Former Chief Justice clarifies how the courts hear matters related to State security in the UAE.
The federal legislator did not provide a specific definition of the crime of state security, leaving it to jurisprudence to define. Notwithstanding, the Federal Constitution and the Federal Supreme Court Law implicitly define such crimes as "crimes that directly affect the interests of the Union."
Over time, various federal laws were promulgated defining certain acts as crimes that harm the interests of the Union; crimes such as forgery of official statements or seals of the federal authorities, crimes of counterfeiting currency, terrorist crimes, crimes of financing terrorism ... etc.
Until December 2016, the Federal Supreme Court was the only court in the UAE to have jurisdiction over crimes against state security and to prosecute them before a specialized circuit; the State Security Circuit.
This Circuit is constituted by a decision of the General Assembly of the Court at the beginning of each judicial year. The Circuit is presided over by the Chief Justice or by one of its original judges and two original or alternate judges of the Court.
The Circuit’s decisions were treated as res judicata. Its provisions are final and can only be appealed against when the ruling is in absentia, or by means of a petition for review as provided for in the Penal Code.
On state security matters, Public Prosecutor's Office is represented by the State Security Prosecution, which acts on behalf of the community and reports to the Federal Attorney General.
Post December 2016, the federal legislator introduced amendments to the Federal Judicial Authority Law and the Federal Supreme Court Law by virtue of which the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court was granted the exclusive jurisdiction to hear crimes that prejudice the interests of the Union (state security crimes).
Pursuantly, the State Security Circuit became made up of the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court and the Federal Supreme Court. Litigants may appeal a ruling by the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court before the Federal Supreme Court. Rulings by the Federal Supreme Court are treated and final binding.
A hearing by the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court in the State Security Circuit is treated as a hearing by a court of first instance, heard by a panel of three judges. I.e. matters referred to the courts by the State Security Prosecution are directly heard by the Abu Dhabi Federal Appeal Court within the State Security Circuit.
The State Security Department refers all their investigations and accounts of state security crimes to the State Security Prosecution, regardless of where they occur, and without complying with the rules of territorial jurisdiction provided for in the Penal Code.
Abdul Wahab Abdool, Senior Partner, Bin Nakhira & Partners
Mahmoud Abuwasel, Partner, Bin Nakhira & Partners
To learn more visit: www.binnakhira.com
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