Constitutional Provisions

The 1971 Constitution of the United Arab Emirates (as amended through 2004) does not guarantee the right to life but it is specified that: "No man shall be subjected to torture or other indignity." 

Under Article 33, the freedom of assembly and the freedom to hold meetings shall be guaranteed within the limits of the law.

The Constitution does not directly regulate the use of force by the police.

Treaty Adherence

Global Treaties

Adherence to Selected Human Rights Treaties
1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Not party
ICCPR Optional Protocol 1 Not party
1984 Convention against Torture (CAT) State Party
Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints No
CAT Optional Protocol 1 Not party
Adherence to International Criminal Law Treaties

1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court


Regional Treaties

Adherence to Regional Human Rights Treaties
2004 Arab Charter of Human Rights State Party

National Legislation

Police Use of Force

Each emirate maintains a local police force, which is officially a branch of the federal Ministry of Interior. The Dubai Police is claimed to be "the most forward thinking and progressive Arab police force today". 

Federal Act No. 12 of 1976, concerning the Police and Security Force, as amended by Act No. 6 of 1986 governs the rules on use of force. Article 8 of the 1976 law provides that "In the exercise of the duties assigned to them, the affiliates to the Force may, whenever need so requires, use force within the limits required to discharge these duties."

With respect to the use of firearms, Article 9 of the 1976 Act provides as follows:

Affiliates to the force are entitled to carry the weapons delivered to them on account of their functions, and they may use it only in the following instances:

a- Lawful self-defense of one’s own person, honor or property or the defense of the person, honor or property of others.

b- Arrest of any person against whom an order of arrest has been issued, should he resist or attempt to escape.

c- Apprehension of any person whose arrest is within their competence, should he resist or attempt to escape.

d- Disperse any unlawful gathering having as an objective the perpetration of a crime or endangering security or order, in case the members of this gathering do not acquiesce after they have been warned to do so by all possible means; provided the order to fire has been given by an authorized body.

In all the above instances, the use of the weapon must be necessary and in proportion with the imminent danger, that it is the only means to parry it after ascertaining its presence and that it aims at neutralizing the person against whom the weapon is pointed from aggressing or resisting. This must be preceded by a warning shot, whenever possible, then followed by a non fatal shot unless it is justifiably feared that this danger shall lead to death or serious injury.

This is significantly more permissive than international law.  It is not known if internal regulations governing police use of force and firearms are compliant with international law and standards. 

Police Oversight

There is no independent civilian police oversight body at federal level.

In 2017, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized a regional training workshop in Abu Dhabi on the "Conduct of Law Enforcement Officials in Maintaining Order and Responding to Crime in the Middle East and North African (MENA) Countries".



In its national report for its 2018 Universal Periodic Review under the United Nations Human Rights Council, the UAE stated that: "Pursuant to Ministerial Decision No. 654 of 2005, a police code of conduct and ethics was issued for personnel of the Ministry of the Interior. A policy on the use of force in the Ministry of the Interior has also been adopted...."

The UAE has not yet come before the Committee against Torture although it submitted its national report in December 2018.


There is no regional court established under the 2004 Arab Charter of Human Rights.


1971 Constitution of the United Arab Emirates (as amended through 2004)

Federal Police Act of 1976

UAE Report to the Committee against Torture (2018) (Arab original)

UAE National Report for the UPR (2018)