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Associated Press articles:
Dubai also has a history as a place where Uyghurs are interrogated and deported back to China. And activists say Dubai itself has been linked to secret interrogations involving other countries. Radha Stirling, a legal advocate who founded the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, said she has worked with about a dozen people who have reported being held in villas in the UAE, including citizens of Canada, India and Jordan but not China.
“There is no doubt that the UAE has detained people on behalf of foreign governments with whom they are allied,” Stirling said. “I don’t think they would at all shrug their shoulders to a request from such a powerful ally.”
However, Patrick Theros, a former U.S. ambassador to Qatar who is now strategic advisor to the Gulf International Forum, called the allegations “totally out of character” for the Emiratis.
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Nur Qistina Fitriah Ibrahim, a transgender woman who has not undergone a sex-change operation, and her friend, freelance fashion photographer Muhammad Fadli Bin Abdul Rahman, were arrested in Abu Dhabi on Aug. 9, friends say. Police stopped them at Yas Mall as they tried to eat at a food court, said Radha Stirling, CEO of the advocacy group Detained in Dubai.
But even trips to Dubai can pose risks to LGBT travelers and others as laws sometimes contradict social attitudes, Stirling said. A British man in the UAE faced charges of “cross dressing” last year, but Stirling said she helped him leave the country after paying a fine of 5,000 dirhams ($1,360).
“Alcohol, prostitutes, homosexuality, sex outside marriage and revealing clothing are all ever present, making these practices seem legal or at least, common and acceptable,” Stirling said. “In reality, they are serious offenses that can lead to lengthy imprisonment, fines and deportation.”
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Radha Stirling of Detained in Dubai said Jamie Harron’s passport was returned by police on Monday and that he was planning to leave the sheikhdom soon. The decision came only days after a Dubai court ordered 27-year-old Harron imprisoned over the incident.
Stirling said she believed a decree from Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, had resolved the case.
“It was just a public-relations nightmare for the country,” Stirling told the AP.
“It’s encouraging to see Dubai making steps toward positive change,” says Radha Stirling, founder of UAE legal watchdog Detained in Dubai. On the other hand, “In no way are they comprehensive protections for visitors and expats. The UAE has been scrutinized for serious human rights violations, wrongful arrests, arbitrary detentions, the outright theft of foreign investment, money laundering, and torture.”
Stirling adds, “Some of these changes were long overdue and we are keen to see them in operation, while others are the public relations endeavors of a country in serious economic hardship.”
UAE Reputation Comes Under Fire As Politicians And Academics Condemn Life Sentence For UK Researcher
Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, said she advises the academic community to suspend research trips to the UAE. Others have called for a wider boycott. Noted historian Sir Antony Beever has said he will no longer attend the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai in March and has urged other authors to do the same.
“The UAE maintains a deliberately misleading facade that alcohol consumption is perfectly legal for visitors,” said Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who helped represent Holman. “It is “wholly illegal for any tourist to have any level of alcohol in their blood, even if consumed in flight and provided by Dubai’s own airline. It is illegal to consume alcohol at a bar, a hotel and a restaurant, and if breathalyzed, that person will be jailed." Detained in Dubai assists “people who have become victims of injustice in the United Arab Emirates." The NGO works with international and local law firms with those charged with offenses such as alcohol and drugs, as well as sexual assault victims, alleged homosexuals and even imprisoned 'plane spotter' hobbyists.
“If consumption of alcohol is illegal in the UAE, airlines are complicit in serving alcohol to their passengers and need to be accountable and liable for their actions,” Radha Stirling of Detained In Dubai, told The Sun. “I expect that we will soon see airlines being sued for damages and losses incurred by their passengers when they are arrested.”
Fox News Articles:
"The UAE’s arbitrary enforcement of laws and lack of predictable legal outcomes means that Peter potentially faces years in prison for legally smoking marijuana. Even if found innocent, he can be dragged through a slow and costly legal process," said Clark’s attorney, Radha Stirling.
Radha Stirling, of the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, says Tuesday that Scott Richards is back in his Dubai home with his family.
Stirling says no trial date has been set in Richards' case, which involves his advocacy for a charity buying tarps for those living in Charahi Qambar, a community of mud homes near Kabul, Afghanistan.
Radha Stirling, a lawyer based in Britain whose advocacy group Detained in Dubai assisted in Scott Richards' defense, confirmed the news in a statement Thursday.
The group says many residents of the UAE were previously unaware that even hitting the "like" button on Facebook in promotion of charities that are not UAE registered could risk imprisonment.
CNN News Articles
However, Radha Stirling -- the CEO of UK-based advocacy group Detained in Dubai -- accused Robinson's account of being too similar to the emirate's official position.
She said Robinson, the former president of Ireland, "appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai's script."
Stirling questioned why Robinson made no reference to Sheikha Latifa's previous claim that she was tortured and detained for three years following a previous failed attempt to leave the UAE in 2002 as a teenager.
She also said Robinson failed to question the raid of Sheikha Latifa's boat in international waters amid her second escape attempt earlier this year.
"Sheikha Latifa phoned me on the night of her abduction, pleading for my help," Stirling said.
"Given what she has conveyed to me, this meeting in no way satisfies me that she is free from the abuse that she told me she had suffered for years."
(CNN) A British tourist has been arrested in Dubai on charges of extramarital sex after telling police a group of British nationals raped her in the United Arab Emirates, according to a UK-based legal advice group called Detained in Dubai.
