Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Thursday, November 20th 2014 [ME NewsWire]
The Mot’ared Al Afari Council (Majlis) in Al Ain city, organized by the Ministry of Interior, represented by the Law Respect Culture Bureau, tackled the crime reporting culture and its role in minimizing the negative impact on the community.
Such outreach councils are a response to the higher leadership’s directives, which call for involving both citizens and residents of the UAE in establishing security and stability.
The Majlis was moderated by media figure Ali Al Shamesi, who welcomed the attendees and extended his thanks to Mot’ared Al Afari for hosting the council. He also praised the Ministry of Interior’s unwavering commitment to spread legal awareness among community members.
Al Shamesi emphasized the valuable role of the public in crime reporting. “There is a widespread belief among individuals that combating crime is the sole responsibility of law enforcement agencies and the police. They are convinced that there are thousands of individuals recruited for this task; hence, there is no need to interfere with police powers, which involve tracking down criminals, uncovering potential crimes and arresting perpetrators. People should understand the significant difference between reporting crime as a tool to allow the competent authorities to take the necessary legal measures, and between taking direct action to prevent a crime, punish and prosecute the culprits.
Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Salah Obeid Al Ghoul, Director of Law Respect Culture Bureau, the General Secretariat of the Office of H.H Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, expressed his heartfelt thanks to the audience. He noted that the main objective of such awareness-oriented councils is to promote legal awareness among the various society segments.
Lieutenant Colonel Al Ghoul said, “Some crimes are unimaginable and horrific and tend to shock the conscience of individuals, prompting them to report crimes such as murder, rape, child abuse or grand theft. Other crimes, such as violation of residence law; traffic offenses; misdemeanors such as begging; petty theft or cyber crimes are disregarded in many cases.”
Adding further, Lieutenant Colonel Al Ghoul stressed the need for comprehensive awareness among individuals regarding crime and crime reporting. “People should expand their perception of crime; therefore, they should feel bound by a responsibility to report a crime, even if it does not involve them or their next-of-kin directly. This issue is closely related to other significant issues, such as affiliation, patriotism, social responsibility, security and public order in the country.
Colonel Abdulla Al Hosani, from the Naturalization and Residency Department at Abu Dhabi Police, shed the light on expats absconding or entering the country illegally, as crimes of a troubling nature. He noted that even though such crimes are punishable by the law, some sponsors disregard them and fail to report their absconded workers to the competent authorities; either to illegally benefit from the fugitive worker or to avoid legal accountability.
Colonel Al Hosani called upon the concerned authorities to hold sponsors who fail to report their absconded workers accountable; stressing the Ministry of Interior’s commitment to track the whereabouts of absconding workers and to establish the proper mechanisms to curtail this phenomenon.
Elaborating on the reasons why some people fail to report absconding workers, Ali Al Shamesi, the session moderator, indicated that some people tend to minimize the seriousness of some offenses out of sympathy for the offender. He said, “Many individuals tend to deal emotionally with the issue, disregarding the dangerous security implications of such individual actions. For example, begging which is regarded by many as involving ‘needy people who are soliciting charitable donations’; has been made a criminal offense, and tarnishes the civilized and bright image of the country. Some beggars resort to begging as an easy and fraudulent way to make money without effort, and consider begging the most lucrative of professions.”
For his part, Major Ibrahim Al Mamari, Chief of the Violators and Foreigners Affairs Section in Al Ain, noted that the absconding worker is the sole beneficiary in this case and not the sponsor, who has already paid hefty sums of money to recruit the worker, who escapes without notice or stating the reasons. He also stressed that the vast majority of community members suffer from this disturbing issue, which is still under investigation.
Lawyer Abdullah Nasser Al Kaabi, member of the Emirates bar Association, said that citizens and residents are collectively responsible for crime reporting; failure to do so is regarded as a deliberate concealment of crime. Furthermore, he pointed out that the Penal Code stipulates strict measures against crimes such as illegal residence or recruiting absconding workers; it also grants sponsors three months to report absconding workers so as to avoid legal accountability.
For his part, Mansour Al Marzouqi, Assistant School Director, stressed the need to acquaint students with the importance of crime reporting.
