Fujairah Collage

Fujairah Collage
Some distinctive landmarks in Fujairah

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alicia Gali Rape Case Puts Fujairah Back in the Australian News

The next stage in the legal proceedings today by Alicia Gali has put ‘Fujairah’ front and centre in the Australian news.

The Brisbane woman, who worked as a salon manager at Fujairah’s Le Méridien Resort, was jailed for adultery in June 2008 after she reported to the UAE police that she had been drugged and raped by three or four male co-workers at Le Méridien.

Gali v Le Méridien

Ms Gali and her legal team have already been given the go-ahead to pursue legal action against the resort for failure of the company to protect her against assault and the legal consequences of reporting a rape case to the UAE police.

Gali v Commonwealth of Australia

Today’s step (7 June 2011) involved another pre-court procedure in which Gali’s team filed a claim in the Brisbane Supreme Court. Leave was sought to sue the Australian Government for an oversight by an Australian consular official to adequately inform Gali of the local laws that apply in the UAE. According to reports, the consular official told Gali about the drug laws but not the assault laws in the UAE.

Gali’s lawyer, Michelle James, was successful today in being granted leave to sue the Australian Government over Gali’s ordeal. Afterwards Ms James told a media conference in Brisbane that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) had failed in its obligations to Ms Gali which directly led to her being jailed.

“She should have been told, as a bare minimum, of the local laws that apply in the UAE,” Ms James said.

“In the UAE rape is not a crime unless it is witnessed by four adult male Muslim witnesses. Alicia wasn't told this. She certainly wasn't told that if she reported the brutal rape to the police that she ran the risk of being jailed for 12 months.”

The lawyer said DFAT information read by Ms Gali before she left for Dubai provided no warning of the consequences of reporting a sexual assault.

Government Responsibility

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out and what the court determines regarding the alleged failure of the Australian Government to inform Ms Gali of UAE laws.

How responsible is a government for briefing its citizens who travel to different countries? Is the familiarization with the laws of a land as much the responsibility of the person as the making of the decision to travel?

The Australian department currently provides information and ‘travel advice’ on almost 240 countries and the statements on the UAE appear both comprehensive and up-to-date (This information may have been different in 2008).

If in the detailed information provided on the UAE about terrorist threats, local travel laws, extreme temperatures, passports, drugs, rape, homosexuality, preaching, rude gestures and Ramadan rules, there is an omission to state that reporting a complaint of rape could lead to a charge of adultery and imprisonment, is the government guilty of giving deficient information and failing to adequately inform one of its citizens?

Will the Australian Government be spared from a 'Guilty' verdict because it includes in its travel advice such statements as these?

“When you are in the UAE be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you.

You should familiarise yourself with local laws before you travel.”

The Case Continues

All these questions about the culpability of the government, the employer and the individual will eventually be thrashed out in the courts of law. Hopefully the resolution will enable Ms Gali to heal and move on with her life.

The highlighting of this case by the Australia and international media will undoubtedly lead to further allegations of harsh treatment by the UAE justice system toward people who have been raped. The discussion and the verdict about who is responsible for preparing people to visit different countries will hopefully benefit travelers and consulates around the world.

Links

‘She Wasn’t Warned’, Brisbane Times, 7 June 2011 and parallel reports in Melbourne Age, Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, ABC.

Geoff Pound

This article is also posted on the Fujairah in Focus—Facebook Page.

Image: Alicia Gali (Photo courtesy of The Sunday Mail, Queensland)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the UAE rape is not a crime unless it is witnessed by four adult male Muslim witnesses.

This is ridiculous! Is it really so in the UAE?

Geoff Pound said...

This practice is being re-examined in other countries:
http://www.muslimaccess.com/articles/Women/rape_zina_in_islam.asp

Balqis De Cesare said...

Rape in Islam is a crime and is different than zina but as I understand in her case it was not recognised as thus
If she was jailed, that means it was just sex outside marriage
And she says she believes the men were punished, so where there the 4 testimonies ?

Anonymous said...

I don't understand. If there were four males witnessing rape, shouldn't they have just prevented the rape?