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Child Protection Law in the United Arab Emirates

Date Added: January 03, 2016 11:38:42 AM
Author: Hassan Elhais
Category: Society: Law: Legal Information

The Community Development Authority (CDA) of Dubai has recently drafted a new child protection policy, which protects children, investigates abuses against their rights, and provides government services to families and children believed to be in danger.

This new policy seeks to protect not only children residing in the Emirate, but even children just passing through. Currently, there is no federal law addressing child abuse and neglect, nor is there a process for intervention if the child is abused by a family member.

Sharjah was the first emirate to address child abuse, but Dubai is quickly following suit. The CDA seeks to implement a law in all the emirates. The CDA set out multiple goals in getting the policy to become federal law. They are seeking to promote awareness of childrens’ rights, prevent the mistreatment of children, and develop a comprehensive and integrated system that deals with cases of abuse, neglect, and/or exploitation. However many challenges stand in their way, including the ability to market and inform the masses. It is difficult to reconcile the different ideas about parenting in such a multicultural environment, and for that same reason it is difficult to implement the policy across so many languages, cultures, and families. Moreover, many cases of child abuse go unreported; therefore, the lack of data makes it hard to develop a wide-ranging policy.

In 2008 a federal child protection law was drafted, but never enacted; this will serve as the framework for a new child protection system. Currently Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai is rushing to draft and pass a federal child protection law as a result of a case that shocked the nation. It was recently reported that a father is suspected of killing his 8 year old daughter and torturing her younger sister. The Sheikh visited the younger daughter in the hospital, realizing this situation highlighted the current law’s inadequacies. The new child protection law will be tailored to children instead of the current general penalty code, under which killing a child is no different than killing an adult. A second proposal is also currently being drafted, which seeks to cover child pornography and criminal penalties for the mistreatment of children. The federal law could seek to merge both proposals.

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