United Arab Emirates - Judicial system





Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah have developed relatively sophisticated judicial systems based, as in other Gulf states, on a combination of Shari'ah laws and contemporary legal codes. The 1971 constitution established a Federal Supreme Court and an indeterminate number of courts of first instance. The Supreme Court consists of a president and a maximum of five judges, all of whom are appointed by presidential decree upon approval of the Federal Supreme Council. The Supreme Court president and member judges are deemed independent of the executive and legislative branches; once appointed, they cannot be removed. As of 1978 the lower courts were incorporated into a unified federal judiciary consisting of four tribunals.

Shari'ah courts in each emirate are subject to review in the Federal Supreme Court. There is no separate national security court system. Military tribunals try only military personnel and apply a system based on Western military judicial procedure.

Court systems in the Emirates of Dubai and Ra's-al-Khaimah function independently of the federal system. Each system has multiple levels of appeal and verdicts in capital cases are appealable to the president.

There are no jury trials. Under the Criminal Procedural Code, the accused has a right to counsel in capital cases and in those involving a possible penalty of life imprisonment. Due process rights are uniform under both the civil court and the Shari'ah court procedure.

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