Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi resident, Australian Jodi Magi, has been arrested and referred to court for violating the UAE’s cyber laws, officials have confirmed on Tuesday.
Magi, who moved to Abu Dhabi in 2012, had reportedly taken a picture of a vehicle parked across two parking spots reserved for the disabled, before posting the image on her personal Facebook page and adding “bad words about a person”, according to several Australian news sources.
The 39-year-old teaches graphic design to Emirati women and ran an art website, a blog and multiple social media accounts.
Abu Dhabi Police have confirmed that Magi’s case is being handled at the lower instance courts in the capital.
A statement by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) said: “Since 25 May, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been providing consular assistance to an Australian woman, Ms Jodi Magi, in the United Arab Emirates after she was sentenced for a cyber crimes offence. Consular officials have provided all appropriate consular assistance to Ms Magi, in line with the Consular Services Charter, and have kept in close touch with Ms Magi, her husband and her lawyer. On 12 July, Ms Magi presented herself to a court in Abu Dhabi to pay a court-ordered fine and was taken into custody pending deportation to Australia. This is normal practice in Abu Dhabi.”
The DFAT also added that consular officials are pushing for Magi’s deportation. “The Australian Government’s travel advice for the UAE warns that local laws that appear harsh by Australian standards nevertheless apply to Australian travellers or residents,” the statement added.
According to Al Tamimi and Co law firm, the Morality and Proper Conduct section of the UAE’s Federal Law No 5 of 2012, also known as the Cyber Law, says that individuals can be prosecuted for making statements that are disrespectful towards Islam, morals and good conduct.
These include posting comments or images that ‘encourage sin’, slander another person or breach the privacy of individuals — including taking photographs or publishing information about another without their permission.
Legal experts have advised residents to contact authorities with any documented illegal activity they may spot, such as wrongful parking or child endangerment, and to refrain from posting the images or videos on social media.
In 2012, an American living in the UAE was sent to a maximum security facility for posting a satirical video about Dubai’s youth culture.