even carrying actifed cold relief tablets could lead to a jail term.
Charity issues urgent warning to all travellers to UAE after Briton is imprisoned for 4 years
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 enough to attract 4 year prison sentence after clampdown
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 comment, contact Catherine Wolthuizen on 07846 472 923 or 020 7762 6400
For the list of banned pharmaceuticals, please click here
Some recent cases handled by Fair Trials International:
Keith Andrew Brown
43 years old from Middlesex. Arrested on 17 September 2007 at Dubai airport, enroute to London from Ethiopia. He and his wife were stopped and searched at the airport and nothing was found. Then the stub of a roll-up cigarette was seen on the sole of his shoe. He was charged with possession of 0.003g of cannabis and was this month sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment. He is waiting for an opportunity to seek clemency.
Robert Dalton, 25 from Kent
Robert travelled to Dubai on 13 November 2007 for a holiday after finishing his economics degree. He was stopped and searched at the airport and arrested after Customs officers alleged they found 0.03g of cannabis in his pockets. He is currently on trial and if convicted, will mostly likely receive a 4 year prison sentence.
20-year old man from West Yorkshire
Arrested at Dubai airport on 16 January 2008 while travelling back to the UK from Pakistan. Currently standing trial in Dubai after Customs officers alleged they found 0.02g cannabis in his pocket.
London man, in his 40s
Arrested on 7 May 2007 at Dubai airport on his honeymoon. Customs officials found 2g of cannabis in the pocket of a pair of shorts in his suitcase. He had forgotten it was there. He was sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment but was granted amnesty in Ramadan and released in October 2007.
33 year-old London man
Was arrested at Dubai airport on 14 May 2007 after travelling to UAE on business. Customs officials found 2g of cannabis in his pocket. He had forgotten it was there. He was sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment, but granted clemency and released in October 2007.
Tracy Wilkinson, 45 of West Sussex
Arrested at Dubai airport in 2005 for possession of codeine, a common pain relief medication, which she had been using to ease chronic back pain. She was held in custody for 8 weeks before officials accepted proof from her doctor of its use for prescribed medical purposes only.
Other reported cases
A Swiss national currently serving 4 years after 3 poppy seeds were found on his clothes by customs officials at Dubai airport. He had bought and eaten a bread roll at Heathrow before flying to UAE.
19 French nationals have been arrested in the past 18 months for possession of banned substances.
In June 2007, a 24 year-old Italian man was sentenced to 4 years' imprisonment after 0.01g of cannabis was found in his jacket pocket.
List of controlled pharmaceutical substances in UAE
February 07 2008 **STOP PRESS: Fair Trials International has located a second list of controlled substances .
Once you are at the site of the Ministry of Health of UAE, please click on the drop-down "Go to" menu in the top right-hand corner of the page and then on "Approved Drugs List"**
UAE has a very strict, zero-tolerance anti-drugs policy. If you can get by without medication, it is safest to leave it at home if you are travelling to or through UAE.
While many other countries also apply controls to the following drugs, UAE is unusual in conducting extremely thorough searches of many travellers through its airports, with highly sensitive equipment.
If you must take medication, make sure:
1. It is not on the banned 'Narcotics' list;
2. You have a prescription for it – even if you bought it over-the-counter.
• UAE has identified a group of drugs with the potential to lead to addiction if not controlled. These are listed in Schedules to the Federal Law No 14 of 1995, and the medicines which come under this classification are divided into the following categories.
• How a drug will be treated, and the penalties for possession will depend on its classification.
• In certain cases, UAE will take a stricter view of a drug than other countries might do. In some cases, such as antidepressants, this is because the UAE authorities have deemed it to be an addiction risk and have classified the drug as a narcotic, where other countries might treat it as a psychotropic. In others, UAE will impose controls on a drug because of its purpose, as in the case of drugs which can be used to bring about an abortion.
• These are Controlled substances under Schedules 1-6 of the UAE Federal Law 14 of 1995.
• They may not be imported into UAE. Possession of these drugs, with or without a prescription, may lead to a prison sentence.
• In addition to the medications listed below, this category includes cannabis, cocaine and opiates, from heroin to poppy seeds (the kind used in everyday baking).
Controlled Drugs Class A - Psychotropics
• These are drugs for which a prescription must be held. The more verifying paperwork from the authorising doctor which can accompany any drug in this category, the better. In UAE, they can only be dispensed upon production of a registered (health authority-approved) prescription.
• They include some common sleeping tablets, painkillers, anti-depressants and hormone replacement therapy
Controlled Drugs Class B – Controlled medicines
• Possession of these drugs must be accompanied by a prescription. Many of these drugs are available over-the-counter in other countries and travellers to or through UAE should ensure they obtain a prescription before carrying any of these drugs to that country.
• They include many common cold and cough remedies
From the General Authority for Health Services Guide to the Management of Controlled Drugs in the Private Sector, March 2007
This is the most recent, comprehensive list of controlled pharmaceuticals we have been able to find. The UAE does not publicise this list on any of its diplomatic or ministerial websites. We have written to the UAE Ambassador and Customs Minister asking them to do so, so that travellers can be better prepared before flying to that country.
While every effort has been made to verify the contents of this list, where in doubt, we advise travellers to check their medication with the UAE consulate before travel.
Narcotic (Active ingredients)
Controlled Drug Class A - Psychotropics (Active ingredients)
Buprenorphine 200 (microgram tablets and 500 microgram injection)
Controlled Drug Class B (Active ingredients)
Propoxyphene (with paracetemol
Appendix 2 Common UAE controlled drugs (Trade names)
The following list shows some of the TRADE names of those controlled items that are registered as medicines in the UAE
Controlled Drugs Class A - Psychotropics
Controlled Drugs Class B
Flumed DM adult
St Joseph cough
Tussifin with codeine
Edited by taxexile, 2008-02-20 07:48:26.