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  • Writer's pictureAkram Cheik - Lawyer

Police custody in Dubai

Custody is a procedure used in many legal systems to allow authorities to temporarily detain a person suspected of having committed a criminal offence. In the United Arab Emirates, the procedure of police custody is regulated by the Federal Law on Criminal Procedure. In particular, Articles 100 to 118 of Chapter 6 of Federal Law No. 35 of 1992 define the rules relating to police custody and the rights of detainees.


These provisions include the conditions under which a person may be held in police custody, the maximum duration of police custody, the rights of suspects while in police custody, as well as the rules applicable to questioning and criminal investigations. .


Police custody in the United Arab Emirates has undergone legislative changes over time. In 2017, a federal law was passed to amend Federal Law No. 35 of 1992 on Criminal Procedure. These amendments introduced several important changes in terms of police custody, in particular with regard to the rights of detainees.

For example, the maximum duration of police custody has been reduced from six days to 48 hours, with a possible extension of an additional 24 hours with the authorization of the Public Prosecutor. In addition, the law now provides additional guarantees for the rights of detainees, including the right to legal assistance from the start of police custody and the right to contact their family or relatives.


With this in mind, it is important for people facing criminal charges in Dubai to understand their rights and obligations regarding police custody, including how it works in the United Arab Emirates (I) and the major custody actors (II)


I – The functioning of police custody in Dubai



A – The purpose and duration of police custody in Dubai



Police custody in Dubai can be ordered by a judge or by law enforcement if a person is suspected of having committed a criminal offence.


According to the laws of the United Arab Emirates, the maximum duration of police custody is 48 hours without charge. During this period, the suspect can be interrogated and evidence can be collected against him. If the authorities believe that a longer detention is necessary, they must obtain an order from a judge.


Suspects also have rights while in police custody, such as the right to counsel and the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. Authorities must also ensure that the suspect is treated humanely and that their medical and other needs are met.


If the judge orders bail, the suspect can be released from custody in exchange for a sum of money deposited with the authorities. If bail is not paid, the suspect may be detained until he appears in court.


It is important to note that laws and legal procedures may vary depending on each individual case.

Notably, there are exceptions to the principle of 48-hour police custody in Dubai. According to the laws of the United Arab Emirates, authorities can request an extension of police custody if they believe it is necessary to complete the investigation and gather evidence.

The extension of police custody must be authorized by a judge and cannot exceed a total duration of 14 days. However, the extension of police custody can only be ordered in specific cases, such as cases of terrorism, drug trafficking, economic crimes or cybercrime.


Another exception concerns cases of offenses in organized gangs. In these situations, the authorities can request an extension of police custody for up to 21 days, with the authorization of a judge. This extension of police custody can be applied in organized crime or terrorism cases, when it is deemed necessary to prolong police custody to carry out a thorough investigation and collect evidence.


B – Means of nullity of police custody in Dubai


Means of nullity are legal arguments that can be used to challenge the legality of police custody and, therefore, to request its nullity.


Article 111 of Federal Law No. 35 of 1992 on criminal procedure lists the grounds for annulment of police custody, which include, in particular, violation of the rights and guarantees of detained persons, failure to comply with the formalities prescribed by law and evidence obtained by coercion or torture.


In particular, to arrest police custody, the following can be cited:

The absence of reasonable grounds to suspect the commission of an offense by the detained person.


Non-compliance with the rules of procedure for the conduct of police custody.

The violation of the fundamental rights of the detained person, such as the right to a lawyer, the right to remain silent, the right to humane detention conditions, etc.

Article 112 of the same law specifies that grounds for nullity may be raised at any time during the procedure, including during police custody.

Finally, article 113 of the law provides that the judge may declare the nullity of police custody and of all the measures resulting therefrom if the means of nullity are established.

II – The roles of the lawyer and the Public Prosecutor in police custody in Dubai.



A – The role of the lawyer in police custody in Dubai



He is one of the centerpieces of police custody. Indeed, lawyers have the right to assist their clients from the start of police custody. However, it is important to note that local authorities have the discretion to deny access to a lawyer if they believe this could hinder the ongoing investigation.


In practice, it is recommended to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested, preferably before the interrogation. If access to a lawyer is denied, it is advisable to request access to a lawyer again while in police custody.


How long a lawyer can be present during police custody in Dubai depends on local laws and regulations, as well as police practices. In general, a lawyer can be present throughout the duration of police custody, including during interrogations. However, it is important to note that local authorities may limit access to a lawyer in certain situations, for example, if deemed necessary to protect public safety or to preserve the ongoing investigation.



His role is all the more important since he has the possibility of raising one of the means of nullity listed above in order to have the police custody canceled. In particular, During the questioning: if the lawyer is present during the questioning, he can raise the means of nullity during this exchange. He can challenge the legality of custody, the absence of notification of rights or the violation of legal procedures. He may also request that evidence obtained illegally be excluded from the file.


By means of a written request: the lawyer can raise the means of nullity in writing by presenting a formal request to the public prosecutor or to the competent judge. This request should be detailed and supported by legal arguments and evidence if possible.

During the hearing: if custody is contested before the court, the lawyer can raise the means of nullity during the hearing. He can then make oral arguments and submit evidence to support his claim.

B – The role of the Public Prosecutor in Dubai



In the United Arab Emirates, including Dubai, the Public Prosecutor has the power to decide on the continuation of police custody. The Public Prosecutor is responsible for supervising the criminal investigation and may authorize the detention of a person for the purposes of the investigation.

He must verify that investigations are carried out in a legal manner and respect the rights of suspects, in particular with regard to the rules of police custody and interrogation procedures. In the event of a violation of the legal rules, the Public Prosecutor can order the cessation of the investigation and institute proceedings against those responsible.


In terms of police custody, the Public Prosecutor also has the power to extend the duration of police custody until the investigations are completed. If the Public Prosecutor is satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the detained person, he may lay charges and institute criminal proceedings.


During an arrest, a delay in informing the Public Prosecutor of an arrested suspect does not automatically lead to the nullity of the procedure. However, any undue delay may be considered a violation of the rights of the suspect and may affect the validity of evidence collected while in custody.


It is important to note that the length of police custody in Dubai is regulated by law and the rights of suspects must be respected while in police custody, such as the right to a lawyer and the right to conditions of detention. human.


Akram Cheik, Lawyer



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