Derrin Crawford may be stuck in Dubai for a very long time; the question is whether she will be in prison or banned from travel as a witness. The 23 year old air hostess from Liverpool was arrested in late June when Dubai police raided the apartment of a man she just started seeing. Derrin was in the apartment at the time, though clearly her date was the target of the raid; drugs were discovered on the premises, and both Derrin and the man were taken into custody.
Derrin has been arrested on allegations of possession of drugs with intent to distribute, despite having no drugs on her person or in her bloodstream, and the fact that the apartment was not her own, and her presence at the time of the police raid was simply coincidental.
According to Radha Stirling, CEO and founder of Detained in Dubai, who represents Derrin, she will be given another drug test and if it comes back again as negative, she may be released from the charges, but required to remain in the UAE as a witness. “Derrin only knew this man for 4 days before the raid occurred, and we are hopeful that he will submit a statement to the authorities confirming this, and that the narcotics found in his apartment belonged to him alone, and Derrin had no knowledge of them,” Stirling explained “She is being tested again, and when it is once more established that Derrin did not, and does not consume any drugs, we are told that the allegations against her may be dropped. However, the Public Prosecutor may require her to remain indefinitely in the UAE as a witness, both during the investigation and throughout any eventual trial.”
The UAE does not adhere to standard investigative and evidentiary procedures, Stirling cautioned, leading to many cases in which people who were simply in proximity to a crime become implicated and charged in it. “Andy Neal spent over a year in prison even while positive proof of his innocence was known to the police; the only thing linking him in any way to the real offenders was a name in his contact list apparently shared by one of the individuals targeted in the police investigation into a drug peddling ring. Asa Hutchinson was arrested and detained for months simply for being present during a scuffle in a hotel lobby; she was treated as an accomplice rather than as a witness.
“Foreigners visiting Dubai need to understand that the police cast a very wide net, often very randomly, when a crime is suspected, and anyone in proximity can be arbitrarily implicated and then coerced into making a false confession, frequently made to sign statements in Arabic they do not understand, and fast tracked to convictions. Alternatively, a person, like Derrin, can find themselves detained or subjected to a travel ban for weeks or months during prolonged investigations, which are often deliberately prolonged precisely to coerce suspects into confessing because the police lack any substantial evidence.
“Fortunately, legal representation has been arranged for her and It is our hope that Derrin will be released, and that the individual who allegedly possessed the illegal substances will clear her of any involvement or knowledge, so that Derrin will be allowed to return home as soon as possible. However, the FCO and consular staff need to follow up with the UAE authorities to ensure that acceptable standards of due process are observed, otherwise, Derrin could find herself stuck in the UAE against her will, and without cause, indefinitely.”