"This is tremendously disturbing," Radha Stirling, the group's founder and director, said in a statement. "Police regularly fail to differentiate between consensual intercourse and violent rape.
"Victims go to them expecting justice, and end up being prosecuted. They not only invalidate their (victimization); they actually punish them for it."
According to Detained in Dubai, the woman was "gang-raped" by the British nationals.
Stirling said the woman had been released on bail but had had her passport confiscated.
Washington Times Articles:
The U.K.-based group Detained in Dubai told British newspapers this week that a woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was detained last month after telling police that two men raped her in a hotel. The victim is out on bail, but her passport was taken and she owes nearly $30,000 in legal fees.
“The horrible case at hand shows that it is still not safe for victims to report these crimes to the police without the risk of suffering a double punishment,” Radha Stirling, the founder and director of Detained in Dubai, told the newspaper.
Dubai has a history as a place where Uyghurs are interrogated and deported back to China, and activists say Dubai itself has been linked to secret interrogations. Radha Stirling, a legal advocate who founded the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, said she has worked with about a dozen people who have reported being held in villas in the UAE, including citizens of Canada, India and Jordan but not China.
“There is no doubt that the UAE has detained people on behalf of foreign governments with whom they are allied,” Stirling said. “I don’t think they would at all shrug their shoulders to a request from such a powerful ally.”
USA Today Articles
As the raid of Princess Latifa's yacht began, Radha Stirling, a human rights advocate, received a WhatsApp message from the princess.
"Please help. Please please there are men outside. I don’t know what is happening."
A short while later, Stirling was speaking to the princess on the phone when she heard gunshots.
Then the line went dead.
Three years later, Stirling said she isn't sure how to assess the recent photos of the princess, as well as her statement issued via her London law firm claiming she is free to travel and wants to be left alone to live her life in peace.
"It seems like she’s cooperating with her father. Is she doing this because she now wants a life in Dubai?" Stirling asked. "Or is she cooperating simply to have increased freedoms? Is she secretly thinking she might use these freedoms to escape again?"
New York Times Articles
Radha Stirling, a British lawyer, says she has represented hundreds of Westerners who have been jailed in Dubai for behavior that is usually permitted there.
“You go there and its facade is that all of this is legal, everyone is doing it, you think it’s O.K.,” said Ms. Stirling, who runs a British-based group, Detained in Dubai, that publicizes such cases. “But you offend someone and you’re the one who gets it.”
Two recent cases, both handled by Ms. Stirling, have aroused widespread ire in Britain, which has more nationals living in Dubai than any other Western country.
“The U.A.E. government is just a huge public relations entity,” Ms. Stirling said. “If they think a case is going to harm them, the government will speak to the police and get the charges dropped.”
Marie Claire Magazine
But Latifa hadn’t banked on the fact that her story sounded so far-fetched that nobody would believe it at first. She did not hear back from the media. She then contacted Radha Stirling, the founder of Detained in Dubai, a London-based advocacy group. “I had a number of WhatsApp voice messages and texts from Latifa from onboard the Nostromo,” says Stirling. “First, I had to verify they were real. Given the work we do defending clients against human-rights violations in Dubai, there was a chance the authorities were setting us up with a fake news story to discredit us.” Stirling did her due diligence, and, satisfied Latifa was genuine, she started to help. But time was passing fast. Jaubert began to notice Indian Coast Guard boats following them and planes overhead, indicating that their communications had, after all, been intercepted. Eight days into the journey and only about 30 miles off the Indian coast, Latifa and Jauhiainen were below deck at 10 p.m. when they heard loud bangs above them.
“Latifa called me from inside the bathroom, where she’d locked herself with Tiina, so I was on the phone to her when the armed men boarded,” says Stirling. “She was trying to let me know what was happening, but we lost communication. I knew they’d found her. It was devastating to hear that happening in real time and be unable to do anything.”
While little is known about Princess Latifa today, Stirling says intelligence sources close to Dubai’s royal court confirm she is alive. “The palace is pushing the narrative that both Latifa and Shamsa are suffering from mental-health problems and are receiving the care they need from qualified doctors.” In her video, Latifa predicted this exact disinformation would occur. “My sources say she is trying to get on with her life as best as she can,” Stirling adds. “She has no access to Internet or phones and is watched every second.”
This case is one of many similar stories in Dubai, according to Radha Stirling, founder and director of Detained in Dubai.
Stirling told The Independent, "Police regularly fail to differentiate between consensual intercourse and violent rape. Victims go to them expecting justice, and end up being prosecuted. They not only invalidate their victimisation, they actually punish them for it."
Under the UAE's sharia law, it is extremely difficult to convict someone of rape, as a confession from the rapist or witness statements from four adult men are required. This means that cases are often heavily skewed in the defendant's favour.
Stirling added that this made it unsafe for victims to report rape in the UAE, as they would suffer punishment themselves.
“The horrible case at hand shows that it is still not safe for victims to report these crimes to the police without the risk of suffering a double punishment.”
Town and Country Magazine
After Shamsa’s capture, Latifa seems to have been further stigmatized, and she witnessed things that affected her profoundly. “Latifa told me that [Shamsa] spent years in prison on the grounds of Zabeel Palace after her recapture,” says Radha Stirling, of Detained in Dubai, “and that she was drugged to the point where she was walking around like a zombie.” (Originally, to help a friend, Stirling founded Detained in Dubai in January 2008 to lobby governments on behalf of expatriates who run afoul of Dubai’s draconian criminal laws.
