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UAE Criminal Laws against Defamation

Updated: Nov 12, 2022

In this digital era, where most individuals and businesses are available on social media and various websites, it is difficult to remove negative (even if untrue) information posted online. Unfortunately, some individuals consider these platforms as a way to ruin others reputation causing significant damages. Criminal Lawyers have determined the definition of Defamation as an illegal act committed by spreading false information about an individual or business resulting in a diminished reputation causing and/or financial loss.

Should you wish to understand the legalities surrounding defamation, reach out to our experienced team for assistance.

Federal Law number 3 of 1987 regarding Criminal Law of UAE imposes criminal penalties on alleged offenders of defamation. Article 372 and Article 373 of the criminal law specifically deals with defamation charges. Chapter VI of the Criminal Law provides for crimes against reputation, liable or abuse, and disclosure of secrets. Article 372 of the Criminal Law states as follows:

Whoever attributes to another person, by any means of publicity, an incident which makes him liable to punishment or contempt, shall be punished by detention for a period not exceeding two years or by a fine not exceeding twenty thousand Dirhams.

Furthermore, the article states that if the liable is committed against any public official who is in charge of public service, it will be observed that the liable was intended for an illegal purpose. Also, any liable by any means of publication shall be considered as aggravating circumstances. Article 373 imposes detention for a maximum period of one year and a fine not exceeding ten thousand Dirhams, who will disgrace the honor or modesty of another person by any means of publication without attributing any particular act to the defamed party. Similarly, the fine and detention period shall increase if the defamation was against any public official.

Analyzing the aforesaid articles, it is relevant for our readers to note that any defamation complaint shall always possess the following elements:

a. A statement which is false and defamatory;

b. The statement was mentioned before the third party in any form;

c. The statement had an adverse impact on the complaint's life.

Penalties under Cybercrime Law

In accordance with Federal Law, Number 2 of 2012 (the Cybercrime Law), any remark which is considered as defamation made on social media or via any other means of IT device will be termed as an offense and gross violation of Cybercrime Law. Further, Article 20 of the Cybercrime Law forbids individuals to insult others or pass any comments using any computer network or IT Device; else they will be prosecuted before the relevant court. Under Article 39 of the Cyber Crime law for any owner of any website or IT network to store or give unlawful substance, on the off chance that they know about the illicit substance. This implies websites and other platforms can likewise be held responsible for improper posts by individuals. A fine of AED 500,000 maximum can be imposed on whoever violates Article of 20 of the Cybercrime Law along with a deportation order.

Defamation is a criminal offense under the Criminal Law of UAE, and on the off chance that it happens by using IT devices the punishments under the Cyber Crime Law can be much extreme. People should scrutinize the hazard attached to such criminal activity which might be interpreted as reproachful or infuriating and ought to know that comments against religion, public officers, or relating to personal life, will in general draw in higher punishments.

We advise employers to revise and update any web utilization arrangements to explicitly allude to social media websites and should educate the employees regarding the consequences of such deeds.

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