Dubai residents risk arrest over new law forcing them to register cohabitants
Dubai is one of the most surveilled cities in the world but now they are going a step further, requiring all residents to register their residence and cohabitants. Detained in Dubai’s Radha Stirling highlights the risks:
“There is no doubt this move is to gather intelligence for Dubai’s endless database cross referencing. They want to know who knows whom and map out the connections.
In just a few years time, they will have enough data to work out current and historical ties. The issue is that law enforcement in Dubai are not equipped to properly manage the data and it will most certainly lead to arbitrary detention like that of Andy Neal. The family man was arrested because of a loose connection to a neighbour who had been detained over drugs. After more than a year in prison, the PTSD sufferer was fully exonerated.
This data grab will show not only who has lived with whom, but potential relationships with neighbours. Dubai has a history of casting a wide net when it comes to investigating crimes, particularly where drugs are related. Police don’t think twice about arresting dozens of people over loose connections and even prosecuting them on the flimsiest of evidence.
Hundreds of foreign nationals are on travel bans with outstanding arrest warrants over debt or civil related disputes. They are forced to stay in the country without a work permit while they try their best to resolve fines and civil judgments. Disclosing their location puts them at risk of arrest and detention. Many foreign nationals will refuse to disclose their residence, putting themselves in violation of yet another law.
Women who have fled their abusive husbands will further be at risk if required to disclose their residence. Male guardianship is still prevalent in the UAE and, as we have seen in the past, if the husband has a friendly connection with police, he will be able to obtain her address.
Homosexuality is still prohibited in Dubai and gay couples will be put at risk of prosecution as the data processing highlights relationships. If a man is charged with homosexuality, the police will review his cohabitation history.
While it may appear like a small issue on the surface, Dubai law enforcement’s abuse of this data is not just a probability, it’s guaranteed.”