Dubai: The UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday issued a federal decree holding ministers and senior officials accountable for wrongdoing in order to enhance transparency.
According to the law, the Public Prosecutor can ban any senior official from travel, freeze funds if needed, and senior officials can be dismissed for administrative and financial violations. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, made the announcement on his Twitter page.
The new law aims to enhance the accountability and transparency across the UAE Federal Government.
“My brother President Sheikh Khalifa today approved a decree law on questioning ministers and senior officials of the UAE. The Public Prosecution will receive complaints against any senior official. They will be referred to investigation in coordination with the Cabinet,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“We are a law-abiding country, the integrity and transparency of our federal government is a top priority,” the Vice President added.
All senior officials in the federal government will be subject to the provisions of the newly issued law and whoever commits a violation while carrying out official tasks will be held accountable. However, a case cannot be filed with the Public Prosecution against any official without obtaining a permission from the Supreme Council.
The Supreme Council may also authorise the President to issue the permission in this respect and in this case, the President shall have the same powers determined for the Supreme Council stipulated in this Decree-Law.
Article 3 of the decree law states that the Public Prosecution shall receive complaints against any senior official or minister. If the complaint was against a senior official, the public prosecutor should inform the Cabinet and the Minister of Presidential Affairs (hereinafter referred to as the competent minister) and the public prosecution shall accordingly initiate investigation.
However, if the complaint was against a minister, the public prosecutor should secretly inform the competent minister before initiating the investigation. If the latter deems the case serious and harbors ambiguity that necessitates questioning, or there were some tangible evidence against the accused minister, the competent minister will instruct the public prosecution to investigate the matter after taking the prime minister's approval.
The prime minister may as a result task a substitute minister to replace the accused and carry out his duties pending investigation.
According to Article 4, investigations with senior officials shall be conducted by a member of the Public Prosecution Office with the rank of at least a public defender.
If the investigation finds the minister or one of the accused officials guilty, the public prosecutor shall submit, to the competent minister, a report that includes the accusation and the evidence supporting it, in order for him to take approval from the Prime Minister to present the matter to the President, and authorise filing a case by the Supreme Council.
Closing the case
If the Public Prosecution decides to close investigations, the public prosecutor shall notify the competent minister of the decision and its reasons. The competent minister will therefore take up the matter with the prime minister to take what he deems appropriate in this regard if the matter was related to a minister. Yet, if the case is against a senior official, the public prosecutor shall inform the Council of Ministers and the competent minister of the decision and its reasons.
Travel ban, fund freeze
The Public Prosecutor may ban any senior official from travel, freeze his funds or that of his wife and sons if needed, and senior officials can be dismissed for administrative and financial violations.
Filing a grievance against the Public Prosecutor’s decision banning travel, freezing funds, or preventing their disposal shall be made by submitting a report to the court to decide on the grievance within two weeks from the date of its submission.
If the court rejects the grievance, it is not permissible to appeal against its decision in any way, or to submit a new grievance before the lapse of three months from the date of the court’s rejection, unless something necessitates it.
Criminal or discplinary punishment
If the public prosecution’s investigations found that the accused minister or official deserves a criminal or disciplinary punishment, and the Supreme Council has already authorised filing a case for accountability, the Public Prosecution will bring the case before the court.
Except as provided in any other law, the court shall consider a case of accountability against the minister or official, and any other accomplices in the crimes stipulated in this Decree-Law, in accordance with the procedures in force. Verdicts issued by the court at this stage are considered final.
After hearing the public prosecution’s opinion, the court may order, upon the request of the minister, official or any of the concerned parties, to cancel or amend the decision to ban travel and freeze funds.
Under Article 8 of the law, if the official was convicted of committing any of the financial or administrative violations, the court shall impose any of the following penalties:
- Retirement on a pension
- Dismissal from their post
- Dismissal from the job plus deprivation of pension or bonus of no more than one-fourth
- The provisions of this article do not prejudice the authority of President to terminate the service of the official by a federal decree, and the decrees issued for the termination of service are not subject to appeal in any way.
Appeals against the verdicts issued by the court in accordance with the provisions of this Decree-Law shall be made by the public prosecution, the minister or official and the concerned parties.
The appeal shall be submitted to the case department at the court, along with supporting documents, within thirty days from the date of the verdict issuance or announcement.
The appeal file shall be presented to the president of the court to form a committee under his chairmanship, and the membership of six court judges who did not participate in issuing the contested judgment. The judgment issued by the court in this stage is considered final.
Death sentences issued in the presence of the convicted persons are considered to be contested before the appellate body, as soon as they are issued. The case department at the court must present the case file to the president of the court including the death sentence within fifteen days from the date of its issuance.
The Public Prosecution shall accordingly deposit a memorandum of its opinion on the judgment within fifteen days from the date of its issuance with the case management at the court, and shall assign a lawyer for the convicted person if he has not appointed a lawyer. The Public Prosecutor may appeal rulings issued by the court initially if it was in the interest of the law.
Without prejudice to the provisions of criminal and civil responsibilities, the disciplinary accountability of the official shall be in the cases in which he is accused of committing an administrative violation as a result of negligence, or breach of job duties.
The disciplinary case is filed by a referral order signed by the public prosecutor and submitted to the court, including the offences attributed to the official along with the supporting evidence, according to the investigation findings.
The court shall decide on the disciplinary case after hearing the public prosecution and the official’s defence. Judgments are issued in all cases based on the majority of opinions. The disciplinary case shall be dismissed five years after the date of its filing, if no judgment was made or if the official passed away.
Upon its own or at the request of the competent minister and after coordination with the Prime Minister, the Supreme Council has the power to amend or rescind any permission it has issued, in accordance with the provisions of this Decree-Law.
The competent minister shall notify the public prosecutor of any decisions or directives issued by the Supreme Council in accordance with the provisions of this Law to implement.
If the case is being considered before the court, and the Supreme Council rescinds the permission to file a case before the court decides on it, the court ordered the case to be dismissed.
The provisions of this decree shall not prejudice the power of the President to pardon, commute or suspend the sentence. Except as provided in the Federal Law No. (36) of 1992 Concerning Rehabilitation, the President, in the event of pardoning the convict, may order the rehabilitation of the offender.
Article 13 stipulates that the termination of the minister or official’s service or the acceptance of their resignation shall not preclude investigation and the initiation of a criminal case against them, in accordance with the provisions of this law.
In addition, the execution of freedom-restricting penalties imposed in accordance with the provisions of this Decree-Law shall be in places independent of the places designated for other convicts.
The Public Prosecutor may directly request the Central Bank or any other financial, commercial or economic institution, when necessary, to access and review the accounts, documents or data or obtain information about the minister, official or those who has something to do with the crimes being investigated, to reveal the truth.
The Public Prosecutor may, on his own or at the request of the concerned parties, amend the decision to freeze or prevent disposal or management of funds in accordance with the investigation proceedings. Decisions to freeze funds and prevent disposal, issued in accordance with the provisions of this Decree-Law, shall be implemented through the Central Bank.
Without prejudice to the rights of the defence, investigation procedures, gathering of information, inference, and sessions conducted in accordance with the provisions of this Decree-Law shall be considered confidential.
The court and public prosecutor may order prohibiting the publication of any information related to the case whenever needed.
Shall be considered null and void every provision that contradicts the provisions of this Decree-Law. As long as there is no special provision in this Decree-Law, the Criminal Procedural and Punitive Laws among other relevant laws shall apply to the extent that they do not conflict with this Decree-Law.
This Decree-Law shall be published in the Official Gazette, and will take effect on the day following its publication.