A 23-year-old Emirates flight attendant could be forced to remain in Dubai even if she is cleared of drug supply charges, her lawyer and a British charity that is working on the case have warned. Derrin Crawford of Liverpool, England has been held by the Dubai Police since late June when she was arrested on suspicion of possession of illegal narcotics with intent to supply after two Cannabis joints were found in the apartment of an acquaintance she had just met.
Crawford had visited the apartment of a fellow Brit who she had been speaking to on a dating app for around a week. She was in the apartment when the police conducted a surprise raid and found two Cannabis joints and a number of unspecified pills (some common over the counter medicines are illegal in the United Arab Emirates).
The flight attendant claims to have had no idea that any drugs were in the apartment but was arrested on serious narcotics charges. A drug test conducted by police returned a negative result but Derrin remains in custody while Dubai’s Public Prosecution Service determines whether to press ahead with the case.
After two weeks in what has been described as a crowded police station jail, Derrin’s health is said to have deteriorated and campaigners have expressed “grave concern” about her health and safety.
“What is happening right now to Derrin Crawford should alarm any foreigner in or intending to visit the UAE,” warned Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai, the charity helping to support Derrin and her family who remain in the UK.
“She is the latest in a very long list of foreign nationals who have found themselves behind bars in Dubai, not due to anything they did wrong, but due to the systemic flaws in the UAE’s criminal justice system,” Stirling commented about the case. “In no jurisdiction anywhere in the world would Derrin face these charges.”
Derrin has been told by prosecutors that she may be subjected to a second drug test and if this too shows no illegal substances in her bloodstream the case against her might be dropped. But that might not be the end of her detention in Dubai.
Detained in Dubai claims Derrin could still be held as a ‘witness’ if charges are brought against the man she was arrested with. Any subsequent trial could take years to hear during which time Derrin would potentially be banned from leaving the United Arab Emirates.
“Our fear is that she will be forced to endure months, if not years or wrongful imprisonment,” Stirling continued while calling for intervention from the British government in the case.
Under Dubai’s penal code, if convicted of drugs possession, Derrin faces 10-years imprisonment. The more serious crime of possession with intent to supply carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.