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Threat to National Security: UAE Intensifies Combat Against Seditious Activities

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Pavitra Shetty

Published on March 13, 2024, 08:34:27

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uae, sedition law, security, judicial, muslim brotherhood

In recent months, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been actively addressing threats to national security and stability through legislative measures and judicial proceedings.

As concerns over seditious activities proliferate, the UAE government has intensified efforts to combat such challenges, underscoring its commitment to upholding the rule of law and protecting its citizens and residents.

Amidst this backdrop, the Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal is currently hearing a landmark case involving 84 defendants accused of establishing a clandestine terrorist organization known as the "Committee for Justice and Dignity."

These individuals, allegedly affiliated with the banned Muslim Brotherhood, face charges of plotting violence and unrest within the UAE.

“This case mirrors the broader context of the UAE's response to threats posed by subversive activities. While legislative amendments target seditious content and activities online, the terrorism trial reveals the real-world consequences of such extremist ideologies.

The defendants' alleged efforts to incite public unrest through protests and violent confrontations underscore the gravity of the challenges faced by the UAE in maintaining law and order, said  Shulka Chavan Legal Associate at NYK Law Firm.

“The government's proactive stance, reflected in both legal reforms and judicial proceedings, highlights its commitment to upholding the rule of law and protecting its citizens and residents from destabilising forces. As the trial progresses and legislative measures are implemented, the UAE continues its efforts to preserve stability, security, and prosperity for all,” she added.

Amid growing concerns over the proliferation of seditious content and activities, authorities in the UAE have intensified efforts to combat threats to national unity and social cohesion. In December 2023, the UAE Cabinet approved amendments to Federal Decree-Law No. 5 of 2012 on Combating Cybercrimes, which include provisions targeting individuals and entities involved in seditious acts online.

Under the revised legislation, the dissemination of seditious material through digital platforms, social media, or any other electronic means is strictly prohibited, with stringent penalties imposed on offenders.

The amendments aim to curb the spread of false information, hate speech, and incitement to violence, thereby safeguarding the UAE's digital landscape from subversive influences.

Furthermore, in January 2024, the UAE Federal National Council (FNC) announced discussions on proposed amendments to Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 on Combating Information Technology Crimes, with a particular focus on enhancing provisions related to sedition.

The proposed amendments seek to strengthen legal mechanisms for prosecuting individuals engaged in seditious activities, including those involving the misuse of information technology.

In a recent statement, the Minister of Interior of the UAE underscored the importance of robust legislation to counter sedition and uphold national security.

He emphasised the need for proactive measures to address emerging threats in the digital age, reaffirming the government's commitment to preserving the UAE's societal fabric and values.

The UAE's stance on sedition reflects a broader trend in the region, with neighboring countries also prioritising legislative measures to combat destabilising forces and safeguard public order. By taking decisive action to strengthen its legal framework, the UAE aims to deter individuals and groups intent on undermining its sovereignty and disrupting social harmony.

While the UAE's efforts to bolster sedition laws have drawn praise from supporters of national security, critics have raised concerns about the potential impact on freedom of expression and civil liberties. Advocates for reform argue for a balanced approach that safeguards national interests while respecting fundamental rights and freedoms.

As debates surrounding sedition laws continue to unfold, the UAE remains steadfast in its commitment to preserving stability, security, and prosperity for all its citizens and residents.

With ongoing legislative reforms and proactive measures, the country seeks to mitigate risks posed by seditious activities and uphold its status as a beacon of security and progress in the region.

(The writer is a legal associate at Dubai-based NYK Law Firm)

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