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Stirling urges FCO to update travel warnings in light of Laleh Shahravesh case

Press release   •   Apr 12, 2019 13:02 BST

Calls to Sir Simon McDonald to increase UAE travel warnings

British legal group Detained in Dubai has urged the FCO to update its UAE travel warnings to UK tourists in an open letter penned by the organisation’s head, Radha Stirling.

“We have frequently called upon the FCO to provide more accurate information to Britons about the many risks they face in the UAE which the current advisory does not cover,” Stirling said. “It is simply not enough to warn people to obey the laws and customs, when very often the legal system itself poses a threat even to law-abiding tourists who may be subjected to false arrests, fabricated cases, forced confessions, torture, and lack of representation.”

Stirling’s letter specifically highlights the dangers inherent in the UAE’s Cybercrime laws, under which Laleh Shahravesh was prosecuted. In the letter to Permanent Under Secretary of State Sir Simon McDonald, head of the FCO, Stirling said:

“This warning is insufficient in light of the Shahravesh case, insofar as it does not explain that a British citizen can, in fact, be prosecuted if they ever visit the UAE, for posting material online in the UK which anyone inside the UAE may deem offensive.

It is vital for British citizens to be aware before traveling to the UAE that their entire social media history must adhere to UAE standards of acceptable content before they risk entering the country.”

The Cybercrime laws, she says, are irresponsibly vague and can easily be misapplied, as in Laleh’s case, in matters that have nothing to do with public endangerment, hate speech, or incitement to violence. “UAE Cybercrime laws subordinate the police, prosecutors, and courts to the tyranny of individual egos,” Stirling explained. “If anyone in the UAE is offended by someone’s online content, even if they do not know that person, and even if that person posted the content in a different country; a criminal case can be made and an arrest warrant issued. It is an enormous threat to free speech well beyond the borders of the UAE.”

- Ends

Notes:  PDF of Letter to FCO attached.

Detained in Dubai has produced numerous reports on the UAE's Cybercrime Laws:

In Depth: Cryptic Cybercrime Laws of the Emirates - Do not assume compliance… Threats? Lustful Texts? Public Morality? Discussing news? Privacy violations?

Radha Stirling, is founder and CEO of UK / USA based legal and human rights organisation Detained in Dubai, Expert Witness and respected analyst of Middle East Policy.

UAE Criminal and Civil Justice Specialists.  Contact us on or

(UK) +44 207 060 6900   (USA) +1 786 789 2347   @Twitter   @Facebook

Copyright © Detained in Dubai 2007-2018. Detained in Dubai Limited, is registered in England and Wales under company number 11248768 with its registered office at Kemp House, 180 City Road, London EC1 2NX UK

Attached Files

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Comments (3)

    This is actually just a terrible situation, I really hope that everything will calm down in the near future

    - Apkdrod - Aug 08, 2019 15:13 BST

    This is actually just a terrible situation, I really hope that everything will calm down in the near future

    - Apkdrod - Aug 08, 2019 21:29 BST

    Really sad story

    - TopCasinoPlanet - Dec 28, 2019 20:50 GMT

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