criminal law


May 16, 2017



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Dubai Prosecutors Seek Tougher Sentence for Torture Mum Who Killed Son

Prosecutors say the three-year prison sentence handed to a mother who tortured and killed her 14-month-old son was too lenient.

On Sunday, the Emirati mother, 33, was jailed for stamping on her son's stomach so hard that he died in hospital in July last year.

Witnesses, including the woman's maid and her sister, said it was not the first time the woman had been violent towards the child.

Mohammed Rustom, Dubai advocate general and head of the family and juvenile prosecution, said his department would seek a harsher sentence.

The case also raised questions about whether the private hospital that treated the boy for injuries several times should be charged under the Child Protection Law, informally known as Wadeema's Law, which came into force last June.

Court records show that a police report was lodged on July 16 last year, the same day the child died after being treated in the hospital for nearly five months. But the court was privy to a report issued by the public Latifa Hospital on April 1 last year, which ruled that the boy had not been assaulted.

Legal consultant Magdy Elbery said that under the Penal Code a medical practitioner found guilty of not reporting signs of assault that led to injury or death could face at least a year in jail and a minimum fine of Dh20,000.

"Even before Wadeema's Law came into effect it was binding by law to report such cases," Mr Elbery said. "The doctor who checked the child should have reported the case from the baby's first visit."

Dr Hassan Elhais, of Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants, said that the Child Protection Law prohibited subjecting a child to torture, physical assault or cruelty.

Anyone found guilty of such acts faced imprisonment, a minimum fine of Dh50,000, or both.

"Every person must inform child protection specialists or child protection units if there was any threat to the child's physical, psychological, moral or mental health, as per article 42 from the same law," Dr Elhais said.

Reporting child abuse is also obligatory for educators, doctors, social workers or others who have undertaken to care for or educate children.

The private hospital declined to comment.


The United Arab Emirates abrogated the earlier Penal Code (Federal Law No. 3 of 1987) and issued a new law to govern crimes and penalties, called the Federal Decree-Law No. 31 of 2021 on the Issuance of Crimes and Penalties Law. The new Penal Code was issued on 20 September 2021 and came into force on 2 January 2022.

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