Sheikh Mohammed’s wives and daughters were bound by the same restrictions, though they received extravagant material benefits—trips abroad, the means to participate in expensive sports like skydiving, endless shopping—in exchange for surrendering control over their lives. “They operate within the accepted framework: helicopters, private jets, luxurious surroundings. Most are keen riders and spend extensive time at stables and riding,” Stirling says.
According to Stirling, a big part of Haya and her legal team’s plan to bolster their case for custody of her children is to point out that Mohammed has resisted international inquiries about Latifa and therefore can’t be trusted with his children. As far as the princess’s “closeness” to her bodyguard, most insiders are skeptical. “It doesn’t make sense. She would never risk doing something like that,” Stirling says.
In case it didn’t, she was making the clip as P.R. insurance against the worst possible consequences. She sent the video to the Australian human rights advocate Radha Stirling, instructing her to release it if she disappeared.
Robinson confirmed to the BBC she had seen the princess, describing her as “troubled” and “in the loving care of her family” and adding that the family “did not want her to endure any more publicity.”
Those comments were met with widespread scorn – Radha Stirling declaring herself “astonished at the extent to which Ms. Robinson appeared to be reciting almost verbatim from Dubai’s script.”
However, when human rights advocate Stirling released the video, the story blew up. Jaubert and Jauhiainen were sent home to their respective countries, where they began telling Latifa’s story.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, explained why this worrying situation has occurred: "In Dubai, if two parties are in dispute or arguing, the first person to speak to the police is usually the one who is believed. Often it is a race to get to the police first.
"By making this complaint, the man may have been safeguarding himself from being charged himself. Also, it is clear in this case that Asa was a bystander, not involved with the fight and is only being victimised because the alleged culprits have left the country."
Stirling added: "Visitors to the UAE need to be aware that justice does not operate the same way as it does in countries with mature legal systems."
With the support of British advocate Radha Stirling, who works for UAE civil and criminal justice specialists Detained in Dubai, 57-year-old McBurnie was able to persuade UAE prosecutors to drop the charge against her.
Stirling's organization said that McBurnie's 58-year-old Egyptian ex had waged a four-year digital campaign designed to cause his former lover pain and embarrassment.
“He had stolen photographs of her and circulated them privately and even to the US Embassy,” Radha Stirling explained.
“When she retaliated, she said, ‘I can’t believe you did that, you are a dirty animal.’ He then raised that with his lawyer and had her arrested.”
Under UAE cybercrime law it is strictly prohibited to insult anyone in any electronic format.
“They can look through your history,” said Stirling, “and even if you've posted something on Facebook or Twitter from three years ago, and even from outside of the country, that could be considered offensive in the UAE.”
Detained in Dubai used the media to raise awareness of McBurnie's case after learning that it wouldn't be heard until May and that the former PA could face two years behind bars. McBurnie has now left the UAE.
Business Matters Magazine
“The results of the survey are devastating, but not at all surprising,” Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, says, “Early on, we advised business owners in the UAE that the best action to take when forced closures became inevitable was to suspend their businesses and exit the country. It is a painful move to make, but it is the safest. Every economy in the world has been neutralised by shutdowns and a place like Dubai will be predictably harder hit than most. The tap of tourism has been closed, many people within the country are not working or earning salaries; supply chains have been frozen; even if lockdown measures are lifted today in Dubai, realistic recovery may take far longer than most companies can sustain.”
Stirling warns that the economic impact on the UAE of the global response to the Coronavirus pandemic is likely to be long lasting. Officials predict that the country of predominantly expats, could see a 10% reduction in total population, as many foreigners are opting to return to their home countries.
“Why did we advise business owners to leave? Because in the UAE, insolvency, default, bounced cheques, and any failure to fulfil financial deals or business contracts will land you in prison. So, when you are talking about 70% of companies closing within 6 months, that translates to a major surge in criminal cases against business owners who are likely to be accused of fraud, embezzlement, breach of trust, or any assortment of other wrongful allegations stemming from the damage done to their businesses due to the lockdowns. The malls will be empty, but the jails will be full.
While the UAE government has introduced stimulus packages to increase liquidity for the banks, Stirling cautions that this could become a lethal trap for business owners whose optimism or desperation cause them to take on excessive debts that the ravaged economy will never convert into profits. “It has always been tempting to take lines of credit in the UAE; they make it very easy. When your company is struggling, and you are hopeful for a return to normalcy, it is understandably even more tempting to take out further loans. But business owners have to be pragmatic; the market is not there, suppliers are not there, consumers are not there, tourists are not there; digging deeper into debt is a recipe for disaster in the UAE.
“History has shown us that UAE banks respond to economic crises quite ruthlessly; loans are recalled, credit closed, properties seized, late payments or bounced cheques are prosecuted vigorously, and even escalated to Interpol. If a business owner can realistically foresee that their company will not survive lockdown, or is unlikely to recover after lockdown, they should exit the UAE as soon as possible. Any outstanding issues can be better sorted out from abroad rather than from a prison cell.”
TRT World Magazine
The UAE is one of the biggest abusers of the interpol database, which is used to issue Red Warrants for arresting people in other countries.
“This is a mockery of Interpol if they appoint him as a director,” says Radha Stirling, founder of the consultancy Detained in Dubai, which helps people facing issues with the UAE law.
The UAE is one of the biggest abusers of the Interpol database and is behind regular issuance of the Red Notices, she tells TRT World.
