“Justice delayed is justice denied”. It is the lawmakers’ responsibility to ensure that the victims or the accused are not deprived of the opportunity to have a speedy and fair trial. Hence, they have incorporated provisions in the penal act to hold any person liable for any act or omission committed due to which justice was delayed or has led to the judicial process’s abuse. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), articles 253 to 287 of the Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 concerning the Penal Code (the Penal Code) cover all the offences that tend to hinder the justice process and the penalty applicable for such offences.
Witnesses play a vital role in determining the veracity of the accusation. Therefore, witnesses can be imposed with a penalty if they are found concealing the truth or any relevant facts related to the case or found lying, which has led to the other person’s erroneous legal prosecution. Articles 253 to 261 of the Penal Code lays down the penalty for hindering the judicial process by giving false testimony as follows: Article 253 of the Penal Code states: If a person gives untrue testimony or conceals all or part of the relevant facts of the case that the person is aware of, or repudiates the truth before any judicial body or competent authority that has the jurisdiction to hear such witnesses under oath, then he shall be made subject to imprisonment for a minimum period of three (3) months. However, if the above-stated acts have been committed during the investigation period for a felony or during the trial period, he shall be made subject to temporary imprisonment. Further, if such false testimony has led to the death sentence or life imprisonment of any person, he shall also be imposed with the same punishments. If any medical practitioner or midwife agrees to give false testimony regarding pregnancy, birth, illness, disability or death, in return for any kind of promise or privilege or because of any request or intercession by someone, shall be subject to imprisonment for a minimum period of three (3) months.
However, if the witness is found to be involved in perjury in the above stated last two points due to which a person has been made subject to legal prosecution or imposed with a judgement, then the witness shall be made subject to imprisonment for a period of six (6) months.
Article 257 of the Penal Code states that, if any expert, translator or investigator who is appointed by the judicial authorities in a civil or criminal lawsuit or by any other competent administrative body, tends to establish any incident against the actual truth or has given wrong interpretation, shall be imposed with imprisonment for a period not less than one (1) year but not more than a period of five (5) years. Where such acts have been committed by them in a case of a felony, then shall be imposed with only temporary imprisonment. Further, such convicted experts, translators or investigators shall be prohibited from being re-appointed to carry forth such tasks. If any person coerces the witness by either using any kind of force, threat or induces the witness by offering any kind of gifts, benefits to convince the witness to conceal any relevant fact or give false statements or information or hide the evidence from the judicial authorities shall be made subject to severe fines and imprisonment. A penalty not exceeding a minimum of two (2) years of imprisonment and a fine of UAE Dirhams ten thousand (AED 10,000), shall be imposed on any litigant in a civil case if such litigant has sworn contrary to the truth. Any witness who denies to take an oath or give testimony before any competent judicial body shall be liable to be made subject to imprisonment for a period, not more than one (1) year and a fine of UAE Dirhams five thousand (AED 5000).
Articles 266 to 271 of the Penal Code lays down the provisions as to the penalties applicable on any person who involves in any such actions that delayed the judicial process as follows: Article 266 of the Penal Code stipulates that any person who tampers the condition of persons, place or things or hides the evidence related to the crime or gives wrong information to mislead justice shall be made subject to imprisonment. Further, if any person who hides, damages or takes custody of any document, deed, or any other such issue submitted to the competent authorities, to mislead the courts or the investigating authorities shall be made subject to imprisonment or fine. Further, if any person purposely delays or abstains in submitting any legally asked documents or transcriptions that are useful to establish the relevant facts before the court, then shall be made subject to imprisonment for a period of six (6) months or a fine which is not more than UAE Dirhams five thousand (AED 5000). If any person who commits any act of concealing, or disposing of, or destroying a property seized by the court’s order with a malice intention of hindering the execution proceedings of such property shall be made liable to be imposed with imprisonment for period not more than two (2) years and a fine of not beyond UAE Dirhams one hundred thousand (AED 100,000). If a public servant is deliberately involved in the act of not executing a judgement order, then the above-stated penalty shall be applicable. Further, if any person who hides a dead body of a person who passes away in an accident or buries the dead body shall be made subject to imprisonment. If any person buries the dead body of a person who passes away naturally without obtaining permission from the competent authorities, in that case, they shall be made liable to be imposed with imprisonment for more than three (3) months or a fine.
Every person who is aware of the crime that occurred is obligated to report it to the legal experts in order to ensure justice is served, failing to do so can make such a person liable to face severe charges as it amounts to as hindering the judicial process. Articles 272 to 274 of the Penal Code lays down provisions as to the penalties applicable on persons who abstain from reporting the crime as follows:
However, in the above circumstance, the only persons who are aware of such crime and yet has not reported to the competent authorities can be exempted from being penalized are, if the person who committed the crime happens to be their spouse, siblings, ascendants or descendants or if the lawsuit is conditional upon complaint. Further, if the crime that came to the knowledge of any medical practitioner while giving treatment to any severely injured person or examining the dead body, but fails to report it to the competent authorities shall be imposed with imprisonment for a period, not more than one (1) year or fine of UAE Dirhams twenty thousand dirhams (AED 20,000).
Article 275 of the Penal Code states that if any person who falsely reports of any accident, danger or a crime which is not committed to the competent authorities shall be made subject to imprisonment for a period of not more than six (6) months and a fine or either of these penalties. Further, article 276 of the Penal Code states that, if any person falsely accuses someone of committing a crime that they have not committed or fabricates pieces of evidence against a person to falsely accuse such person of a crime they didn’t commit, or has caused the authorities to take legal actions against an innocent, shall be made subject to imprisonment and fine or either of these penalties. If such false accusation has resulted in imposing a penalty applicable for an offence of felony upon an innocent person, then such a person who falsely accused shall also be inflicted by the same penalty as that the innocent person was imposed with.
Articles 280 to 287 of the Penal Code lays down the penalties that can be imposed on an accused or the convict who attempts to escape or the person who helps in such escaping as follows:
Any person who destroys or breaks off the seal put by the competent authorities on any place, papers or any other such things, shall be made subject to imprisonment for a period not more than one (1) year or a fine of not more than UAE Dirhams ten thousand (AED 10,000). If any person who tampers, tears, destroys any appropriated papers, documents or any other such things which are deposited complying to a judgement, shall be imposed with imprisonment for a period not more than five (5) years. Further, imprisonment, not more than six (6) months and a fine not more than UAE Dirhams five thousand (AED 5000), shall be imposed on any person who was entrusted with the safety and preservation of any sealed documents, has been destroyed or tampered because of their negligence.
Articles 262 to 265 of the Penal Code provides that any person who by any means of public attempts to influence judges, public prosecution, experts, witnesses or experts in a manner leading to unjust judicial process shall be liable to face severe penalties.