No jobs with children for child abuse, pornography offenders, says new law

Law asks federal and local authorities to set up procedures for child safety in public, entertainment and public spaces.

M L Augustine, managing director of the School Transport Services, Dubai’s largest school bus operator, said the company conducts background checks before hiring staff. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // People convicted of sexual assault or child pornography cannot be employed in jobs that place them in contact with children or involved in any activity involving kids up to the age of 18 years, as part of wide-ranging child protection measures detailed in Wadeema’s Law.

In a detailed Child Protection Measures section, federal authorities and local authorities have been asked to set “necessary controls and procedures in relation to child safety in public and entertainment spaces as well as public transport.”

As a consequence of the law effective from June, employers will need to conduct thorough background checks on staff, legal experts said.

The Ministry of Social Affairs will keep a confidential register of people involved in child mistreatment cases that can only be accessed with consent from the court or public prosecutors.

As a consequence of the new law, employers need to conduct thorough background checks on their staff, according to legal experts.

“They will be liable and will have the liability of a higher sentence if they do not report any offence against children,” said Hassan Elhais, a lawyer at Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultancy. He urged companies to hold regular educational and awareness sessions for employees.

“A good record is a good sign but it does not mean that the person will not commit a crime. They will need to check backgrounds of their members, monitor and watch them doing the work. The real guarantee for any corporate would be by watching their members, teaching them how to deal with children and educating them in case there is any breach of the Child Protection Law.”

Relatives, caregivers, health workers, teachers or officials who do not offer assistance to a child and fail to notify authorities about child abuse cases can be fined up to Dh50,000.

The law also states that a person convicted of child sexual assault may not live within a five-kilometre radius of the victim’s residence.

A person convicted of sexual assault against a child can only be released after a psychological test ascertains they are not a social risk.

If safety cannot be guaranteed, the law asks the court to order their placement in an asylum after they complete their sentence, said Jassim Al Hosni, the first judge of appeal in Dubai Courts.


Read more on the UAE’s Child Protection Law:

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10 years in jail and up to Dh1m in fines for care givers in UAE found with child pornography


School bus companies welcomed the new law. “This sort of stringent law is very important when we look at staff members who manage a large number of students,” said M L Augustine, managing director of the School Transport Services, Dubai’s largest operator of school buses, which serves about 45,000 pupils.

The company conducts background checks on job applicants by contacting their former employers and the police in their home country.

The Roads and Transport Authority or the Department of Transport then initiates a criminal background check before issuing a school bus driving license.

“Once we register the person’s information with the RTA or DOT, it takes a month to get approval for anyone involved in school transport whether a bus driver or attendant.

Only then can the person be provided training or given a license for a school bus. We welcome strict checks to ensure the safety of children.”

Clear definitions of abuse, what constitutes child pornography and a child’s rights will aid the judiciary to resolve cases.

“By contemplating these definitions, we notice their key role in helping the judge as they delimit every term for a sound implementation of the law,” Judge Al Hosni said.

Among the main objectives outlined by the law for federal and local governments to achieve is to safeguarding a child’s interests by protecting his right to live and develop safely away from neglect, abuse, maltreatment or physical and psychological violence.

“By contemplating these objectives, we notice that the law seeks to create an environment where the child’s interests are prioritised in protecting the future of the family and community as the responsibility of a child falls upon individuals and governments alike,” he said.