x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

FNC wants clarity on new UAE laws

New laws need to be better publicised, an FNC member tells the Minister of Cabinet Affairs.

ABU DHABI // New laws need to be better publicised, an FNC member has told the Minister of Cabinet Affairs.

In early December, Salim Al Ameri, a member from Abu Dhabi, sent an official letter to Mohammed Al Gergawi complaining that laws were all too often released and enacted without people knowing about them.

The result, he said, was people being penalised for breaking laws they had no idea existed.

In a written response, the minister said the Cabinet sought to educate people affected by new laws through media campaigns, booklets and other publications before the law was introduced.

Media organisations were given contact information for ministry officials to answer pressing questions. Mr Al Gergawi, who appeared before the FNC for further questioning last month, explained that the Government was constitutionally mandated only to publish new laws in the official gazette.

"But over the past few years, there was a lot of coverage in media," he said. "The way we deal with laws depends on the law, and who it is directed to."

While everyone needed to know about some laws, that was not always the case. Where many people did need to be informed about a law, press conferences were held and advertisements were placed in newspapers.

"It depends, does it refer to a certain segment of society, or is it a law that addressed all? So how we deal with laws is different depending on the law," he said.

But Mr Al Ameri said there should be more public seminars to explain new laws. "There is no reason why there should not be seminars. People like to attend them," he said.

A lack of publicity, he said, resulted in people being penalised without understanding why.

The minister countered by pointing to the example of extensive media coverage on Wadeema's law, the new child-protection law.

Other laws, such as the one setting up the wages protection system, were better publicised by direct contact between the ministry concerned and employers.

osalem@thenational.ae