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Tuesday, 18 May 2021 11:48 GMT

Juvenile crimes drop in Abu Dhabi after child rights law


(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) There has been a significant decrease in juvenile crimes and a rise in reports of child abuse in Abu Dhabi since the introduction of the Child Rights Law - popularly known as the Wadeema law - last year, according to judicial authorities.

The Abu Dhabi Family Prosecution said juvenile crimes constituted 36 per cent of the total cases they received in 2016, which was lower compared to the 43 per cent recorded in 2015.

Reports of children being abused rose from 4 per cent in 2015 to 9 per cent in 2016.

Authorities have attributed the positive change in the figures to the tougher punishments through the new law, increased awareness on child rights and the need by parents to take good care of children, through awareness campaigns and workshops.

During the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department's monthly meeting titled 'Towards a stable family and a safe child' recently, Alia Mohammed Al Kaabi, head of family and child prosecution, said that the introduction of the child rights law has contributed a lot to child protection efforts. This has resulted in more reports filed about children being abused and a decrease in juvenile crimes.

The new law was put into effect in June 2016, to protect children from abuse and neglect and support their right to safety, shelter, health care and education. Anyone who breaks the law faces a fine of up to Dh50,000, and up to 10 years in prison for physical/sexual abuse or criminal negligence of children. "The new legislation has helped in providing more protection to children," said Al Kaabi.

"Previously, there were no legal sections that allowed for criminalising and prosecuting certain behaviours such as neglect towards children, or laws that safeguarded the rights of children who had been physically abused by their parents."

She said more child abuse cases have been reported to the child affairs prosecution offices since the new law was introduced last year, and authorities have dealt with people mistreating children. "People who witness a child being abused and fail to report it are prosecuted under the new child rights law," said Al Kaabi.

"It is good that people seeing children being mistreated by their parents, guardians or other persons report them to authorities, for the protection of the abused child and also to avoid legal action on their part."

The official noted that the establishment of a child affairs prosecution in Abu Dhabi last year, which investigates and deals with cases involving children, has also led to the increase in people reporting parents or guardians abusing or mistreating children.

Three child prosecution offices have been established across Abu Dhabi.

According to authorities, the child affairs prosecution responsibilities include dealing with all forms of child abuse, whether physical assaults, verbal insults, emotional or mental and whether intentionally or due the neglect of their parents, caretakers or those in their surroundings.

Social workers are also available at the child prosecution offices to offer assistance and investigate cases that involve children.

The child affairs prosecution also holds children who have committed offences under the juvenile law accountable. Previously, such cases were dealt with by the family prosecution court.

KT Nano Edit Speak up!

Crimes against children are unpardonable offences. The criminal justice system has taken cognizance of cases of sexual assault and abuse against children by framing tougher laws. Offenders will face its full force, the primary reason why cases have fallen. We are all responsible for protecting children. Don't remain silent when you suspect something is amiss with your child, any child. Speak up.

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