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The crime of libel

The constitution of the United Arab Emirates establishes social and cultural norms for the development of the state. According to Article 25 of the Constitution, everyone is equal before the law and is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. It also expressly forbids discrimination and defamation or libel based on socioeconomic rank and religion.

Article 44 of the Constitution contains express provision that it is duty incumbent upon all the people living in the United Arab Emirates to respect and comply with Constitution, laws, orders issued by public authorities and maintain public morality at all times.

Act of libel in the United Arab Emirates can be enforced in two ways through the criminal justice system or via the civil courts. In a criminal case, the police or a prosecutor brings the charges and the accused faces either a fine or prison sentence as punishment. In a civil case, the plaintiff files a lawsuit against the defendant who can be liable for damages.

Under Penal law- Federal Law No (3) of 1987, Libel constitutes a criminal act and is subject to penalties. Libel is constituted by any act of publication either in newspapers or other printed media, slander transmitted by telephone, or face to face.

It is Libel if one writes a negative comment about an individual or a company, even if it is done anonymously through blogs, Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter are covered. Even if somebody has been convicted of a crime, one can’t bad mouth him to others as that is an infringement on his honour and good name.

You can communicate with one of the attorney in Dubai who is affiliated with the law firm Khairallah for Legal Services, and he will help you to clarify all matters related to cases of libel and verbal abuse.


Punishment for Libel

In accordance with Article 373 of Penal law, accused shall be sentenced to detention for a term not exceeding one year or to a fine not in excess of Ten thousand Dirham (AED 10,000) for any statement that affects honor or dignity of other person without attributing to him a specific fact.

If the insult is addressed to a Public Servant or a person in charge of a public service, during or because of the discharge of his duties or performing the public services, or if it affects honor or reputation of the families, or if expected to fulfill an illicit purpose the penalty shall be detention for a term not exceeding two years and a fine not in excess of twenty thousand Dirhams (AED 20,000), in both instances, or one of those two penalties.

In case the insult is done by means of publication in one by means of newspapers or printed material, this shall be considered an aggravating circumstance.

FAQ about the crime of libel in the UAE

1-What is the punishment for defamation in UAE?

The offenders face a maximum two-year prison sentence or a fine of AED 20,000 if they are found guilty under the Penal Code. However, the severity of the sentence may be increased if the statement is made against a public official.

2-Is defamation a criminal case?

No criminal action for defamation that involves the imputing of a crime that cannot be punished de officio may be brought unless the offended person initiates it and formally files a complaint.

3-What are the 4 elements of libel?

Libel often consists of the following elements: (a) defamatory imputation; (b) malice; (c) publishing; and (d) the victim’s ability to be identified. The libel action should be dropped if one component is lacking. No false accusations.

If you would like to consult with a law firm regarding the libel issues in the law in the UAE, you may contact us. We, the Khairallah Advocates & Legal Consultants, one of the best law firms in the UAE, are always ready to assist you with all legal issues.

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