Stirling, who has been helping people for 12 years in dealing with Red Notices made on the insistence of the UAE, says most of the cases involve credit card and mortgage defaults.
“The only reason I see why UAE is being considered is because it is a major financial contributor. So it’s like it has made a bid for the job.”
‘Sheikh Mohammed has been a prominent ambassador for modernity in the UAE. He has shown the country as a glitzy glamorous place to go. It’s modern, it’s Western and these three particular cases of Shamsa, Latifa and Haya have put a massive black cloud over the whole country,’ Radha Stirling, the CEO of Detained in Dubai, an advocacy group told TRT World, referring to three members of Sheikh Mohammed’s family who have either fled or have tried to escape the country.
She was unhappy with the treatment of Shamsa. She said she had been forcibly drugged and had basically become a zombie with no life. She wanted to take Shamsa with her when she escaped. But she said she was in no state physically or mentally to be able to make such an escape,’ said Stirling, who campaigns for Sheikha Latifa.
‘People assumed she was drugged, that she was under duress and they are pretending that she is OK when she is not. That was the first time Princess Haya had met her apparently and also the last time that Princess Haya saw her.’ Stirling told TRT World.
Stirling, who has intelligence sources close to the palace, said: "She is having to make up essentially for her mistakes for damaging the reputation of the country. She is likely in a villa but very restricted."
"If they could go to the police and they could get safety within their country, they probably wouldn’t flee. No one wants to abandon their entire county if they have protection within their country," Stirling said.
"If he wants a chance for the custody of his children, he has to cooperate with the UN investigation into Latifa's wellbeing as Haya’s lawyers will absolutely be arguing that her children are not safe with him when Latifa’s situation has been so public," says Stirling.
“Victims go to (the police) expecting justice, and end up being prosecuted. They not only invalidate their victimisation, they actually punish them for it,” said Radha Stirling, founder and director of Detained in Dubai in a statement.
The woman’s passport has been confiscated, Stirling said, and she may face trial where punishments can include imprisonment and flogging.
Stirling said the alleged attackers have since returned to the UK without any charges.
Detained in Dubai, an advocacy group, said on its official Facebook page that Harron would appeal the verdict but that he had lost his job because of the case and was struggling to afford his legal expenses.
“He is angry, disappointed, and dreads what may happen next. He feels betrayed and exploited by the system,” said the group’s head, Radha Stirling, who has been in contact with Harron’s family.
Radha Stirling, founder and director of Detained in Dubai, said in a statement that international attention the case received may have contributed to the decision.
She called for policy changes to avoid a repeat of similar situations.
“We hope that the UAE takes this as yet another example of why they need to implement a policy that protects victims of crime against retaliatory charges or counter criminal accusations,” said Stirling.
Stirling said the woman’s alleged attackers had returned to the United Kingdom without any charges.
Radha Stirling, head of Detained in Dubai, said she hoped cases like Harron’s would not happen again.
“Of course, a fully functional legal system would not require outside intervention, and a case like Jamie’s would never proceed in the first place. But we are enormously grateful to Sheikh Mohammed for stepping in.”
The Daily Beast Articles:
In a separate incident, a fake philanthropist reached out to Radha Stirling, an attorney who has represented both El Omari and Massaad in court cases involving Ras Al Khaimah. Unlike the fake reporters linked to Bluehawk CI, it’s unclear who was responsible for this attempt as there is insufficient evidence to attribute it to any specific actor. But the incident, which involved a crude attempt to hack the attorney’s phone, shows the lengths that some are apparently willing to go to seek information about lawsuits against Ras Al Khaimah.
Last year, “Justine Dutroux” showed up in Stirling’s inbox and introduced herself as an assistant to a wealthy philanthropist, hinting that she might be interested in funding Stirling’s work on cases involving Ras Al Khaimah (RAK).
Stirling, however, was suspicious from the start.
“They were very keen for me to give them information pertaining to which ‘players’ I was in contact with, within the various lawsuits involving RAK,” she told The Daily Beast. “They asked if I could establish contacts who are currently in RAK, close to the royal family, that I could introduce to them. In other words, they wanted me to oust those who may be traitors.”
“Justine” had other interests, too. Specifically, she was curious about Haya bint Hussein, the Jordanian princess who married the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in 2004 but left the UAE and her husband for the U.K. two years ago, eventually filing for divorce and causing a scandal in the royal court.
“They wanted to know whether I was in touch with Princess Haya and whether I could introduce them to Lady Shackleton, Haya’s lawyer,” Stirling said.
“Justine,” according to Stirling, “wanted to know in particular about Princess Haya’s personal assistant,” whether she still worked for the princess, and if Stirling could help make an introduction to the princess and her entourage.
Throughout the conversations, “Justine” used the lure of money as bait to gain Stirling’s confidence. She offered Stirling a private jet trip to Morocco to meet with her employer and asked her to send an invoice for payment.
And then the conversation took an altogether more sinister turn. Screenshots reviewed by The Daily Beast show that “Justine” sent Stirling two apps labeled “PaymentsApp” and “CapitalControl” through WhatsApp, explaining that the apps would allow her to monitor the billionaire’s payments to her firm and make future payments easier.
The programs would have done nothing of the sort. The Daily Beast shared the two applications with the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, a research organization focused on the intersection of human rights and cybersecurity, for analysis.
