Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 25 May 2019

UAE anti-discrimination law does not limit freedom of expression: seminar

Law No 2 of 2015, announced in July, also protects religious beliefs, with anyone found to have offended a religion, disturbed a religious celebration, insulted a prophet or destroyed a religious monument in contravention of the law.

ABU DHABI // Be it discrimination against women or the sharing of video that is deemed offensive, the country’s anti-discrimination law covers any act that could incite hatred or unfair bias, judicial officials said at a seminar yesterday.

This does not mean there is a limit on freedom of expression, said the officials, a criminal judge and head prosecutor.

“I do not see freedom of expression being enjoyed in foreign countries more than us,” Judge Alyazia Al Hammadi said. “I see the contrary. Their freedom of expression is being abused.”

Law No 2 of 2015, announced in July, also protects religious beliefs, with anyone found to have offended a religion, disturbed a religious celebration, insulted a prophet or destroyed a religious monument in contravention of the law.

While the law refers to Islam, Christianity and Judaism, other faiths practised by UAE residents are protected, Mrs Al Hammadi said.

Discrimnation against another is covered by the law, including “prioritising a man against a woman”, said Rashid Al Dhaheri, head of Al Ain Prosecution, but there are exceptions, notably regarding the treatment of the disabled.

The officials reminded the public that sharing an insulting video or message could break the law.

“If you shared it then you are participating in the crime,” Mr Al Dhaheri said, and pointed out that responding to an insult with an insult could be illegal.

However, he said, “in general, public prosecution investigates whether the person had criminal intentions or not”.

The penalities range from six month jail sentences to more than 10 years, and fines from Dh50,000 to Dh2 million.

The same month the law was announced, Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan, deputy chief of Dubai Police and general security, accused writer Dr Mohammed Al Hadif of spreading hatred of the UAE on social media.

However, Mrs Al Hammadi said she was yet to see any judicial implementation of the law.

“It is still new and the cases will come soon,” she said.

hdajani@thenational.ae

Updated: October 7, 2015 04:00 AM

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