Imprisonment or fine up to $136,000 in the UAE for swearing or defamation online

The UAE prosecutor’s office has warned that swearing online can lead to jail time and fines of up to $136,000 (AED 500,000). Penalties may extend to language use on social media and messaging channels.

The UAE’s strict laws on public conduct and speech also apply to online platforms, where users may face legal consequences for violating the rules on obscene language and defamation. The prosecutor’s recent warning serves as a reminder of these rules and the possible penalties for violating them.

Pursuant to Article 43 of Federal Decree-Law No. 34 of 2021 on Combating Electronic Crimes and Rumors, persons who swear or use slanderous language on an information network, technical means or information systems can be sentenced to imprisonment and/or a fine not less than AED 250,000 and not more than AED 500,000. In addition, penalties may be more severe if the acts are committed against public sector employees or any person performing a public service.

To raise awareness of criminal law in the UAE, the Public Prosecutor’s Office recently opened a new Criminal Clearinghouse called “Waey”. The center aims to promote legal literacy, positive behavior and tolerance in society through various initiatives and programs.

The Waey Center will also monitor negative social behaviors and phenomena that may affect the values of Emirati society and launch awareness campaigns to mitigate their negative effects. The center will use various media channels and the latest technology to reach all levels of society, especially young people, with its message.

In general, the UAE’s strict laws on public conduct and speech reflect the country’s efforts to maintain public order and uphold its cultural values. However, it is important to be aware of these rules and follow them, especially when using online platforms.

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