Dubai’s drug laws & Cat Le-Huy
Something I drew attention to back in November was Dubai’s tough anti-drug laws.
It’s surfaced again because there’s a web campaign under way for the release of German citizen and UK resident Cat Le-Huy, who was detained under the laws. The campaign says that he is not guilty and was falsely imprisoned, the medication he was carrying was not banned and the ‘marijuana’ he was accused of carrying was in fact specks of dirt. Several bloggers have joined in, while the main site pushing the issue seems to be thetruthaboutdubai.com.
According to these sites, Le-Huy was detained on suspicion that the (legal) Melatonin bottle found in his bag contained other pills. They say that tests conducted by the authorities indicated that the bottle did not contain any other substances and the Melatonin was cleared, that Le-Huy’s urine sample also tested negative for any drug use that the German Embassy expected that Le-Huy would be released at this time, but authorities have called on an option to extend his detainment in order to investigate the specks of dirt that they found.
Because I have no way of telling the truth of Le-Huy’s case I won’t comment on it. Except to say that if he is indeed innocent then he should be released immediately with at the very least a fulsome apology and some sort of compensation.
I must point out though that there are some tabloid-style hysterics on the site though that are misleading for travellers in general, and that’s dangerous.
They also make ridiculous demands of the tourism authority.
I’ll go into both later.
The main point this issue raises, as I did back in November, is that as travellers the onus is on us to make ourselves aware of laws that may affect us – wherever we’re going. That applies in particular to people such as myself who have to take medication with them.
What about Japan? Did you know, for example, that codeine is illegal in Japan? So are any medications containing stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine – which means that many OTC cold-cures and anti-histamines are illegal. Prescription medications are restricted to a one-month supply, larger amounts may be seized, and you could be charged with intent to sell illegal substances.
Tourist-friendly countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia have the death penalty for drug trafficking. Westerners, among others, have been executed and many others are serving very long jail sentences.
It’s naive in the extreme to assume that every country has laws the same as your own. Believing that could land you in big, big trouble in many countries around the world.
In one of my earlier postings I pointed out that: “A Canadian brought in a tiny amount of marijuana, 0.66 grams for personal use.He fired his layer, pleaded guilty and asked the court for a ‘fast verdict’, saying he would pay a fine and leave.
He has been sentenced to four years in jail followed by deportation.”
The lesson is simple. Whether you’re visiting Dubai or anywhere else, make sure you know the rules!
The inaccurate, misleading ‘information’ on the website damages the credibility of their campaign to protest Le-Huy’s innocence. His interests would be better served if they stuck with the truth because in any context using inaccurate information throws doubts on the accuracy of anything else that’s said.
The writer says that the Dubai tourist board campaign “provide a false image in regards to Dubai’s safety for Western travelers due to its hidden policies…the government-created DTMC website, which advertises itself as an all-in-one tourist resource, fails to mention any of the new, strict laws that ensnare Western travelers in Dubai’s prisons daily.”
* Travellers, western or otherwise, are not jailed on a daily basis as the writer outrageously claims.
* The drug laws are not new, they’ve been in place for over two years.
* These are not hidden policies, they are the published laws of the land and are there for anyone who cares to look.
* Dubai’s safety for tourists is not a false image. It is one of the world’s safest cities which 7 million tourists visited last year. A tiny, tiny fraction ran into trouble with the law.
What’s a tourist authority for?
And I must comment on the ridiculous demand that a tourism authority’s advertising should ‘mention any of the strict laws’ of the country.
All tourist boards have responsibility for only one thing – to attract tourists. They do not, any of them, list laws that tourists may fall foul of. Nor should they be expected to. They do not warn tourists of the dangers they may face, and it’s ridiculous to think they should.
Would you expect the South African tourist authority to warn in its advertising that it’s known as the world crime capital?
I don’t see neworleansonline.com telling tourists that their fair city is the murder capital of America, and I wouldn’t expect it to.
I also don’t like the racist implication on the website that: “The website, http://www.thetruthaboutdubai.com, will highlight cases of detainment and imprisonment of Western tourists. “
Why specifically ‘western’ tourists?
They also say that: “The Committee seeks to educate travelers about the dangers of traveling to Dubai and hopes to work with Dubai officials to make the new laws more widely-publicized to prevent such unfortunate situations from occurring in the future, and to secure the deportation of current prisoners who fell victim to these under-publicized laws.”
If you take a few seconds to google ‘dubai drug laws’ you’ll get over 11,000 pages of information and ‘dubai banned drugs’ gets you over 1,500 pages.
So, to sum up:
If Cat Le-Huy is innocent, he should not be in jail.
Inaccurate information on the website is not helping anybody.
Don’t expect tourism authorities to list the laws of their country.
Check the laws regarding medicines in any country you plan to visit. You are responsible for this, no-one else is.
The information is already out there, all you have to do is look.