Emirates Detainees Advocacy Center

Legislative chaos and unprecedented legal violations

27 Dec 2021
متوفر باللغة

On the morning of Thursday, December 2, 1971 AD, the historic breakthrough of the United Arab Emirates was, when the rulers of the Emirates met at the Hospitality Palace in Dubai, and officially announced the establishment of the Emirates as a federal state with sovereignty, and the adoption of a temporary constitution that organizes the new state and defines its goals.

In the preamble to this Constitution, the rulers of the Emirates pledged to establish the rules of the federal government on sound bases and to establish a democratic rule, as the text of the preamble stated the following sentence: “The people of the Union are at the same time preparing for a free and dignified constitutional life, while moving them forward towards democratic, representative rule with integrated pillars.” In an Arab-Islamic society free of fear and anxiety.

The rulers of the Emirates concluded the preamble to the constitution with the following sentence: “For all this and until the permanent constitution of the union is prepared, we declare before the Almighty Creator, and before all people, our approval of this constitution appended to our signatures to be implemented during the transitional period referred to in it.”

But the constitution, which was supposed to be temporary and to be applied in the transitional phase towards democratic rule, has become, as of 1996, a permanent constitution, and the promises of a decent life and democratic rule are not fulfilled.

Fifty years after the announcement of the UAE Federation, it does not seem that only the dreams of democratic representative government have disappeared, but even the rights that existed before the establishment of the union have also disappeared, and just talking about political matters has become one of the dreams of the Emirati citizen, and the Emirati people are still living without a real political representation or legislative authority, and the legal system lacks the most basic elements of the rule of law, such as the existence of a separation of powers or an independent judiciary that guarantees people’s rights or even a constitutional court that monitors the process of issuing laws.

Instead of establishing a full-fledged democratic government as promised by the constitution, the authorities established a full-fledged authoritarian rule, in which they replaced the Parliament with the so-called Federal National Council, which is an advisory council represented by 40 members, and they are fully appointed by the authorities before 2006.

In 2006, the law was amended and allowed the people to elect 20 members of the council, while the authorities appoint 20 others, and although the council is nothing more than an advisory body without any mandatory capacity, the UAE authorities did not leave the freedom of choice to the voters, and invented an unprecedented electoral system whereby it sets tables called “electoral bodies” in order to choose the citizens who have the right to vote and run for elections.
Moreover, UAE law does not allow all citizens to run for office or be elected, as the Nationality Law stipulates in Article 13 that “Whoever acquires the state’s nationality by naturalization is not entitled to be nominated, elected, or appointed to any of the legislative, popular, or ministerial bodies. "

In the last elections in 2019, the voting process took place electronically without the presence of ballot boxes or electoral papers, which prompted the Arab media to describe it as the strangest election in the world.

According to the regulations issued by the UAE authorities, candidates are not allowed to talk about political or economic issues, and no candidate is allowed to criticize any declared government policy.

In the past elections, the government forced a number of candidates to withdraw, because they violated these regulations and talked about political and social issues, which prompted some human rights organizations to call on the National Elections Committee to investigate allegations that some candidates were pressured and forced to withdraw because of their electoral programs.

The International Federation for Rights and Development (IFRD) said: “The withdrawal of the candidates for their complaints about the pressure exerted on them by the authority increases the existing doubts about the transparency of the National Council elections in the UAE, and the level of candidacy and free elections in them.” The organization also confirmed in the statement that “the elections are taking place in undemocratic political environment, and there will be no free elections in light of government restrictions and continuous repression of activists.”

As is the case with political rights, the situation in other rights has not been much better. Despite after 50 years, the UAE is one of the few countries that still refuses to sign the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, an international agreement that provides for “guaranteeing the rights of Basic human rights”, and almost most countries of the world signed it. In fact, basic human rights such as education, work and treatment are now subject to obtaining a security approval from the State Security Apparatus (SSA), and this is a prerequisite for obtaining jobs, promotion, assignment, secondment, transfer and even a study leave.

Although the Federal Supreme Court issued a decision in mid-2019 confirming that the requirement of SSA’s approval is illegal and contrary to UAE law, the authorities still require it even in the simplest matters, to the extent that “volunteering to participate in the book fair” needs to obtain it.

Today, the UAE is entering the golden jubilee with a large package of repressive and unconstitutional laws, which made it bear the title of "the most police state in the Middle East", laws that reflect the deteriorating legal and human rights situation that the state has reached.

Beginning with the 2003 SSA Law, which granted the SSA the powers to interfere in almost everything, and provided it with a legal cover to arbitrarily arrest people, violate their basic rights, and spy on their private lives as it wanted.

Paradoxically, this law is still secret and cannot be viewed, and the authorities have not yet published it in the Official Gazette, despite more than 17 years since its issuance, which is a clear violation of the text of Article 111 of the UAE Constitution, which requires “publishing laws in the Official Gazette of the Union within two weeks at most from the date of its signature and issuance by the President of the Federation.”

In addition to the Penal Code, the fight against terrorism, cybercrime, and counselling (Al-Munasaha), which are laws that violate basic human rights, lack standards of legal certainty, and contain broad and vague texts that allow authorities to criminalize freedom of expression and even freedom of thought if they so desire.

The manipulation of the process of issuing laws, executive regulations and sovereign decisions has become the dominant feature of government actions during the past ten years, as the authorities issued during this period many federal and local laws, decrees and regulations in violation of the constitution.

Recently, the UAE authorities have often resorted to issuing decrees with laws, despite the failure to fulfil the urgency required by the constitution to issue such decrees, in a situation that reflects the control of one party over the decision of the external and internal union.

In order to clarify this point further, the federal legislation that carries the force of law is of two types, the first, is the federal laws, which are the original, which are laws that are approved by the President of the State and the Supreme Union Council, which includes the rulers of the Emirates.

The second type is decrees by laws, which are decrees that have the force of law issued by the President of the Federation in an urgent manner during the sessions of the Federal Council, in the event that there is an urgent order that pays him to do so. These decrees are temporary, and they must be submitted to the Federal Supreme Council when it convenes, where the Council can approve or reject them.

There are other types of legislation issued by the UAE authorities, such as ordinary decrees, cabinet decisions, and circulars, but they are not considered laws, but rather administrative decisions.

Despite this, the UAE authorities, with clear disregard for constitutional rules and legal principles, recently issued many decrees by law and unconstitutional decisions without any case of urgency or even logical justification, and did not submit them to the Federal Supreme Council even after its convening.

For example, the UAE authorities recently issued Federal Law No. 3 of 2020 amending some provisions of Federal Law No. 17 of 1972 related to nationality and passports, a decree that reflects a large number of constitutional violations.

First, because there is no urgent reason for the UAE authorities to issue a decree adding a third category of Emirati nationality, and they could have waited for the Federal Supreme Council to convene in order to add this law.

Second, such an amendment violates the principle of equality enshrined in the UAE Constitution in Article 25. The idea of ​​classifying citizens into categories is a clear violation of this principle.

Another example of the UAE authorities' indifference to respecting the principles of law, and in violation of the most basic principles that lie in the hierarchy of the legal rule, the UAE authorities repealed Federal Law No. 15 of 1972, regarding the boycott of Israel and the penalties resulting from it through an ordinary decree, which means that they abolished the law by an administrative decision, which is legally impossible. The law can only be repealed by law.

Perhaps 50 pages will not be enough to list the violations and problems of UAE laws, just as 50 years were not enough for the UAE to enter the world of legal and democratic countries.