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UK Citizen Detained in Dubai for Touching Another Man's Hip in a Bar Could be Released Soon

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UK Citizen Detained in Dubai for Touching Another Man's Hip in a Bar Could be Released Soon

A British man who is facing up to three years in jail in the UAE on charges of public indecency for touching another man's hip in a crowded Dubai bar could be home soon after his accuser dropped the complaint he initially filed against him. 

Jamie Harron, a 27-year-old electrician from Stirling, has already been sentenced by Emirati courts to 30 days in absentia for drinking alcohol and making a rude gesture whilst in the down town Dubai party bar, the Rock Bottom. Although Harran admitted to drinking alcohol, he denied that he had made a rude gesture.    

The charge of public indecency, for which Harron could still face up to three years in jail for despite the complaint being dropped, came about in the same evening. Harron maintains that as he was navigating his way through the crowded Dubai bar whilst holding a drink, he put out his hand in front of him to avoid spilling it on himself and others, and as he did this he “touched a man on his hip to avoid impact.”   

According to Harron's representative, police arrived on the scene around 30 minutes later and arrested him. He had his passport confiscated and was held for five days in Al-Barsha prison where he was charged with public indecency before being released on bail. 

Harron, who is still due in court on October 22, looked likely to get a three sentence, however he may be back in Britain shortly after the businessman that issued the complaint against him dropped it upon realizing the severity of the punishment.  

A statement released to the media by his employer Nuemann & Esser said that “With a certain distance from the incident and the punishment to be expected for the suspect, our employee decided to withdraw the complaint despite the harassment having been confirmed by several witnesses.

“However, according to the typical laws for the country, this does not automatically result in the termination of the proceedings as, for example, very likely in England or Germany”, it continued. 

Chief Executive of detained in Dubai, Radha Stirling, said of the case, “Jamie is quite hopeful he will get back now, but the hearing is not set till 22 October. If they drop the charges now, it’s fine, but we will not hear back till then. The case has prompted 80 messages an hour of support and has even prompted calls for a boycott of the UAE over its treatment of expats and tourists.”  

Since his arrest in July, Harron has lost his job and spent £30,000 on legal fees. He initially went to Dubai on a two day stop over after he had been working in Afghanistan. He said in a statement on Wednesday, “I hope that it can be sorted out, but I already didn’t think it would have [gone] on for so many months in the first place. I’ve lost my job, I’m in debt now, I may be going to prison, and all this for a two-day stopover. It’s just unbelievable. I’m still in shock that it’s actually happened.”  

It is imperative that as cases such as these become more frequent, the Emirati authorities provide clearer information to foreign nationals about the law when they enter the country. Furthermore, more action needs to be taken by Foreign and Commonwealth Offices to raise awareness among their respective citizens of the real risks and dangers of travelling to the UAE, especially regarding the nations strict conservative laws around gender and sexuality. By not doing so, foreign nationals in the UAE are left increasingly vulnerable to arbitrary detention and other forms of ill-treatment at the hands of the Emirati authorities.

 

  1. For more information, comments or press queries, please contact the ICFUAE Team at joe@icfuae.org.uk or 447979666698
  2. For the original story, and more information, please see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/12/briton-facing-jail-in-dubai-for-touching-mans-hip-hopes-to-be-home-soon

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