Dubai: Filipinos in Dubai were on Saturday urged by Dubai Police to report crimes even if they fear they could be charged because of surrounding circumstances.
The advice came during a community forum organised by the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai and Dubai Police, held at Dubai Police Officers Club in Al Jaddaf. Similar forums have been held for other expat groups and are part of Dubai Police’s ongoing community outreach programme.
Filipinos are among the UAE’s bigger communities, numbering close to of 600,000 in Dubai and the northern emirates.
600,000number of Filipinos in Dubai and the northern emirates
On Saturday, officials from Dubai Police and the Philippines consulate at the forum said Filipinos ranked among the most law-abiding residents of the UAE.
Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes said “awareness about local laws needs to be constantly updated so that newcomers to this society will also understand what it takes to be an ambassador of the Philippines, as far as our migration is concerned”.
He added: “It is incumbent upon us to know exactly what the laws are so that when we fall into certain traps, we know which road to go, and so that we can also tell our fellow Filipinos what must be done when we reach certain points.”
Police officials said many victims of crime remain silent or “hide one crime by another crime” fearing they could be jailed. However, no matter what the situation, a solution can be found though legal means, the officials added.
For example, some women resort to delivering a baby conceived out of wedlock — a crime in the UAE — outside of hospital and abandon the baby, which is another crime.
However, such a situation can be legally resolved if the woman marries the baby’s father or returns to her home country to deliver the baby, said Lieutenant Khalid Mohammad Banasser, who led the overview of the community’s common problems during the forum.
“A marriage contract ends the case. Having a baby out of hospital can end up killing the child, which is also a criminal offence. Don’t hide one crime by another crime,” Lt Banasser added.
Another example is taking care of someone else’s child whose parents have fled the UAE.
The “foster” parent fails to report the case to police fearing he or she could be prosecuted for not reporting the absconding parents or raising the child themselves without papers.
Lt Banasser said no matter how much time has passed, the “foster parent” will not be charged.
“We will do a DNA test to confirm it is not your child and investigate the details. After that, you are free to work with your consulate and other officials to legally adopt the child, give him or her a name and passport.”
Giving other examples, he said although using a mobile phone while driving is normally illegal, a motorist who in a safe way records another road user’s reckless driving will not be charged for reporting the violation to police in the interest of public safety.
Forum attendees were also advised against taking pictures of people in public and posting them on social media — which may not be a crime in their home country.
Lieutenant Abdul Razaq, addressing the forum on cybercrimes, said taking pictures of people, especially women, without their consent is not allowed in the UAE.
“The best thing to do is to ask. If you have a doubt, ask. So many people are involved in cases in which they didn’t know that what they were doing was a crime. Taking pictures of people and putting them online is a privacy issue. You have to protect a person’s privacy,” Lt Abdul Razaq said.
Saturday’s gathering also heard about the risk of bringing in medicine without an attested prescription.
Speaking about drug awareness, Sergeant Musa Guleed said medicines containing codeine are banned in the UAE, while medicine such as Lyrica (for controlling epilepsy) must carry a doctor’s prescription attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Embassy in the country from where the medicine was bought.
Sgt Guleed also pointed out that carrying such medicines in large quantities beyond the ordinary need of a patient would be met with suspicion by officials.
“If you come on a holiday here for 15 days, but bring in 150 pills, it doesn’t make sense,” he said, advising attendees to also check with Dubai Customs what is prohibited to bring into the UAE.
‘Day without Accidents’
Meanwhile, Corporal Omar Muslim Usman Aflatoon raised awareness on traffic and road rules, urging motorists and pedestrians to always stay alert and obey the rules. He also drew attention to the new Dubai Police safety campaign ‘Day without Accidents’ that runs from August 1 to September 2.
Awareness about local laws needs to be constantly updated as many people are newcomers and rules sometimes change
- If a woman carrying a child conceived out of wedlock marries the father and presents the valid marriage certificate, there is no case against them.
- A person taking care of a child abandoned by his or her parents who fled the UAE, will not be charged. He or she must, however, report the situation to police, undergo a DNA test and apply for relevant paperwork for the child.
- Taking pictures of people, especially women, without their consent and sharing them on social media is a crime.
- You can get arrested at the airport if you bring in certain medicines without a prescription that needs to be attested by the UAE Embassy and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country where it was bought.