Abu Dhabi: The country’s first Child Rights law was passed by the Federal National Council for the second time on Tuesday.
The law, initially called Wudeema’s Law in memory of the eight-year-old girl who was starved and tortured to death by her father and his girlfriend, will now be known as Child Rights Law, after members of the House voted by a large majority to change the name.
When the little girl’s ordeal came to light in 2012, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, ordered policy-makers to speed up work to complete the legislation, which was then at the draft stage.
The draft law was returned to the FNC with reservations from President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan on wording of an article of the law.
The wording of article 20 of the draft law, which creates a nationwide system to protect children from mistreatment, was edited and the draft was returned to the council for approval.
The committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs, led by Mohammad Ahmad Al Yamahi, agreed to the changes and submitted the bill to the council.
The draft law requires to be signed into a law by Shaikh Khalifa and be published in the Official Gazette, before it is enforced three months later.
The law would apply to all children up to 18 years, regardless of nationality and religion.
The draft law provides for children’s right to security, to freedom from inhuman, cruel, or degrading treatment and the right to special protection during childhood. It also states a child’s right to life, the right to a name, the right to express their views freely, the right to health care, the right to protection from economic and sexual exploitation, and the right to education.
Under the legislation, children have the right to protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination. It also provides for economic, social and cultural rights, related to the conditions necessary to meet basic human needs such as food, shelter, education and health care.
The bill allows childcare specialists to remove children from their homes against parents’ wishes and without judicial permission in cases of imminent danger.
After the child is removed from the home, the childcare specialist must obtain permission from the court within 24 hours.
In less severe cases, specialists may intervene by visiting regularly, providing social services and mediating a solution between the family and the child.
If the family refuses the solution or does not respond within 14 days, the case will then be referred to higher authorities.
Those who obstruct the work of a childcare specialist are subject to a fine between Dh5,000 and Dh50,000.