A witness is someone who has some useful information about a related crime and is called on to testify at the court. A witness has certain rights as well as responsibilities for they have an important role in the proceeding of Criminal cases. The information provided by witnesses becomes part of the evidence which the judge can accept or deny accordingly. UAE law has laid down certain conditions in which a testimony can be denied; for instance, in case of interests and hostility, it is the court’s responsibility to consider such a matter.
This article mainly focus on the rights and responsibilities of a witness in UAE.
Rights of a witness in UAE Courts
1 The witness is an individual who assists the judiciary in proving facts that help in settling cases and achieving justice. Hence it is only logical to treat such an individual in a manner that suits their status.
2 The witness should not be harmed because of their testimony.
3 Provide appropriate seating for the witness.
4 Provide protection for the witness upon arrival as well as during their testimony.
5 If the witness has a valid reason for not testifying at the courts, the court can deputize one of the judges to hear the testimony at Witness’ residence after fixing the time and place. The litigants must be informed about details of such arrangements.
6 If the witness resides in an area outside the spatial jurisdiction of the court and is hard to reach, the court can deputize a court with jurisdiction, upon the request of the court or the litigants, to hear the testimony and authenticating it according to legal procedures.
7 The testimony is read to the witness or he/she is allowed to read it and make the necessary changes before signing it. If the witness refuses to sign the testimony, it must be mentioned on the session record along with the reason for not doing so.
Duties of a witness in UAE Courts
1 Giving a testimony is dependent on honesty and conscientiousness; therefore the witness must perform this task truthfully and state all facts known and bears all consequences of their testimony. For anyone who knowingly gives a false testimony for any judicial procedure that may affect such procedures fundamentally, they are said to have committed perjury, which is punishable by law.
2 The witness is questioned by the court. The witness first answers the questions of the opponent who asked for their testimony and then the questions of the party in whose favor they are testifying. Once the opponent has finished questioning the witness, they may not be cross examined again unless the court allows so.
3 If the opponent’s witness is not present or was not asked to be present at the hearings, the court can compel the witness to be present for the coming hearings. If they fail to comply, their right to testify becomes void and is punishable by law.
4 If a witness refrains from appearing before the court, the circumstances are considered and the witness is mandated to testify 24 hours prior to the set hearing date with exceptions. In summary cases, upon a court order, the court can mandate an electronic testimony through the concerned section.
5 If the witness was rightly mandated to appear before court but failed to do so, the court will impose a legal fine. The fine would be mentioned in the hearing record and shall not be contested. In case of extreme emergencies, the court may subpoena the witness; otherwise the witness is re-commissioned to attend the hearing and bears the expenses for the said re-commissioning. Once a fine is imposed on the witness, it may not be contested and the court can subpoena the witness. If the witness appears before the court and explains the reason for not appearing, the court may dismiss the witness.
6 The witness must answer all questions deemed appropriate by the court to prove the truth.
7 The testimony is given orally and no written notes may be used without the permission of the specialized court.