September 17, 2019
A boy found wandering alone at a mall in Dubai 10 days ago may be temporarily placed with a foster family until his parents are found.
Under the UAE's child protection law, which states that a child's physical and mental well-being must be protected, the boy could be placed in the care of a family to minimise his trauma while police search for his guardians.
The boy, 5, was found outside Al Reef Mall in Deira on September 7. A Filipina shopper noticed he was alone and took him into the shopping centre.
She waited for some time before raising the alarm when no one came looking for him.No one has come forward to claim the boy, who is believed to be Indian but only speaks English.
Officers believe his mother left him with a friend to be taken care of, possibly having been unable to cope. The friend is thought to have left him at the mall, presumably in the hope he would be found and looked after.
The identity and whereabouts of the boy's father is also unknown. When asked the name of his father, the boy answered "Superman".
Mohammed Rustom, Dubai's Advocate General and head of family and juvenile prosecution, said the boy appeared to have been deliberately abandoned.The boy is being looked after by women officers in Al Muraqqabat Police Station. Should investigations take a long time, he will likely be transferred to a foster home or a social welfare body.
Dr. Hasan Elhais, a legal consultant from Al Rowaad Advocates, said there were several options in place to help the child during the investigation.
Among them are to place the boy in the care of a social, educational or health institution - be it private or government run - while his family are being searched for.
"Children who do not have a competent breadwinner or source of income have the right to be assisted by the country according to laws in force, says article 23 from the UAE's child protection law," said Dr. Elhais.
Should the child's parents be found, they could face charges of child endangerment and expect a punishment of either imprisonment or a fine not less than Dh5,000 as stated in article 60.
"Charges include endangering the mental, psychological, physical or moral integrity of the child through abandonment and exposing the child to rejection, homelessness or neglect and leaving the child without supervision," Dr. Elhais said.