“This is remote access malware built on the publicly available Metasploit framework”—a cybersecurity site that produces a range of malicious software available to researchers—John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab, told The Daily Beast. He explained that the malware sent to Stirling is “not at all sophisticated, but if the social engineering works, then it would be a viable way to monitor somebody.”
In this case, it wasn’t. The hackers had mistakenly sent malware designed for an Android operating system to an iPhone, where it wouldn’t have worked.
But Stirling’s suspicions had still served her well. As “Justine” dangled money and malware, she quietly reached out to cybersecurity experts who helped her embed a script inside a document which, when opened, reached out to a server, giving her team the IP address of the computer which had opened the file.
The code, known as a “canary token,” showed that the file was opened at least three times—twice from computers connected to IP addresses in Australia and once on a computer connected to an Israeli IP address.
Stirling, a citizen of the U.S., U.K., and Australia, says she is determined to find out who was behind the attempt to hack her.
“We are ensuring that those responsible are held to full account,” she told The Daily Beast in a text exchange. “Hacking is a serious crime, and it’s important that the FBI take such crimes against U.S. citizens seriously.”
“Radha Sterling [sic] could not have planned anything because she knew about the Latifa escape only from March 2, 2018,” he wrote.
Then, Stirling said, Latifa phoned her from the boat in the middle of the ambush, saying she feared for her life and “was hearing gunshots.”
They’ve mounted an extraordinarily slick—and convincing—PR campaign ostensibly aimed at rescuing her.
Scottish Legal News
The British Irish Commercial Bar Association (BICBA) should cancel an arbitration seminar in Dubai because of wide-scale legal abuse and corruption in the UAE, a campaign group has said.
Ms Stirling has alleged that Habib Al Mulla, chair of DIAC and a speaker at the BICBA event, has been “directly responsible for serious legal malpractice against British nationals that would see him disbarred and very likely imprisoned in the UK”.
She said the case, which is outlined on her organisation’s website, is “a perfectly evidenced example of legal abuse and corruption in the UAE”.
Ms Stirling added: “We, as an organisation, have dealt with countless other cases of very similar abuses, confirming that the UAE has an immature legal system, is subject to regular abuse and can not be considered a stable or competent jurisdiction for any dispute resolution or arbitration, particularly when the Chairman himself is a practitioner of these abuses.
“The UAE’s legal failings have been highlighted in UK judicial proceedings, in the media and via our organisation’s website, which has since been banned and censored in the UAE. However, it is also hidden by the Dubai Media Office whose public relations department tries to disguise these regular failings with positive publicity.
“The government has chosen to invest in public relations, rather than in actual judicial improvement, the elimination of abuse and corruption.
“The BICBA should reconsider promoting a jurisdiction that systematically abuses British nationals for, if they do, they are supporting and condoning these violations.”
Mr Cooper, an extradition barrister, said: “I have successfully defended a number of clients against extradition requests from the UAE, have worked closely with Radha Stirling of Detained in Dubai, and have become well versed with UAE judicial abuses of procedure and law.
“Based on my experience and knowledge, I would not recommend that the BICBA promote the DIAC as a centre for arbitration at this time. The UAE needs to address and remedy judicial failings before it should be considered as a possible legal jurisdiction of choice.”
“Before the crisis, the check issue wasn’t highlighted to foreigners. It’s only since the crisis that this has really come to light publicly,” said Radha Stirling, a lawyer and founder of Detained in Dubai, a pressure group lobbying on behalf of inmates in the emirate.
The Times of Israel & Haaretz Articles:
Shahravesh’s case is only one of some 10,000 handled by the British organization Detained in Dubai since its founding in 2008, according to the organization’s founder Radha Stirling. The group helps people with legal problems in the Middle East but primarily in the UAE, including both civil and criminal cases. Its clients include tourists, businesspeople, people on relocation, investors and more, stated Stirling, who is British and American. Anyone can easily get into trouble in the UAE, she says.
Shahravesh could have been jailed for two years, but ultimately was freed after paying a fine of about $800, and returned home to Britain after a month. The story drew significant media attention. The story is crazy, but it’s not such an aberration, states Stirling.
Stirling founded Detained in Dubai after a colleague was jailed there, and she led the campaign to free him. The media attention from that case brought appeals from other people seeking legal help in Dubai and the region. Alongside her work with the organization, she also works in risk assessment for businesses interested in investing in the Gulf and with human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The organization handles various cases. Those involving tourists often relate to accusations of alcohol consumption, or inappropriate conduct or dress, she says. And then there are the cases involving the UAE’s cybercrime laws, under which a person can be jailed for sending a message or email that’s considered rude or coarse, even if it’s to a friend or romantic partner.
Likewise, criticizing the regime is illegal; it’s even illegal to discuss the case of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, whose father had ordered Harron’s release. Sheikha Latifa was reportedly abducted and brought back to Dubai while trying to flee the UAE in 2018. Journalists and human rights activists are at risk, as is anyone who voices criticism online, Stirling says.
And then there are the risks of doing business. A foreigner can be arrested over a bounced check or debts, she says. Business conflicts between locals and foreigners are frequent, Stirling says, because Emiratis know how to deal with the authorities, and the foreigners pay the price. A single complaint is enough to send another to jail, particularly if it comes from an influential local, such as a police officer or a respected businessman. Around half of Detained in Dubai’s clients are businesspeople who had conflicts with a local partner, she says.
In many cases, a foreigner makes an investment in the UAE, and the local partners decide that they want full control, she says. That’s very easy for the local partner, while the foreigner winds up in jail or is forced to leave the country, she says. Most of these cases are never reported in the media.
