UAE : Has made no progress in protecting the Rights of Child
The KidsRights Index is the annual global index that ranks countries on the basis of their work to improve children’s rights. It consolidates the most crucial general children’s rights areas and implementation requirements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) for which sufficient data is available. The five domains of the KidsRights Index are:
1. Right to Life
2. Right to Health
3. Right to Education
4. Right to Protection
5. Enabling Environment for Child Rights
The United Arab Emirates scored 78th on global ranking Children’s Rights and ranked 122-129th on domain 5 “Enabling Environment for Child Rights”. Indeed, on five out of 7 indicators(non-discrimination, best interests of the child, respect for the views of the child, enabling legislation and best available budget), the scores stayed the same in 2015 as they were in 2002 whereas in the two remaining scores (data collection and state-civil society cooperation) the United Arab Emirates’ score dropped from a high to an average and low scores which indicates that UAE needs to do more to provide the necessary conditions to realize children’s right.
The KidsRights Index shows several violations committed by the UAE regarding the rights of children, thus, important conclusions and recommendations will be taken into consideration:
On non-discrimination (score 1):
Discrimination against girls under the personal status law persists, mostly in the field of inheritance and custody, there are no official measures taken by Emirati authorities to prevent it. Certain rights are guaranteed only to citizens and not to noncitizens residing in the United Arab Emirates. Bidoon children and children born out of wedlock experience serious discrimination in relation to the enjoyment of their rights under the CRC.
To fulfill the obligation to eliminate and combat all forms of discrimination against bidoon children, children born out of wedlock, non- Emirati citizens residing in the UAE and girls.
On best interests of the child (score 1):
Children’s right to take into consideration their interests as a priority is often neglected. In fact, some judges consider underage marriage as being a girl’s best interest which reveals a misunderstanding of the concept of best interests and leads to multiple violations of girls’ rights.
To provide guidance procedures to all authorities for determining the best interest of children in every area and taking it as a primary consideration in order to avoid misconceptions and make sure that these interests will be integrated and applied in all legislative, administrative and judicial proceedings
On respect for the views of the child (score 2):
KidsRights Index shows that the Emirates are in the process of forming a children’s parliament that will represent all children of the State; however, concerns remain that this parliament will continue to limit respect of children’s views, especially within the family and in school.
To identify the most important issues to children, listen to their views, and conduct awareness-raising programs that promote children’s participation within the family, community and schools, and give particular attention to girls and children in vulnerable situations.
On enabling legislation (score 2):
There are concerns about the slow progress of the process of adopting the Children’s Rights Bill in the United Arab Emirates in addition to the fact that the existing legislation of the State party does not criminalize all forms of violence against children and does not protect them from pornography and prostitution.
To adopt the Children’s Rights Bill and ensure that it complies and covers all provisions and rights of the CRC and adopt a law that addresses all forms of violence, prohibits punishment in all settings and includes measures to raise awareness of positive and non-violent forms of child-rearing as well as to abolish all legislation treating child victims as offenders rather than victims and criminalize sexual abuse against children, in particular child prostitution and child pornography and punish all those involved in these crimes.
On best available budget (score 2):
The KidsRights Index shows that the United Arab Emirates has increased the spending on education. However, information is lacking on the allocation of resources for the implementation of all rights under the CRC and on the measures taken by the Emirates to establish a tracking system for budgetary allocation.
To use a child-rights approach in formulating the national budget, by implementing a tracking system for the allocation and use this tracking system for impact assessments regarding how investments in any sector may serve “the best interests of the child and both girls and boys can benefit from it in addition to ensuring a transparent and participatory budgeting through public dialogue, especially with children and for the proper accountability of local authorities.
On data collection (score 2):
No information was provided by the UAE on the joint cooperation program with UNESCO to compile data on children to the CRC Committee in addition to the lack of disaggregated data on children with disabilities.
To speed up the establishment of a comprehensive data collection system and to ensure that disaggregated data are collected on all persons under the age of 18 with respect to all areas covered by the CRC, including non-national children, bidoon children, girls, children living in remote areas, children with disabilities and children of economically disadvantaged households.
On state-civil society cooperation (score 1):
The KidsRights Index shows a very limited number of independent NGOs working specifically in the field of children’s rights. There is also a difficulty in assessing children’s situation in addition to the continual harassment of human rights defenders in the United Arab Emirates.
To give legitimate recognition to human rights defenders and their work, ensure that reported cases of harassment against them are strongly investigated and that those responsible for such abuses are held accountable and involve all communities and civil society, including NGOs and children’s organizations, in the planning and monitoring of policies, plans and programs related to children’s rights.
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