UAE to speed child protection law after girl dies
Dubai, June 8, 2012
The UAE is speeding up the introduction of child protection laws, state news agency WAM said, after an eight-year-old girl was killed in a case that has shocked the nation.
The father of Wadeema Saud was arrested on suspicion of murder this week after the girl's remains were found in a village off a highway in Dubai. He is also suspected of torturing another daughter, seven-year-old Mira, who is in hospital.
The case sparked a public outcry in the Gulf state and drew attention to the UAE's lack of child protection laws.
Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum ordered the swift enactment of a child protection bill, which is in the drafting stage, after he visited Mira in hospital, agency WAM said on Wednesday.
'The ministry is working on speeding up the legislative process of issuing child protection law,' Mariam al-Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs, told WAM.
The drafting and debating of the bill was expected to take several more months before the president, Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, approved it to become law.
Now, however, that process will be speeded up - though no date was specified.
It is unclear what the law will involve but Dubai lawyer Yousef bin Hammad said he expected it would make penalties for violence against children more severe than for violence against adults.
'The new law would be tailored to children instead of the general penalty code which doesn't differentiate between the use of force against an adult or child,' he said.
Sheikh Mohammed told Mira's mother after the hospital visit that he would cover the costs of the girl's treatment, education and other living costs, his personal website said.
The case highlighted the inadequacy of child protection laws in the UAE, Emirati lawyer Diana Hamade said.
'Everyone was pretty shocked,' she said. 'The protection of children in the UAE is currently only covered by certain provisions found in the UAE's family and labour laws and penal code which are severely outdated.'-Reuters