Stirling’s organization works with foreign governments such as the United States or Canada, which pressure the UAE to free detainees, including those who have never been charged. It also uses the international press as a means of pressuring the UAE, which wants the West to see it as a safe place, she says.
The situation there has improved somewhat over the years, she notes – once women were jailed for reporting rape, but that’s beginning to change thanks to Detained in Dubai’s lobbying. It still happens, but less so, Stirling says.
But on the whole, things haven’t really changed, she states. The UAE claims to have changed, and while there have been minor amendments to its alcohol laws and other laws, but it’s ultimately a smoke screen, she says.
They present themselves as Western and modern, but it’s all marketing, she says. Sheikha Latifa’s kidnapping is an example of the UAE’s growing brazenness, she says. The UAE thinks it can get away with anything and that’s worrying, she states.
The deal with Israel, a democratic country, will help whitewash the UAE, giving it legitimacy to further violate human rights, she states. The UAE gains more than Israel, because the agreement frames it as an advanced country, when in practice it’s more similar to Saudi Arabia, she says.
Stirling says all this should serve as a warning for Israelis who visit Dubai – there is a lot of detention without charges, and a lot of xenophobia. The UAE is one of the most dangerous places for a Westerner to invest, and should a local make an accusation against an Israeli, the local will be treated much better.
She also warns Israelis to be careful about what they say online – there was a case of a man who was detained after tweeting that he’d received bad service from a local car rental agency, she notes.
In the old story from the Arabian Nights, Ali Baba discovers a cave full of stolen treasure which can only be accessed by uttering a magic phrase. One needs the magic phrase to exit the cave as well, but, as the story goes, in the throes of greed and excitement over the treasures, people are prone to forget it, and they end up getting killed by the thieves.
Israelis might want to bear this story in mind as the United Arab Emirates opens up to them with the magic words of the Abraham Accords. From an investor’s point of view, it is indeed a treasure trove of opportunity, immense wealth, and untapped potential. Like the character in the fable, however, many foreign investors become heady with the often-easy success they achieve in Dubai. They forget that they are in a highly dangerous place where exits can abruptly close, and they can find themselves trapped.
I and my organization have become known for representing foreigners in the UAE who ran afoul of local customs, detained over minor infractions like alcohol consumption, taking snapshots at the wrong place, kissing in public, and so on. But, by far the greatest proportion of cases we handle involve business and financial disputes between foreign investors and local partners. The former types of cases reveal how easy it is to be arrested and prosecuted in the UAE on the basis of frivolous allegations; the latter reveal just how such a capricious legal system can be utilized against foreigners for predatory purposes to disastrous effect.
A former senior adviser to one of the Emirati rulers told me in no uncertain terms that the attitude of the government is that “any money invested in the UAE, any money earned in the UAE, belongs to the UAE,” and the justice system is designed to ensure that this principle is upheld. Tens of thousands of Israelis are already flocking to Dubai, both as tourists and as professionals and investors looking to start new projects, careers, and to set up new lives. I fear they are rushing in with the naïve expectation that as long as they follow the rules, there’s no risk; but the rules are rigged.
It is counter-intuitive, yet the more successful you are in the Emirates, the more vulnerable you become. Multimillion-dollar companies built up from nothing by foreigners are routinely appropriated by locals with the full complicity of the courts. False allegations, forged evidence, forced confessions, and a legal system overwhelmingly biased in favor of Emiratis, leave foreigners with little to do but watch themselves being railroaded.
A single bounced check can land you in jail, or see you listed on Interpol like an international fugitive. Lest you think a bounced check can be avoided; no matter how conscientiously you may manage your company, standard practice in the UAE includes the issuance of security checks to landlords, suppliers, and creditors; and they can choose to submit these for payment at any time, regardless of the agreed-upon terms. Any foreign-owned company, and any joint venture between a foreigner and a local, are essentially captive prey.
I would advise pursuing mutual investment projects whereby any local with whom you partner in the UAE also partners with you in Israel, to leverage against the Emiratis’ perennial option of nullifying your stake in the partnership. Whenever possible, contractually stipulate that any joint ventures should be arbitrated under Israeli jurisdiction.
It has only been a matter of weeks, and we are already seeing allegations being cast against Israeli visitors to the UAE, from stealing hotel towels to smuggling drugs. The peace deal honeymoon is likely over, and it needs to be recognized that there are plenty of reasons why the UAE can be even more treacherous for Israelis than it is for the average foreign investor or tourist. While citizens of the UAE tend to embrace the position of their government, Emirati locals only make up a sliver of the total population in the UAE. The country is a hub for Arabs and Muslims from across the region, some of whom may harbor anti-Israeli sentiment. With just a single accusation of wrongdoing, a bitter anti-Semite may score his own personal victory against Israel by having you locked up. We have handled countless cases in which innocent people were spitefully targeted with false allegations for the pettiest of personal reasons by their accusers. In a region with historical animosity towards Israelis, the vulnerability to such vindictive legal abuse is all the greater.
The Abraham Accords are a wonderful thing, but they did not reform the UAE. You must be aware of the enormous risks faced by foreigners, and particularly by Israelis, in the Emirates to ensure that the treasure cave does not become a tomb for your capital and your freedom.
