x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Ministry to add tougher penalties for abuse

The Ministry of Interior will add tougher criminal penalties for child abuse and neglect to a law on child rights.

The Ministry of Interior will add tougher criminal penalties for child abuse and neglect to a law on child rights.

The Ministry of Social Affairs has completed its final review of the draft, it announced last week.

A copy of the legislation could not be obtained.

But an earlier Ministry of Social Affairs draft, submitted to the Cabinet last year, combined provisions from local laws related to children with elements of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by the UAE in 1997.

The draft described several situations which trigger a child's "right to protection".

They include: where the child is regularly abused or sexually abused; neglected or homeless; subjected to "clear and ongoing lack of nurturing and care"; or if the parents are incapable of providing "adequate care and upbringing".

The draft also prohibited regularly leaving a child without supervision, subjecting a child to "torture or repeated assaults", or failing to feed a child.

It made reporting cases of abuse compulsory for doctors, social workers or "others who are entrusted with child care". People reporting cases would receive anonymity.

The draft designated child-protection workers in each emirate and gave them the power to enter homes to collect evidence and "take the necessary preventive measures for the child's sake".

If a child's safety was threatened irreversibly, the draft allowed the worker to move them immediately to a safe place, obtaining a court order within 24 hours.

The Ministry of Interior's higher committee for child protection had also prepared a draft law including child pornography and criminal penalties for child abuse.

vnereim@thenational.ae