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The Dubai Courts and Public Prosecution building. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Dubai Public Prosecution’s Smart Bail initiative, under which, suspects are no longer needed to deposit their passports with prosecution, helped reduce the number of confiscated passports last year.

According to a latest report by Dubai Public Prosecution, number of confiscated passports last year was 5,508 — a 73 per cent decrease, compared to 2017.

The initiative, launched in 2018, allows suspects involved in minor cases, particularly misdemeanour, to obtain an electronic bail without having to keep their passports or those of their guarantors with Dubai Public Prosecution. However, under this new system, an electronic order is issued and circulated to all ports banning the suspects from leaving the country.

Essam Issa Al Humaidan, Dubai’s Attorney General, said that ‘Smart Bail’ had a positive impact on the penal order initiative as it allows suspects involved in cases of misdemeanours and minor offences to be dealt with through fines rather than making them go through the court system.

In 2019, the number of confiscated passports was 10,113. In 2020, the number had dropped to only 5,508.

“‘Smart Bail’ helped reduce the waiting time for customers in the bails section by 83 per cent last year to reach an average waiting time of 4.16 minutes, while it was 24.55 minutes in 2017,” said Al Humaidan.

According to official statistics released by Dubai Public Prosecution, the COVID-19 pandemic had a noticeable impact on the number of customers visiting the bails section. 17,037 customers visited the section last year, compared to 28,837 customers in 2019.

Misdemeanour cases

The ‘Smart Bail’ initiative applies on suspects involved in misdemeanour cases of crimes such as bounced cheques, cursing/insulting, breach of trust, drinking alcohol, assault and petty embezzlements, thefts and other minor offences, he elaborated.

According to Dubai Public Prosecution the suspect involved in such minor offences will no longer be asked to hand over his/her passport. However, he or she will not be allowed to leave the UAE until the case is resolved and will be required to attend the trial and other hearings related to the investigation.

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The travel ban will not be lifted until the case is settled by the court with a final verdict, which will then either be executed or dismissed by the public prosecution.