The Independent Articles
If you're shocked by a woman being arrested after reporting gang-rape in Dubai, you should know how common these cases are - Author, Radha Stirling
Incidences like this are not uncommon in the glitzy Gulf, which wants you to think it's more liberal than it is. South African national Roxanne Hillier was jailed for seven months after it was alleged she spent time alone with her male employer – even after medical reports showed they hadn't had sex.
A British national from the North West has been charged with sex outside marriage in Dubai after she reported having been gang-raped by two men from Birmingham. The men were due to return to the UK within a few hours of the incident, so were not arrested in the UAE as a result of the victim report. The 25-year-old was on her way to pursue a life in Australia when she was befriended by two fellow Englishmen who, it was reported, lured her to their hotel room where she was pinned down and raped while recording it on a phone.
Following her arrest for extramarital sex, this woman’s passport has been confiscated and she is prohibited from leaving the country. She is essentially under “country arrest” while she awaits legal proceedings against her. The prescribed punishments for extramarital sex in the UAE include imprisonment, deportation, floggings and stoning to death.
Incidences like this are not uncommon in the Gulf. Dubai struggles to maintain its promoted reputation of being tolerant, modern, progressive and focussed on happiness and positivity, while it regularly victimises women for reporting crime. All of the glamour, glitz and fireworks displays in the world press cannot disguise the negative image that incidences like this one generate.
Over the past decade, my group Detained in Dubai has unfortunately been involved in a number of similar cases, causing us to lobby for judicial improvements in crime report handling. Alicia Gali, an Australian national who has spoken publicly and extensively about her own ordeal, spent eight months in jail after being drugged and violently raped. With broken bones and evidence of serious assault, her abuse was continued by the authorities through the UAE’s legal processes.
Other cases include a Norwegian woman who was sentenced to 16 months in prison after having reported her rape. Only after Norwegian diplomats intervened was she able to leave the UAE, once the ruler issued her a pardon.
South African national Roxanne Hillier was jailed for seven months after it was alleged she spent time alone with her male employer. Despite medical reports returning that she had not engaged in sexual intercourse, she was still sentenced.
A common question we are asked as an organisation is whether a victim of crime should actually report it in Dubai. Whether it is a rape, assault, slander or less serious crime, we always explain the risks involved in reporting anything to the police. The victim can be jailed themselves or subject to retaliatory accusations that can lead to lengthy detentions or legal proceedings. One thing that rings true is that the system and its applications are volatile.
The UAE’s judicial system is relatively new and therefore underdeveloped. Even though the government is aware of the gross failings and abuses of justice, they seem to be more interested in funding projects that can be marketed in glossy magazines. It is all about appearances, not functionality.
The UAE knows our weaknesses. As tourists, we are attracted to the country because of the seven-star hotels, malls and entertainment and of course this won’t change. When a failing judicial system meets dazzling tourism, some expats and tourists are going to feel the harsher side of Dubai, the side that can see innocent people victimised by the law.
With no embassy support, no legal aid and predatorily expensive lawyers, we have prepared "Proponence", a Membership Programme that will provide the kind of support that foreigners need when traveling to risky, but attractive, locations. It will provide legal and emergency support to people in this exact situation and we hope it will prevent unnecessarily protracted negative experiences for members.
Detained in Dubai (DiD), a legal organisation which had taken up his case, said Mr Coppins learned on Sunday that charges against him had been dropped. His passport has been returned and he has been told he is free to return home.
DiD chief executive Radha Stirling said: “We welcome the decision by Dubai authorities to take the humane and sensible course with Perry.
“This case should never have escalated to the point of criminal charges, but without the scrutiny of the international media, it is unlikely that Perry would be a free man tonight.
“In the absence of such attention, what was essentially a misjudgment by one customs official turned into a literally life-threatening situation for Perry.”
DiD claimed Mr Coppins was denied his medication in custody, and his condition deteriorated rapidly as he suffered severe withdrawal, including hallucinations, bouts of blindness and weight loss.
His hands and feed were shackled in prison and he spent all of his savings on legal costs and living expenses while awaiting a 15 January trial, the organisation added.
Ms Stirling said: “We advise caution to all visitors, including those transiting through the UAE to utilise caution when doing so.
“As we have seen in many cases recently, such as Asa Hutchinson, who was merely in the vicinity of an alleged crime, even if someone has not broken the law, they can still find themselves facing prosecution.”
Dubai: British tourist Jamie Harron sentenced to three months 'for accidentally touching a man's hip' in bar
Campaign group Detained in Dubai (DiD) said Mr Harron, from Stirling, Scotland, was “angry, disappointed, and dreads what may happen next”.
He is not being held in custody while the appeal is considered, according to DiD chief executive Radha Stirling.
Ms Stirling said: “Now Jamie has been sentenced to three months; there is no telling whether a judgement on appeal will be better or worse.
“He has already suffered tremendously as a result of these allegations, and now faces the likelihood of incarceration.
“His family was unable to visit him during this critical time because they faced a very real risk of imprisonment themselves under the UAE’s cyber crime laws which forbid criticism of the government.
“At this point, Jamie will definitely be pursuing civil action against his accusers when he does eventually return home, as it appears that he will not be able to find justice in the UAE.”
She added: “He feels betrayed and exploited by the system, which did not investigate the reports of key witnesses in his defence and led him to believe that the case would be dropped.”
“Escape from Dubai” - The mystery of the missing princess (Documentary starring Radha Stirling, Hervé Jaubert & Princess Latifa).
Radha Stirling reveals her chilling final conversation with Princess Latifa during her abduction.
