Defending theHuman Rightto a Fair Trial
February 7, 2008
Charity issues urgent warning to all travellers to United Arab Emirates after Briton imprisoned for 4 years for 0.003g cannabis caught in the tread of his shoe. Poppy seeds in food, common over-the-counter medications and traces of banned substances are enough to attract 4 year prison sentences after a clampdown by UAE authorities.
The legal charity which assists those facing trial abroad has issued an urgent warning to all travellers to or through Dubai and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) generally to ensure they are completely free of any substances prohibited by that country.
The warning comes after Fair Trials International learnt this week that one of its clients, 43-year-old Middlesex man Keith Andrew Brown, has been sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment after 0.003g of cannabis was found in the tread of his shoe by customs officials in Dubai during transit from Ethiopia to London last September. This amount would not be visible to the naked eye, and weighs less than a single grain of sugar.
“We have seen a steep increase in such cases over the last 18 months. Customs authorities are using highly sensitive new equipment to conduct extremely thorough searches on travellers and if they find any amount – no matter how minute – it will be enough to attract a mandatory 4 year prison sentence,” said Fair Trials International Chief Executive Catherine Wolthuizen.
“Moreover, the list of banned substances in UAE includes many medications available over-the-counter in other countries, such as codeine – a common ingredient in pain relief and cold-and-flu medication, as well as poppy seeds – a common baking ingredient.
“What many travellers may not realise is that they can be deemed to be in possession of such banned substances if they can be detected in their urine or bloodstream, or even in tiny, trace amounts on their person. We even have reports of the imprisonment of a Swiss man for ‘possession’ of 3 poppy seeds on his clothing after he ate a bread roll at Heathrow.
“With UAE becoming one of the most popular tourist and transit destinations in the world – in part due to extensive marketing of its beaches and shops – travellers need to know the risks they face if they are not completely clean of any banned substance or do not have a prescription for any medication they are carrying.
“For this reason, we have today published a comprehensive list of banned pharmaceuticals on our website and urge travellers to check any medication they may be carrying, and ensure their clothing is completely free of any banned substance before they fly,” concluded Ms Wolthuizen.
For a more comprehensive list of banned substances in the UAE, please click here
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Fair Trials Europe is a registered public foundation in Belgium (No. 552688677).
Fair Trials Europe was founded by Fair Trials International
(a registered charity with limited liability in England and Wales, Nos 1134586 and 7135273),
together they form Fair Trials.