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Cautions: Reporting Crime in Dubai can backfire

While it is very important that crime is reported, over the years we have received many complaints from foreign nationals who have been victims of crime, and so it is important that people are aware of the ramifications of reporting crime in the UAE so that they may make an informed decision.

We have assisted individuals who have made reports in respect of “road rage”. Once the complaint was lodged with the police, a retaliatory accusation was made. This served as a negotiating tactic whereby the original claimant was forced to withdraw his claim in return for the retaliatory claim being dropped. The police are certainly aware that counter claims for criminal behaviour are used as a bargaining chip but they have to take each claim seriously and are generally unable to overlook the false retaliatory claim.

In another similar road rage case, our client had informed the other driver that he would make a complaint about his aggressively dangerous driving and abusive language. When he arrived at the police station, he found that the other party had driven there faster and filed a complaint against him. The parties both agreed to withdraw their cases. Locals and savvy expats are aware that this tactic works while most foreign nationals would not consider this as a possibility.

In cases where taxi drivers have been involved, we have received numerous reports and worked on many cases where the taxi driver has deliberately overcharged them, robbed them, assaulted them or deserted them, particularly where the passenger has consumed alcohol. When the victim has indicated that he will make a report, the taxi driver has an instant defence that they were “drunk”, even when the passenger has consumed minimal alcohol. The fact that the passenger has alcohol in their system while in a taxi (and therefore in public), the crime victim will end up being the one charged with being drunk in public and the taxi driver will be immune. We always recommend against the consumption of alcohol in the UAE outside of licensed venues where the person needs to leave the premises in order to get home. We have been contacted many a time by foreign nationals who have been either victims of crime or have been delivered to the police by taxi drivers for being drunk in public. Always drink at home or in the hotel where you are staying.

In more extreme cases that have been well reported in the media, people who have reported a sexual assault have themselves been charged with sex outside of marriage. Some cases have been so extreme that prison sentences have been served to the rape victim.

While authorities understand that it is important to report crime and they encourage it, the practice of victims becoming defendants is counterproductive to the prevention of crime and is something authorities and government officials need to strategise a solution for. The system as it is, is wide open to abuse.

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