x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Three-year-old born in UAE has no legal status

The father of Leen Omar has insisted that only the courts in Jordan can enforce his daughter's rights

Leen Omar was born in Abu Dhabi in 2007 but has no legal status because her father has left the country. Andrew Henderson / The National
Leen Omar was born in Abu Dhabi in 2007 but has no legal status because her father has left the country. Andrew Henderson / The National

Abu Dhabi // The father of little Leen Omar - born in the UAE but with no legal status after her parents' divorce - has insisted that only the courts in Jordan can enforce his daughter's rights.

"I am Jordanian and my daughter is too," OM said in an e-mail to The National. "The only way for me to have a just rule of court would be in my country and not in the UAE, which is neither my home country nor the mother's.

"Only Jordanian law applies to me and my daughter. If the mother wants to have all her rights and my daughter's rights, it must be done in Jordan and not in the UAE."

The father's stance means the three-year-old girl remains in legal limbo, despite the intervention of the office of Princess Haya bint al Hussein, the wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The Princess's office stepped in to help the child to obtain identity documents after reading about the case in The National last October. They said yesterday: "We have since consulted with the Jordanian authorities regarding this specific case and have been informed that, as it stands at the moment, the situation is with them and that they are handling it to the best of their ability to ensure a positive outcome for all."

Leen was born in Abu Dhabi in February 2007 but cannot travel outside the country, receive state services or even be registered for nursery school because her father's presence is required for her to obtain a passport. OM, a Jordanian-Palestinian, left the country after divorcing the child's mother, a Syrian-Palestinian, in August 2006.

The mother cannot apply for a passport for her child because she does not have a Syrian passport, only immigration documents for Palestinian refugees issued by the Syrian government.

She said yesterday she was sceptical about a foreign judiciary giving her fair treatment, and in any case she would not travel without her daughter.

"If Leen's father does not trust the UAE judiciary, why should I trust the Jordanian judiciary?" she said. "The issue is not with Abu Dhabi courts, it is with him leaving his own flesh and blood suffering without proper documents."

She said she would not take legal action in Jordan because she did not know anyone there, was not familiar with the legal system and was afraid she would have to stay there alone without a job.

"I am not convinced I will get my child's rights in his country," she said. "I will stay here because Abu Dhabi courts are fair and just."

The Abu Dhabi Court of First Instance and the Court of Appeal have already ruled that OM must provide financial support for the child and her mother, not abandon them, register Leen as his daughter and obtain all necessary immigration documents, including a passport for his daughter. A travel ban was imposed on him until he complied with the ruling.

OM, who initially denied that Leen was his daughter until DNA tests confirmed paternity, claimed he had been forced to leave the country because of seven arrest warrants issued against him, which he described as "unjustified".

He also claimed the travel ban had been lifted after he paid Dh95,000 to rent a house for his ex-wife and child, and Dh18,000 for furniture, thus complying with the legal ruling. There is no court record of the travel ban having been lifted.

"I am not that kind of parent who would let his kids live the way of life you were told that my daughter Leen is living. I do have other children who are living a respectful life and need nothing else in life," he said.

OM said he had obtained a birth certificate for his daughter and included her as a member of his family in Jordanian documents, but the mother had been "disrespectful" to the Jordanian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. The embassy could not be reached for a comment.

The father said he had tried his best to avoid divorce, but it "came to be the only solution".