee tasked with examining appeal applications submitted by deportees. Its members study each case and give a decision on whether to cancel the deportation or not.

“There are no specific documents to be submitted along with the pardon request," Judge Saif said.

"The process of dropping a deportation order depends on several factors, including whether it is the first crime he or she was involved in, or whether they pose a threat to the public security and safety."

"For example, providing documents proving that he or she has been living and working in the country for a long time and he has no criminal record previously."

When it comes to some offences, a deportation order is effectively automatic.

“For instance, if a judge does not issue a deportation in the ruling in drug related cases, Public Prosecution will just appeal the ruling, because deportation is seen as a must in such cases," the judge said.

“People involved in cases like bounced cheques or minor assault on the other hand do not necessarily get deported."

Someone under 18 can be deported also.

"For example, we saw a 16-year-old boy who committed thefts several times, he even stole the laptop of an imam in a mosque. Such person should not stay in the country,” said Judge Saif.

Yousef Al Bahar, a Dubai criminal lawyer, said he is currently handling ten cases involving potential deportation for a variety of offences.

He also said deportees seeking to return is common.

“A person who is deported and wants to get back to the country can appoint a lawyer to seek get a pardon. I am dealing with similar cases right now,” he said.

“But whoever commits a major crime must be deported to ensure the public safety."