Leaving children alone and unattended inside vehicles while shopping or for any other reason is a penal offence, according to the UAE law.
Ashish Mehta, founder and managing partner of Ashish Mehta and Associates, explained that when it comes to such incidents, an individual can be fined or jailed for negligence.
The lawyer's reminder comes as the tragic death of a three-year-old left in a minibus shook the community on Wednesday.
“In the UAE, it is the responsibility of the custodian/supervisors of the child to take care of him/her,” said Mehta.
When children are travelling in a school bus, the driver and the school management may be considered ‘supervisors’ during the travel time and until the child is handed to the legal custodian or parents, he added.
“In the event of a child being neglected or exposed to danger, then the custodian/supervisor of the child is responsible. This is in accordance with Article 35 of the Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on Child rights (Wadeema’s Law or the Child Rights Law of the UAE).
“It shall be prohibited for the custodian to expose the child to rejection, homelessness or neglect, leaving him/her without supervision or follow-up, refraining from his/her guidance, not handling his/her affairs, not enrolling him/her at an educational institution or leaving him/her without education during the compulsory education stage without due reason,” the law states.
Article 33(2) of the law mentions that the child should not be exposed to ‘negligence, rejection and homelessness’.
Article 51(1) also states: “Taking into account the provisions of Article (33) (34), (35), (36), (37) and (38), every action or omission posing a threat to the child’s life, physical, psychological, mental or moral integrity or health in a way that cannot be avoided over time, shall be considered as significant harm or imminent danger.”
Fines and imprisonment
The law says that if the child is found to have been neglected and his life had been in danger, the guardian may be imprisoned or punished with a fine of not less than Dh5,000.
If the child dies because of the person’s negligence, he/she may be sentenced to imprisonment, including a hefty fine, Mehta said. “This is in accordance with Article 342 of the Federal Law No. 3 of 1987 concerning Penal Code which states, ‘Shall be sentenced to detention and/or to fine, whoever caused by his own mistake the death of a person.’”
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