Abu Dhabi: The UAE strictly prohibits begging and unauthorised fundraising in any form. These activities tend to proliferate during Ramadan, as offenders attempt to take advantage of residents’s generosity during the holy month.
To counter this, authorities have issued fresh warnings over the past month, with the UAE Public Prosecution shedding light on the various penalties.
According to the UAE Penal Code, penalties apply for individual begging, organised begging and even unauthorised fundraising.
“Begging is an uncivilised act. Let’s help each other to eliminate begging, and help [the deserving through authorised channels],” the Public Prosecution said.
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Residents are instead encourage to donate funds and in-kind items through authorised channels, which ensure donors’ safety and privacy while also ensuring that the donations reach the needy.
The least serious of offences involve individual begging activity. Yet, this too includes a jail sentence for offenders.
“Whoever commits the crime of begging by soliciting a material benefit in kind, of any form or by any means, shall be sentenced to a duration of not more than three months, and fined a monetary penalty of mnot less than Dh5,000,” the UAE Public Prosecution has said.
The punishment is more severe if any of the following aggravating circumstances are present:
- -if the individual is not physically disabled
- -if the individual has a source of income
- -if the individual feigns disability or injury
- -if the individual claims to be proving a false service using the solicited funds
- -if there is any form of deceit involved to elicit sympathy
The penalties are outlined in Article 475 of the Federal Decree Law No 31 of 2021 regarding Crimes and Penalties.
Harsher penalties apply for individuals involved in organised begging.
“Whoever manages the crime of organised begging that is committed by an organised group of two or more persons shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a duration of not less than six months, and fined a monetary penalty of not less than Dh100,000,” the Public Prosecution said on its social media platforms.
“The same penalty shall apply against whoever outsources persons to the UAE for using them in the crime of organised begging,” it added.
The penalties are outlined in UAE Penal Code’s Article 476 of the same law. The law also imposes the Dh5,000 fine, and a possible jail sentence, for individuals participating in organised begging.
The exploitation of children in begging operations is considered to be a serious offence.
According to Article 38 and Article 68 of the Federal Law No 3 of 2016 on Child Rights, the following offences are prohibited:
- -to exploit a child in begging
- -to recruit a child in circumstances that are in violation of the law
- -to assign a child to perform a work that hinders education, or that causes harm to physical, emotional, moral, or mental health or safety
“Whoever violates this shall be sentenced to imprisonment, and/or fined a monetary penalty of not less than Dh20,000. If the work constitute a danger to the life of a child who is younger than 15 years old, or his or her physical, mental or moral safety, this shall [be considered an aggravating circumstance] calling for a more stringent punishment,” the Public Prosecution said.
Fundraising without the correct licenses is also considered a crime. Offenders are jailed, or fined up to Dh500,000.
Whoever create, manages or supervises a website, or publishes information on an information network, or any information technology means to advocate or promote fundraising without authorisation or a licence by a competent authority, or in violation of the terms of a licence, shall be sentenced to detention, and a fine of no less than Dh200,000 and not more than Dh500,000, or either of these two penalties
These penalties are detailed in Article 46 of Federal Law No 34 of 2021 on Combatting Rumours and Cybercrimes.
Last year, the Abu Dhabi Police said this kind of online fundraising usually proves to be more lucrative for offenders, and warned residents not to fall prey to them.