UAE to introduce new criminal code in January in major reform

UAE to introduce new criminal code in January in major reform

DUBAI, Nov 27, Reuters - The United Arab Emirates said on Saturday that a new criminal code would come into force in January as part of what it called the most sweeping legal reform in the Gulf state's history.

State news agency WAM reported that the government is changing 40 laws this year. It did not make clear which changes - relating to commercial companies, online security, trade, copyright, residency, narcotics and social issues - were new and had previously been reported.

A federal crime and punishment law, effective from Jan. 2, 2022, will be ratified, designed to better protect women, domestic staff and public safety.

The UAE wants to change its legal system to keep a competitive edge as Saudi Arabia opens itself up to foreign investment and talent.

There have been major changes in the past, including decriminalising premarital sexual relations and alcohol consumption, and cancelling provisions for leniency when dealing with so-called honour killings in November 2020.

Saturday's statement added clarity that had previously been lacking in the status of pre-marital sexual relations and children born from them - stating that parents need not be married.

Any couple conceiving a child out of wedlock will be required to marry or singly acknowledge the child and provide identification papers and travel documents in accordance with the laws of the country of which the child is a national, the statement said.

A criminal case with two years imprisonment would be brought up if parents did not acknowledge and care for the child.

The emirate of Abu Dhabi introduced its own reform - a novel secular family law aimed at making it more attractive to expatriates.