BBC interviews Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai. Farhan Qurashi, Safi's brother features too. BBC examines the Dubai legal system with regards to financial crimes and bounced cheques
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai, who broke the story of Princess Latifa Al Maktoum in 2018, talks to Emma Barnett on BBC Women's Hour.
Woman faces “£100,000 fine and 2 years in prison” for WhatsApp message in Dubai
British woman in tears after Dubai police advise her she faces a “500,000 dirham fine, two years in prison and deportation”.
Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai and Due Process International announced that the woman detained in Dubai has been asked to attend the police station today in an attempt to persuade the Ukrainian complainant to drop the case.
Dubai drug raid: 'No reason' to hold Liverpool flight attendant
A British flight attendant is being detained in Dubai with "what appears to be no case to answer" over a drugs raid, her MP has said.
Campaign group Detained in Dubai, which is assisting her, said she had been treated "appallingly".
'Bread and jam'
Detained in Dubai's chief executive Radha Stirling said it was "absurd" Ms Crawford was being held by Dubai police, and that she had been in the "wrong place at the wrong time" as her "date allegedly possessed marijuana".
She told the BBC: "Derrin visited an apartment, and was arrested and detained for something she had no control over."
She said the conditions she is being kept in were "appalling and dangerous".
"Human rights violations are thoroughly documented. We are concerned about Derrin's safety."
BBC Radio Kent talks with Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai who is representing James and Stanley.
Radha Stirling, from Detained in Dubai has taken up the case: 'Both James and Stanley cannot afford the never ending demands of the rental company. Visiting Dubai has been the most expensive mistake of their lives'.
Stirling speaks of the brutal death of Lee Bradley Brown, who was killed in Dubai police custody. An inquiry into his death is ongoing.
BBC discusses the arrest of Scott Richards under the UAE's new cybercrime laws that prohibit liking or sharing charities that are not registered in the UAE.
BBC Radio 4 reports on the recent death of British Citizen in Dubai Police Custody.
BBC South East (TV) discusses students detained in Dubai over rental car extortion with Radha Stirling
BBC's Piers Hopkirk talks with Detained in Dubai's CEO, Radha Stirling on the detention of James Due-Wiafe and Stanley Kundishora.
James and Stanley talk directly about their holiday nightmare in Dubai.
Detained in Dubai are representing the boys and have appealed to Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed to intervene and help these university students get home to their families and back to school.
Detained in Dubai said Laleh Shahravesh could be sentenced to up to two years in prison or fined £50,000, despite the 55-year-old writing the Facebook posts ‘horse face’ while in the UK.
The organisation said Ms Shahravesh's ex-husband's new wife, who lives in Dubai, reported the comments.
It said Ms Shahravesh and her daughter flew to the UAE on 10 March to attend the funeral of their husband and father, who had died of a heart attack.
At the time of her arrest, Ms Shahravesh was with her 14-year-old daughter, who later had to fly home on her own, it added.
The chief executive of Detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, told BBC News that both her organisation and the Foreign Office (FCO) had asked the complainant to withdraw the allegation, but she had refused.
The decision "seems quite vindictive really", she added.
Ms Stirling said her client had been bailed, but her passport had been confiscated and she was currently living in a hotel.
She said Ms Shahravesh was "absolutely distraught" and it was going to take her a long time to recover from her ordeal.
Her daughter was "very upset" and had "been through really what you would call hell", she said.
"All she wants is to be reunited with her mother," Ms Stirling added.
The 14-year-old was putting together an appeal in her mother's case, Ms Stirling said.
She added that "no-one would really be aware" of the severity of cyber-crime laws in the UAE, and the FCO had failed to adequately warn tourists about them.”
BBC Scotland Radio: Conor Howard extradition to Qatar from Greece with Radha Stirling & Kenny MacAskill MP
BBC Scotland interviews Radha Stirling and Kenny MacAskill MP on the arrest of Conor Howard in Corfu, Greece on a Qatar issued Interpol Red Notice.
Conor Howard, a young Scottish man has been detained for extradition in Greece and faces deportation to Qatar over an herb grinder found in his luggage while transiting through Doha last year.
Radha Stirling, founder of Detained in Dubai and Due Process International has been helping the family. Stirling is an Interpol and Extradition expert specialising in Interpol notices from the Middle East with over a decade's experience.
Stirling says Qatar is one of the most prevalent abusers of Interpol's databases and that Western nations should not be making arrests on their behalf.
The British government has been lobbied to intervene in this case which Kenny MacAskill emphasises, is not a legal matter but a diplomatic matter.
BBC Radio 4 Today Interview with Radha Stirling, Founder and CEO of the campaign group Detained in Dubai (https://www.detainedindubai.org/).
Radha discusses the case of Laleh Shahravesh, who recently faced prison in Dubai for calling her ex-husband's new wife a "horse" on Facebook. Radha discusses the UAE's cyber security law and states: "It's highly risky to go to the UAE. It's the most likely place for British nationals to run into legal troubles abroad."
William Barclay had been accused of trying to exchange a fake £20 note during a family holiday.
Radha Stirling, of Detained in Dubai, who represented Mr Barclay, said that without international support and publicity, he could have been held for many months, if not years, which has been the case with other British nationals.
"The (UK) embassy did nothing for me. The government over there only started helping me last night because of Radha Stirling's work. "If it wasn't for the press, I wouldn't be back today."
Campaign group, Detained in Dubai, who has taken on his case, said he is the victim of "shameful police misconduct".