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Legal Provisions related to Murder as per UAE penal Code

In legal terms, murder is said to be the killing of a human being by another person who intends to carry out such an act without the permission of the law or authority. In the UAE, crimes such as murder and theft are covered under Federal Law No. 3 (1987). Federal Law No.3 introduced the UAE Penal Code, which lists down all the penalties that can be awarded to criminals for the crimes that endanger the life and safety of people within the UAE. Since the UAE is a federation of seven emirates, the Federal Law applies to all the emirates alike. The UAE federal constitution allows each emirate to have their own judiciary body; however, except Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, every emirate has come together to form the UAE Judicial Authority. Therefore, an emirate like Dubai decided to retain control of judicial authority but is still bound by the federal laws previously put in place. This article will focus on the crime of murder, the punishment for such an act, and how criminal proceedings and procedures occur in criminal cases.
The court system in UAE consists of three levels of courts, which are: the Court of First Instance, Court of Appeal and the Federal Supreme Court (for emirates like Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, and Fujairah) or the Court of Cassation (which is at a local level, for emirates like Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah). There is a civil division, criminal division, and a Shari’a division at each court level. For example, a criminal case such as murder will first go to the Court of First Instance, which can be appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Supreme Court/ Court of Cassation.
Under FederaL Law No. 3 of 1987, the UAE Penal Code separates crimes into three classifications, namely felonies, contraventions, and misdemeanours, as stated in Article 26. The crimes are categorised based on the punishment that comes with committing such a crime, as mentioned in the Penal Code. Murder in the UAE is categorised as a felony, and the punishment is life imprisonment. This punishment applies to any person that carries out a premeditated murder on another individual, as per Article 332 of the same code. The UAE Penal Code also investigates the moral element of the crime, such as the intent of the crime in a particular case, following Article 38. However, the punishment may be converted to a death sentence if the murder committed is: one, premeditated and two, is coupled with the commission of another crime. An example of this is the commission of murder and theft together.
Article 333 of the Code goes on to legally define what premeditated and intention of murder. Shari’a law also has a significant role to play in deciding the sentence of a criminal. Shari’a requires the deceased’s blood relatives to be consulted about the sentence that is to be awarded to the accused based on the Islamic religion and law. Under UAE law, a guilty/non-guilty verdict can only be declared once a sentence has been imposed, and the right to decide that sentence is given to the victim’s relatives. The relatives can exercise this right in three ways: 1) they can order a death sentence, 2) waive their right to a death sentence decision and request blood money to be paid, or 3) set the accused free with no sentence. If the criminal is found guilty, the punishments awarded are divided into two aspects: the Shari’a-decided punishment imposed as per the family’s request, and two, the criminal sentence was given by the judge in court. In other words, a killer sentenced to death by the family will also face jail time before satisfying the death sentence.
On the other hand, if the accused is entirely pardoned by the family, they would still have to face a criminal sentence, usually jail time for a certain number of years. However, if the family decides to accept blood money instead, then the court judge may look to award a more relaxed jail term.
Additionally, Article 336 provides for the killer to be sentenced to imprisonment of life for at least ten years (which depends on the extreme circumstances) if they assault another individual without the intent of murdering them, but the assault ends up leading to murder, committed along with other crimes. Similarly, Article 34 and 35 of the Penal Code defines an Attempt of crimes like murder as beginning to carry out a crime with the true intention of doing so but fails to complete it due to extenuating circumstances outside the control of the accused. Article 35 lays out the punishments for such attempted crimes. Therefore, the punishment for attempted murder is life imprisonment because the punishment of the completed crime is a death sentence.
These are the legal framework set by the UAE Penal Code and the Shari’a law for murder.

Written by Snehin John

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