There are no HIV-specific criminal laws in the United Arab Emirates, however general provisions within the federal Criminal Code have been used to criminalise those living with HIV.
Article 348 of the Criminal Code carries a penalty of imprisonment for anyone who commits an act that “exposes the life, health, security or freedom of human beings to danger”. While this provision does not explicitly mention HIV, the cases below relied on perceived ‘exposure’ to HIV to criminalise people living with HIV under this provision.
Additionally, there are other general provisions within the Criminal Code which could be of relevance. For instance, Article 339 imposes a penalty of imprisonment and a fine for an “assault” on the “bodily safety of others” resulting in illness or a disability.
Similarly, Article 343 imposes a penalty of up to one year’s imprisonment and/or a fine for anyone who transgresses the bodily safety of others, increased to up to two years and/or a fine where this results in “permanent disability”.
While the application of Article 339 and 343 to HIV-related criminal cases is not clear, it appears that Article 348 has been used against people living with HIV.
In 2014 it was reported that a prisoner who was living with HIV had received an additional prison sentence of six months for “endangering the lives of 40 prisoners” (sic) after he was accused of attempting to mix his blood in a kettle filled with tea, and of threatening to spread his blood over food and the floor.
In 2016 a woman who was living with HIV was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and a fine for “endangering the lives of two men” after she allegedly had sex with them in a hotel room without disclosing her status. The woman denied intending to pass on HIV as well having sex with them, and both men tested negative for HIV. Nevertheless, she and the two men were convicted of having an illegal affair despite their denials.
Federal LAW No. 3 / 1987 - Penal Code
CHAPTER THREE EXPOSURE TO DANGER
Article 348 – Shall be sentenced to detention and/or to a fine, whoever deliberately perpetrates an act that exposes the life, health, security or freedom of human beings to danger. Without prejudice to a prejudice any more severe penalty prescribed by law, the penalty shall be detention in case the act results in a prejudice of any kind.
Article 339 – Shall be sentenced to detention and to fine, whoever assaults by any means the body safety of others and the assault resulted in his illness or disability to attend to his personal business for a period exceeding twenty days. The penalty shall be detention for a term not exceeding one year and to a fine not in excess of ten thousands Dirham, if the assault did not reach the degree of seriousness mentioned in the above paragraph. In case the assault is perpetrated on a pregnant woman resulting in abortion, this shall be considered an aggravating circumstance.
Article 343 – Shall be detention for a term not exceeding one year and/ or to a fine not in excess of ten thousands dirham, whoever transgress through his fault the body safety of orders. the penalty shall be detention for a term not exceeding two years and/ or a fine, should the crime result in a permanent disability or if the crime is committed, as a result of failure from the offender›s part to observe the ethics of his employment, profession or craft or if the offender is under the influence of intoxication or stupefaction when the incident occurred, or if he abstains from assisting the victim or call for help through able to do so. The penalty shall be detention and a fine if the crime transgresses the safety of more than three Persons. Should any of the circumstances mentioned in the preceding paragraph be present, the penalty shall be detention for a minimum term of six months but not exceeding five years and a fine.