The UAE is increasing its efforts to extradite foreign nationals who have returned to their own countries. A number of the extradition requests have been initiated as a result of business disputes. Others have been for allegations of theft, breach of trust or fraud, sometimes arising from debt alone.
Many expatriates who enter into business dealings in the UAE encounter problems that are criminalised when one party in a dispute makes a report to the police. In the UAE justice system, it is extremely difficult to defend allegations of criminality. The judicial system in itself has many failings including prejudice, the confiscation of the defendants passport (thereby rendering the defendant unable to seek employment throughout proceedings), lengthy delays and extremely costly defence lawyer fees. When an expat faces such challenging terrain, it is often wiser to leave the jurisdiction of the UAE and try to resolve a dispute in a civil way through negotiations from abroad.
However, leaving the UAE in advance of an anticipated police report means that the police case can proceed to prosecution and ultimately, to a conviction in absentia. From a conviction in absentia, the UAE is able to apply to Interpol to have the convicted person added to the Interpol Red Notice database. Usually a person will only discover that they are on Interpol when they travel through a border. At this point, the authorities will contact Interpol to notify them of the apprehension. Interpol will then contact the UAE authorities to ask them whether they would like to proceed to apply for extradition. If the UAE agrees to pursue extradition, (depending on the location of apprehension), most defendants will be given bail and lengthy extradition proceedings will commence.
We have assisted extradition defence teams for the past seven years and have seen all requests fail. However, one can never be complacent and each case needs to be taken very seriously with a complex defence submitted to the Courts. We work with the top extradition law firms and barristers and provide expert witness testimony in any jurisdiction where someone has been subjected to UAE extradition proceedings. Throughout Europe in particular, the noted human rights abuses in the UAE have left the Courts unconvinced that subjects will not be subjected to human rights violations in the event they are extradited to the UAE. This safeguard has been strengthened by the UK High Court´s ruling in the case of Lodhi and the Spanish Courts are following suit. We will be supporting the British National´s defence team and attending the hearing in Madrid to provide witness testimony. We do not expect that Spain will concede to the UAE´s application and expect the UAE to be wholly unsuccessful in their endeavours to have him returned.
Once the extradition request has been rejected, we will take steps to have the defendant permanently removed from the Interpol database to help ensure that proceedings can not be re-instated in a fresh jurisdiction in the future.
It is always better to try to resolve matters before they escalate to extradition proceedings, though this is not always possible where disputes get “out of hand” and particularly where a claimant refuses to negotiate or where egos or personal vendettas are involved. In some cases, the subject has been completely unaware that there was a dispute in the first place and therefore not even provided with an opportunity to try to resolve the matter. In other cases, threats of extradition have been used as a way to extort funds from the defendant even where they have been completely innocent of any allegations. The fact that a police case can be opened in the UAE with very little evidence, leaves foreigners at risk of extortion through threats of Interpol reports and extradition proceedings that cost the Complainant nothing… all costs are borne by the UAE government and therefore the system is left open to abuse.