For World Children's Day

Children of detainees.. deprived of rights and increasingly suffering

23 Nov 2021
Children of detainees.. deprived of rights and increasingly suffering

The UAE state media used World Children's Day (November 20) to promote "achievements in advancing gains that protect children's rights and enable them to live with dignity" and to emphasize "that the country is a pioneer in protecting and caring for children."

Media coverage highlighted Federal Law No. 3 of 2016 on the Rights of the Child, known as "Wadeema's Law 2018", in honor of an Emirati girl whose father had killed her and hidden her in the desert, as one of the most important achievements in this field.

Indeed, this law contains very good provisions for the protection of children and gives them the right to live with dignity. However, most of what the "Wadeema Law" guarantees is subject to the term "in accordance with the provisions of the laws in force in the State", which in practice means that the rights have no value, their content can simply be bypassed and deprived of its essence by other laws.

Article 10 of "Wadeema's Law" says: "The child has the right to citizenship in accordance with the provisions of the laws in force in the country." And the Citizenship and Passports Act No. 17 of 1972, which is applicable in this case, strips this right of its value and even allows the deprivation of citizenship even for children, as Article 16 states: "If a person's citizenship is deprived, it may also be deprived of his wife and minor children."

The UAE authorities have repeatedly used this article to retaliate against detainees of conscience by revoking the citizenship of a number of their children, such as the children of Abd al-Salam Darwish  (Salman, Imran and Hamdan) and Mahmoud al-Hosani (Hamad and Afnan).

There are many examples confirming that the rights of the child guaranteed by the "Wadeema Law" are only ink on paper and that the UAE authorities constantly violate this law without abiding by its texts.

The story of Hamdan, the son of the detainee Darwish, confirms that the "Wadeema's Law" is only meant for media consumption and is not applied in reality. The authorities revoked the son's citizenship, violating his most basic rights.

Then they stopped funding his treatment abroad, a clear violation of Article 18 of "Wadeema's Law," which states, "The child's right to medical care." Hamdan has not been able to see his father for years. This is not only an immoral violation of the child's rights, but also of human rights.

Although the law indicates in many of its articles that the family is the best environment for raising children and that parents play an important role in achieving psychological stability for them, the authorities arbitrarily detain their parents and deprive them of the opportunity to grow up in their care and even to see or hug them when they visit them in prisons.

Detainee Amina Al-Abdouli complained that she could not hug or touch her five children when they visited her because they were separated by a glass wall. The interrogator even tortured her psychologically, telling her that her children were always absent-minded and that their school performance dropped because of their mother's arrest.

In recent years, the violation of the rights of children of political prisoners has reached unprecedented levels in UAE history. For the first time, children were included in the lists of those banned from traveling. In 2012, the authorities informed the children of opposition figure and dissident Muhammad Saqr Al Zaabi and banned them from traveling abroad.

Another story is that of Muhammad Al-Nuaimi, who died recently after being banned from traveling to his father, dissident Ahmed Al-Shaiba Al-Nuaimi. Although Muhammad had suffered from cerebral palsy since birth and could not speak, the authorities did not hesitate to prevent him from traveling in retaliation against his father.

The Abu Dhabi authorities do not seem to pay much attention to the text of Article 4 of the "Wadeema Law", which prevents the competent authorities from psychologically harming children.