Dubai Court’s landmark Facebook ruling –

The Dubai Court of Cassation set aside a judgment by the Appeals Court acquitting a man of abusing a woman on Facebook. The court directed the case to be heard by another jury.

The Dubai Prosecution appealed the verdict of the court before the Cassation Court. The Appeals court acquitted the man, arguing in its ruling that the man did not abuse the woman in public. The ruling mentions that a Facebook page includes a small group of people and that no one else other than the group can get onto that page, so the publicity aspect was not fulfilled.

The prosecution claimed the ruling violated the law. Prosecution said that Article No. 20 of federal decree No. 5 of 2012 stressed on criminalising crimes of abuse and defamation that are committed via the internet and information technology. The UAE legislator did not restrict abuse crime to any condition or circumstances, as was the case in the Federal Penal Code. The legislator assured that abuse is committed once it is posted on the internet even if it was not published or announced to the public.

 Article No. 20 states: “Without prejudice to the provisions of the crime of libel prescribed in Islamic law, anyone by the use of the internet or information technology… etc., and abuses or accuses a person and made him subject to others’ contempt, shall be jailed and fined not less than Dh250,000 and not more than Dh500,000, or any of the two punishments.”

 It is fulfilled once a general criminal intention was there through posting abusive language that makes the person subject to other’s contempt or punishment. Therefore, the Cassation Court turned down the verdict stating that the crime is fulfilled once abusive words were posted on internet, including Facebook, although it was not announced to the public.