Dubai Police have warned that negligent parents leading their children to danger could be jailed for upto three years, as per the UAE law.
UAE has witnessed repeated accidents involving children during recent months, many resulting in deaths. At least six children have died after accidentally falling from the balcony of high-rise buildings in 2011 alone.
Recent surveys have revealed an alarming rate of seat belt violations, especially among children. Earlier this year, a one-and-a-half-year old baby died in a car accident in Palm Jumeirah. The baby was sitting in the mother’s lap at the time of the incident.
Although, in most cases parents are let off without any serious charges on compassionate grounds, police and legal experts have warned that willful negligence could be severely punishable.
Colonnel Ahmad Bin Galiza, Manager, Crime Prevention Department at the Dubai Police told 'Emirates24|7' that it is the duty and responsibility of every parent to ensure the safety of their little ones. “There is no excuse for being careless or negligent,” he said.
According to him the enforcement of punishment depends upon the public attorney and the courts.
The UAE Federal law 319 1987 deals with the responsibility of parents and stipulates criminal punishment for upto three years on those leading their children towards danger.
According to Saeed Al Gilani a senior lawyer, parents can be jailed anywhere from one month to three years if they leave their children younger than 15 years unattended, and thereby resulting in an accident. The severity of the punishment will increase based on the extent of the impact on the child.
Similar law applies to parents of a person with special needs. “A similar punishment is applicable to parents who even fail to provide their children sufficient care, including leaving them to starve,” said Gilani.
He further added that parents could be penalised with imprisonment from one month to three years or be fined Dh10,000, if their children seven years and younger are led to any sort of dangerous situation either by them or by anyone else in their absence.
According to Bindu Chettar, a senior lawyer, exemplary punishment is required in cases where parents have been willfully negligent.
“Protecting the child with a seatbelt is mandatory and when parents even fail to put it into practice, they need to be punished,” she said.
“We have several cases of food poisoning as well, where fines have been imposed and fathers have been taken into custody. But the court usually takes a very lenient approach taking into consideration the situation of the parent. But law must be stringent enough so that, people do not commit such crimes. Prevention is the best solution,” she added.