x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Name mix-ups cause travel bans for Emiratis

Emiratis are being stopped at the airport and prevented from travelling because they have the same names as people with outstanding court cases.

ABU DHABIi // Emiratis are being stopped at the airport and prevented from travelling because they have the same name as people with outstanding court cases.

FNC members have asked that the Minister of Justice, Hadif Al Dhaheri, appear before them to explain why court warrants are not linked to passports or Emirates ID cards.

"Mohammed, Obaid, Rashid, these are all common names," said Musabah Al Kitbi (Sharjah). "One Emirati was arrested on a Thursday then released the following Sunday when his identity was cleared.

"The police just apologised and said it was due to the similarity of his name. I want to ask the minister: why isn't there another way to identify Emiratis?"

The law also requires compensation for victims of mistaken identity but that has not happened either, Mr Al Kitbi said.

"An Omani who was about to leave from Sharjah airport to go on Umrah with his family was stopped because he shared the same name as another who had a financial case against him."

The man was held for two days, and his demand for compensation for his missed flight and hotel was refused.

"This is just one example, there are many other cases," Mr Al Kitbi said.

He said authorities needed a better way of identifying people than just their first three names and family name. A 2007 law requires court cases to be linked to identity documents, but it has not been enacted.

The minister told FNC members in a written answer last week that a system had been put in place to prevent such mistakes by linking warrants to passports or ID cards, but Mr Al Kitbi said police and border officials were clearly not following it.

"If the ID of people was based on ID cards, and not their names, this would not happen," he said.

Unhappy with the minister's answer, Mr Al Kitbi insisted that Mr Al Dhaheri be brought before the council's next session.

"I will ask the council then to raise a recommendation to make identity cards compulsory for all ministries, particularly the Ministry of Justice," he said.

osalem@thenational.ae