UAE acts to protect abandoned kids

The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has issued a federal law protecting the rights of the children of unknown parents.

Law No. 1 of 2012 aims at organising the foster care of abandoned children or those of unknown parents in the country, including the setting up of care homes and laying down the responsibilities of foster families like providing health, psychological, social, recreational and educational care.

It stipulates that the Ministry of Social Affairs, in coordination with the Ministry of the Interior, would identify the foster families which meet the conditions as laid down by the law.

Maryam Al Roumi, Minister of Social Affairs, said on Tuesday that the law reflects the keenness of President Khalifa and the Federal Government under the leadership of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to protect the rights of such children, including their civil and personal freedom, and protection of their lives, personal security and interests. The statute also aims at protecting those children from abuse, inhuman treatment and negligence.

Conditions for foster families

The statute lays down a slew of conditions that should be met by foster families. They include, the foster parents should be of good conduct and the age of either parent should not be less than 25 years and they must be capable financially to provide a decent living to the foster child as well as the members of their own families.

“The directives of the President are a positive step that boosts the humanitarian values in the society, as they have been issued at a time when the UAE is pursuing a social plan that supports the strong presence of the Emirati family, trying to achieve the best social fabric and providing a proper and balanced environment for such children to make them responsible and effective members of the society,” Al Roumi said.

The law details the rights and duties of foster families, insisting on providing secure living conditions for the growth of the child in an Islamic and social environment, she noted.

Procedures to be followed

Article 3 of the law lays down the procedures to be followed if a child is found abandoned. The person who finds the child must inform the nearest police station, where the child will be officially received and then sent to the nearest health centre for necessary health checkups.

The Public Prosecution will be responsible for referring the child to the care home of children of unknown parents after coordinating with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Interior. The child will be given a name followed by three other names. The care home will complete the necessary procedures for registering the child as per the laws in the country.

If biological parents surface

If the biological parents come forward, the law does not disregard their right to take the child into their care. They must be able to prove that they are the biological parents before a court which will then issue a ruling to this effect. The child will then be re-registered under a new name suggested by the biological parents.