x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Judge bans handcuffs from his court

A judge tells a police officer handcuffs are not allowed in his courtroom.

ABU DHABI // A Federal Supreme Court judge has prohibited the use of handcuffs in his courtroom.

Defendants usually enter the court in cuffs before police remove them.

But Chief Justice Shehab Al Hammadi banned the practice after an officer caused a loud clang when she removed handcuffs from a defendant on Monday.

Chief Justice Al Hammadi, the head of the State Security Court, demanded the officer explain what caused the noise. She apologised, saying she accidentally bumped the cuffs.

Chief Justice Al Hammadi said cuffs should not be brought inside his courtroom and should not be in the defendants' sight. They should not even hear the sound of handcuffs as it would affect their "feelings of freedom", he said.

"These are defendants, they are not convicts, and they have the right that the court provides them justice with its most precise details."

Chief Justice Al Hammadi ordered that in future police remove handcuffs from prisoners outside the courtroom.

This was not the first time he has shown concern over restraints. He adjourned one hearing after defendants entered in shackles.

"A defendant entering the courtroom should be like a student entering an exam hall," Chief Justice Al Hammadi said.

"A defendant should have slept comfortably, had their breakfast, taken a shower and come here ready to defend themselves the best they can. Nothing should affect even their short-term memory."