Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Going To Dubai? Check Your Shoes

Read today about the Radio One DJ Grooverider being sent to prison in the UAE for four years because he carried 2.16g of cannabis in his luggage. Now, that's a pretty stupid thing to do anywhere - despite the relatively small amount of the drug in question - but to carry it into a Muslim country is just asking for trouble.

The UAE have form on this zero tolerance approach. A 43 year old youth worker from the West Midlands was also sentenced to four years in jail for carrying much, much less. By much, much less, I mean "invisible to the naked eye and weighing less than a grain of sugar". And when I say carrying, I mean "had stuck in the tread of his shoe".

Fair Trials International put out a press release earlier this month highlighting the other cases of the past twelve months that have caused them some concern.

Here are some of the more absurd examples:

Tracy Wilkinson, 45 of West Sussex
Arrested at Dubai airport in 2005 for possession of codeine, a common pain relief medication, which she had been using to ease chronic back pain. She was held in custody for 8 weeks before officials accepted proof from her doctor of its use for prescribed medical purposes only.

Robert Dalton, 25 from Kent
Robert travelled to Dubai on 13 November 2007 for a holiday after finishing his economics degree. He was stopped and searched at the airport and arrested after Customs officers alleged they found 0.03g of cannabis in his pockets. He is currently on trial and if convicted, will mostly likely receive a 4 year prison sentence.

20-year old man from West Yorkshire
Arrested at Dubai airport on 16 January 2008 while travelling back to the UK from Pakistan. Currently standing trial in Dubai after Customs officers alleged they found 0.02g cannabis in his pocket.

British resident Cat Le-Huy
Arrested in Dubai for carrying Melatonin jet-lag tablets, which are sold over the counter in the US and Dubai. Mr Le-Huy told BBC News he was forced to sign a document in Arabic and was refused a translator. He said once the tablets were proved to be Melatonin, police took what he described as dirt from his bag and said they were now testing it to see if it was cannabis.

And most bizarrely of all;

A Swiss national currently serving 4 years after 3 poppy seeds were found on his clothes by customs officials at Dubai airport. He had bought and eaten a bread roll at Heathrow before flying to UAE.

So be aware when travelling to the UAE, I'd suggest you buy completely new clothes before travelling. Oh, and make sure any drugs you might have taken have completely passed out of your system, as the UAE government also consider anything in your urine or bloodstream to be "carrying". Just so you know.

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Anonymous The devil said...

Thanks for the scare ... will you bail me out of jail when I go there in April? As I will no doubt have something they consider drugs.


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