A SA Bloke Is Being Detained Indefinitely In Dubai For Sharing A FB Post

Travelling is kind of a mine field at the best of times, and often the (for lack of a better term) arrogance of being a westerner means you’re not exactly clued in on the various local customs and laws of other countries.

But even with that in mind, this one is really something else.
An Adelaide humanitarian charity volunteer was arrested in the United Arab Emirates, and has been held in prison without charge for the past three weeks, for the apparent grave crime of sharing a Facebook post.
Scott Richards, who is based in Dubai with his family where he works as an economic development consultant, was arrested in late July under UAE laws that prevent the promotion of overseas charities.
Richards is also a volunteer for the US-based Zwan Family Charity, who helps provide impoverished and orphaned children in Afghanistan with vital medical education and treatment, such as vaccination programs, dental treatment, and disease prevention. They also distribute tarps and blankets to refugees struggling with the Afghani cold in Kabul-based refugee camps.
Richards, whilst in Dubai, shared a Facebook post that asked people in his friends list and news feed to help support the charity.
Thanks to a UAE law implemented in 2015, anyone who intends to raise money for charity whilst in the country, regardless of where that charity is based, needs prior approval from the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department.
Richards shared the post, and was arrested by UAE officials in late July, and he has since been held without charge in a Dubai prison with extremely limited contact from his wife allowed. Richards’ mother Penelope Haberfeld states that he has only been allowed to see his wife once a week, and is being held in extremely trying conditions.

“He himself is holding up well. It’s not nice. They only get 10 minutes of sunshine once a week.”

Richards also reportedly is only allowed to change clothes once every seven days, and has to buy water.

The detention, which is arbitrary, is not uncommon in the UAE, and could see Richards held for an indefinite period of time without charge or prosecution. Radha Stirling from advocacy group Detained in Dubai explains thusly:

“There are constantly expats falling foul of the law and also being victims of other people because it’s so easy in the UAE for an individual to take out a police complaint against someone.”

“There are so many laws, it’s so different, yet so many expats, but UAE doesn’t make any effort to inform expats.”

“In a case like this where it’s so obviously unjust we are hoping for diplomatic intervention which the Australian Government has done in the past.”

The Australian Consulate in the UAE is aware of Richards’ case, and is in contact with the UK Embassy who is handling the case due to Richards’ status as a dual-national.

It’s currently unknown how far along efforts to free Richards are progressing.
Source: ABC News.