UAE law treats defamation as a serious crime as it harms a person’s reputation.
With the rapid growth of the information technology in every field including the communication platforms, there is an increase in the number of defamation cases.
In particular, The reason for this is the wide use of social networking sites and online portals among the common people. In order to attract the provisions of Article (20), the offender should have insulted or accused another person of a matter of which he shall be subject to punishment or being held in contempt by others, by using a computer network or an information technology means.
Generally, there are two kinds of defamation, i.e. libel and slander. In particular, Defamation in some permanent forms such as written or printed is called as libel. Likewise, slander is defamation in transient forms like spoken words or gestures.
Article 20, Federal Decree Law No. 5 Issued on 13 August 2012 Corresponding to 25 Ramadan 1433 H. ON COMBATING CYBERCRIMES
Under Article 20, any person who insults others or has attributed to another an incident that may make him subject to punishment or contempt by others by using an electronic site shall be punished by imprisonment or a fine of not less than AED 250,000 and not exceeding AED 500,000. Specifically, Insult or slander against public employees is considered an aggravating circumstance of the crime.
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Defamation by electronic means In addition, defamatory remarks made on social media or by any other electronic means including WhatsApp, websites, SMS and email may be an offence under Federal Law No. 5 of 2012 the “Cyber Crime Law”. Under Article 20 of the Cyber Crime Law it is an offence to insult others or have attributed to them an incident that may make them subject to punishment or contempt by others using a computer network or any information technology means.
Article 373 talks about a malicious or dishonest allegations against an individual which humiliates or demeans a person in the eyes of the public in general. In order to go ahead with a criminal complaint for defamation, the complainant must prove: That prima facie a fake or derogatory comment was made; Which was given to a third party written or verbal ; and That statement resulted in damage to the complainant. The Court of Cassation which is the highest court in the UAE opined that a defamatory statement has the capability to humiliate the concerned person defamed person or subject him to punishment in the society.