Media figure Ali Al Shamesi also tackled the actual causes of absconsion. Major Ali Sammahi from the Violators and Foreigners Affairs Department said that both parties bear part of the responsibility, when it comes to absconding cases. Maltreatment, work pressure and poor salary are some of these reasons.
The session moderator warned attendees against employing people absconding from sponsors. He noted that ‘employing runaway workers may be seen by many as a simple way to avoid complicated procedures with the Naturalization and Residency Department and the hassle of visas, fees and fines. However, if we examine the issue closely, we would find the following’:
Employing workers working for anyone other than their original sponsors is a criminal offence; not to mention the health implications of such an action. Absconding workers may have communicable or infectious diseases that can spread to others, because they cannot afford medical tests. Security wise, absconding workers may be fugitives or criminals, and you have no clear record of his legal status. Economy-wise, are people aware of the implications of employing absconding workers? Are they aware of the losses incurred by the sponsors who paid hefty sums of money and visa fees to recruitment agencies to recruit these workers; or the financial losses incurred by the State, as a result of having illegal individuals who are not paying the necessary fees to legalize their status in the country, in addition to the huge cost of recruiting investigation officers to track the whereabouts of those individuals? From a social perspective, absconding workers get the feeling of being free to move around and work wherever they want unsanctioned. This may prompt them to commit indecent acts, child or domestic workers’ molesting, and other objectionable behaviors, thinking they can avoid accountability.
The Stance of the Law
Commenting on the stance of the law regarding crime reporting, Al Shamsi questioned whether individuals are aware that failure to report a crime becomes itself a crime, and that the Penal Code criminalizes failure to report a crime. The fact that the individual or someone they know has not been charged with such an offense does not mean that it is not punishable by the law; hence, this individual may find himself at any time charged with such an offence and forced to abide by the designated sentence. He pointed that Article 274 of the Penal Code stipulates that, ‘Whoever becomes aware of a crime and abstains from informing the concerned authorities shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one thousand Dirhams.’.
Al Shamesi explained that most individuals refrain from reporting a crime in order to avoid being considered by the authorities as accessory to a crime. Reporting a crime involves a set of complicated legal procedures, starting from the police station, the Public Prosecution office for interrogation, then testimony at the court; whereas individuals would have to skip work without getting any facilities or encouragement for the service they are providing to society.
For his part, Saeed Muslim Al Afari stressed the importance of reporting this kind of crimes not only to avoid legal accountability but also as an act of patriotism. “Violators and illegal individuals are time bombs that may go off at any minute, they should not be harbored or protected from the law,” he said.
Elaborating on the importance of reporting a crime even if the person was not the victim, the session moderator pointed out that the modern security trends assert the importance of community members, as well as government and civil institutions in the efforts to curtail and prevent crime. He said, “Regardless of their human and financial resources, police services will not manage to protect society against crime and punish perpetrators without help. They will always need the support of community members and the various society institutions.”
He explained that it is not possible to allocate a police officer for each member of society. “Studies have shown that societies, which understand the need for concerted efforts against crime, have significantly lower crime rates. People should understand that any crime that befalls other community members, no matter how small or serious, is likely to happen to them as well. This would boost their belief in the need to combat crime as if it were directed at them personally. A criminal who steals from your neighbor may very well steal from you too; a person who drives recklessly can run you over or take the life of one of your children in a reckless moment,” he concluded.
The session was attended by Colonel Abdullah Ali Al Hosani from the Naturalization and Residency Department in Abu Dhabi; Lieutenant Colonel Dr. Salah Al Ghoul, Director of Law Respect Culture Bureau; Major Ibrahim Hassan Al Mamari, Chief of Violators and Foreigners Affairs Section in Al Ain; Major Ali Mohammed Al Sammahi, from the Violators and Foreigners Affairs Department; Dr. Hammoud Al Afari, Mota’ared Al Afari the owner of the council, and Mansour Al Marzouqi, Assistant School Director.
In conclusion, the session moderator thanked the attendees for their interaction with the topic. He explained that the ‘Sahim’ Service has allocated the toll free number 80080 to report absconding workers and their whereabouts.
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The Arabic-language text of this announcement is the official, authoritative version. Translations are provided as an accommodation only, and should be cross-referenced with the Arabic-language text, which is the only version of the text intended to have legal effect.
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