DUBAI,(Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates, which has been spared al Qaeda attacks that have hit the Gulf Arab region, has amended its law to include harsher punishments for crimes against state security.
The amendments, which were posted by state agency WAM late on Saturday and published in local newspapers on Sunday, specify how to deal with offenders who commit crimes that threaten the state”s security or stability during war and peace.
Justice Minister Mohammed Nakhira al-Zahiri told English-language Khaleej Times newspaper the amendments were to update existing laws to protect the country against any aggression.
"The aim is to provide maximum protection to the state and national interests and to support all efforts that have to be exerted in this direction," Zahiri said.
Arabic daily Al Khaleej listed some of the amendments.
They include longer jail terms for crimes committed in peace and war, such as a 10 year sentence instead of 5 years for offenders cooperating with foreign states against national interest.
They also increase to 100,000 dirhams ($27,230) from 10,000 dirhams fines that the court imposes on some offenders.
Legal provisions applied to crimes against the president will now be applied to crimes against the vice president, supreme council members, crown prince and deputy rulers.
Pro-Western UAE, whose population is about 85 percent expatriate, has arrested militants in the past but has been spared Islamist attacks that have rocked neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar.
The UAE said in 2002 it was responsible for arresting Abd-al-Rahim al-Nashiri, identified as al Qaeda”s chief in the Gulf, and handing him over to Washington, which blames al Qaeda for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.
Last year, the country passed its first counter-terrorism law, bringing in strict sentences for offenders including the death penalty.