'Suicide attempt' charges dropped against Irish flight attendant in Dubai

'Suicide attempt' charges dropped against Irish flight attendant in Dubai
Irish citizen Tori Towey was initially charged with "suicide attempt" and "alcohol consumption", despite legal reforms decriminalising such actions in the UAE.
3 min read
11 July, 2024
The Irish national had been working in Dubai as a Emirates Airlines flight attendant for over a year [Getty/file photo]

Police in the United Arab Emirates have reportedly dropped criminal charges against a Dubai-based Irish flight attendant for allegedly attempting to take her own life.

Tori Towey, 28, was facing charges in June of "attempted suicide" and "alcohol consumption", and had her passport destroyed by police, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The charges were made after Towey filed a domestic abuse report against her husband.

On Wednesday, the Government of Dubai’s media office said: "Dubai Public Prosecution has closed the case involving Irish national Tori Towey after she and her husband, a South African national, were involved in a case featuring mutual charges of assault, dating back to May 2024," as cited by US website Time.

"The couple reached a reconciliation and withdrew the complaints filed against each other. Dubai Public Prosecution has also dropped the charges of attempted suicide against her considering the circumstances of the case and to enable her to return to normal life."

Towey's case was initially raised by Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on Tuesday, stating that a travel ban was imposed on her. On Wednesday, Irish Taoiseach Sam Harris confirmed that the travel ban was lifted and that he felt "increasingly positive" about her situation following a phone call, according to the BBC.

Following the news, Detained in Dubai advocacy group CEO Radha Stirling said Towey and her mother were "over the moon" at the charges being dropped.

The details of Towey’s alleged suicide attempt remain unclear, however suicide attempts have historically been outlawed in the UAE. Although survivors were rarely prosecuted, legal loopholes left victims vulnerable to potential criminal charges.

In 2020, legal reforms decriminalised suicide and attempted suicide, according to The National.

However, Article 335 from the UAE’s Ministry of Justice states that "whoever attempts suicide shall be subject to the punishments of incarceration for no more than six months or a fine of no more than 5,000 AED ($1,361), or both of the two punishment", raising questions over whether the laws remain in place.

As part of the reforms, penalties for alcohol consumption, sales or possession for those aged 21 and over were also scrapped.

Harris said Ireland's embassy will continue to follow up with Towey’s case, as it remains active. 

The Irish premier also slammed the treatment Towey received in Dubai, saying it was "utterly, utterly unacceptable", adding that the flight attendant "found herself waking up not in a hospital, but in a police station".

Towey, and her mother are expected arrive in Ireland later on Thursday, her aunt told BBC Radio Foyle’s North West Today programme on Wednesday.

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