UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Access to justice for children

This report is part of CRIN's access to justice for children project, looking at the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in national law, the status of children involved in legal proceedings, the legal means to challenge violations of children’s rights and the practical considerations involved in challenging violations.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) with four reservations concerning nationality, access to information, adoption and freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The UAE has not acceded to any of the three Optional Protocols. Shari’ah is the main source of law in the UAE; it is unknown whether an international treaty would prevail over national laws. The UAE has several laws for the protection of children’s rights in cases concerning custody, guardianship, care, and juvenile justice, and is due to enact a Law on Child Rights by the end of 2015. The laws in the UAE do not clarify a child’s locus standi in court, but a child’s guardian would have the right to represent the child. Legal aid is provided for ‘indigent’ applicants in cases that qualify as ‘serious’, and a legal representative is provided for any child whose guardian cannot provide them with one. There are limited options for challenging violations of children’s rights in the UAE. A civil case may be brought on behalf of a child to claim damages. Judicial review of laws or administrative acts is generally not available to individuals, and private prosecution is not permitted.

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