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Judicial CP - April 2007

Corpun file 19126

Xpress, Dubai, 25 April 2007

Legal Issue

Out With The Lash

By Awad Mustafa
Staff Reporter

Non-Muslims in the UAE who previously were liable to be lashed under the federal law are now immune to this penalty all over the country.

This follows a little-noticed amendment passed in late December revoking lashing as a punishment under UAE's federal laws in non-Sharia cases.

Picture of whip

According to Mohammad Al Marzouqi, Advocate for Al Tamimi and Co Legal Consultants, the amendment revokes lashing as part of punishment in most crimes, except those relating to Islamic doctrinal punishments.

"Some federal courts that prescribe reprehensive [sic] lashing as part of or an alternative to a sentence in non-Sharia cases are now asked to refrain from the practice under this amended law," said Al Marzouqi.

Saif Al Mutawa, a lawyer for Middle East Legal Consultants, explained that lashing was previously an option left to the discretion of the court during sentencing of non-Muslims.

As such, someone involved in a drunk driving case, for example, could get whipped instead of a jail term.

Lashing has been used as a punishment in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, which fall under the federal courts' jurisdiction.

On the other hand, Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah are not under the UAE federal courts system, and do not use lashing as a penalty.

The two emirates clearly stipulate the punishments for offences which lead to lashes in the federal legal system.

In cases such as drinking alcohol without a licence, Dubai enforces its Liquor Control Act of 1972 which states that the penalty involved is a fine of not less than Dh1,000 and a minimum of one month imprisonment for both Muslims and non-Muslims.

This law amendment, however, does not exempt Muslims who commit crimes punishable by lashing under Sharia, explained Al Mutawa. The UAE's federal legal system is based on Sharia, with elements of Western laws, such as the British Civil Law.

Corporal Punishment

Lashing, according to Sharia, falls under a certain set of guidelines.

  • The lasher's arm should not be raised; a copy of the Quran is held under his arm and should not be dropped while lashing is being executed.
  • The lasher, according to Sharia, should be the judge or ruler, but UAE courts have specialised personnel.
  • The lasher should perform ablution, say dua'a (prayer) and perform takbeer (saying Allahu Akbar, God is Great) before lashing.
  • Lashing is with a leather whip, any other tool is inappropriate.
  • The whip has to be free of any metal or splinters.
  • Lashing should not cause excessive pain, but the person lashed is not permitted to wear protective clothing.
  • Lashing has to be done on different parts of the body, so as not to damage the body and avoid leaving whip marks.
  • Women are to be lashed seated and fully dressed.
  • Pregnant women are not to be lashed. Lashing is postponed until two months after the delivery of the child.
  • If the person who is to be lashed is ill, he or she is to be imprisoned until fully recovered for lashing.

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