Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography

Human Rights Council\2010

Mission to the United Arab Emirates∗
Excerpts Of Report
This report explores the phenomena of the sale of children, child prostitution and
child pornography in the United Arab Emirates, in the light of international human rights
standards. Based on information gathered prior to during and after this visit, the Special
Rapporteur highlights the legislative initiatives and child protection strategies undertaken to
address the phenomena of sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, and
child protection in general. 

Scope of sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography
18. During the visit, the Special Rapporteur received a low number of reported cases of
sale of children and of trafficking of children for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The
Abu Dhabi Police informed the Special Rapporteur that there were no reported cases of sale
or sexual exploitation of children in 2008. The Abu Dhabi Police also reported that the
women who were arrested for engaging in prostitution were above 18 years of age. The
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Article 7: The United Arab Emirates is of the view that the acquisition of nationality is an internal
matter and one that is regulated and whose terms and conditions are established by national
legislation.
Article 14: The United Arab Emirates shall be bound by the tenor of this article to the extent that it
does not conflict with the principles and provisions of Islamic law.
Article 17: While the United Arab Emirates appreciates and respects the functions assigned to the
mass media by the article, it shall be bound by its provisions in the light of the requirements of
domestic statues and laws and, in accordance with the recognition accorded them in the preamble to
the Convention, such a manner that the country’s traditions and cultural values are not violated.
Article 21: Since, given its commitment to the principles of Islamic law, the United Arab Emirates
does not permit the system of adoption, it has reservations with respect to this article and does not
deem it necessary to be bound by its provisions. A/HRC/16/57/Add.2
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authorities also reported on one case of trafficking of children for sexual exploitation
involving two girls, who are in a shelter. This case is currently with the prosecutor’s office.
19. Judges at the Dubai courts informed the Special Rapporteur that they have dealt with
perhaps one case of sexual exploitation of a child in their courts in the past 5 to 10 years.
Cases of prostitution, they report, involve women over 18 years of age. The Secretariat of
the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking reported that there were 20 cases of
human trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation registered with the National
Committee in 2008, the largest number emanating from Dubai. There were a total of 32
victims and 43 accused persons. The Special Rapporteur also received information about
successful operations to dismantle trafficking networks, in cooperation with Kazakhstan
and Tajikistan. The Special Rapporteur regrets, however, that existing statistics are not
disaggregated by form of trafficking nor by age and gender of the victims.
20. The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children reported that they worked with 43
victims of trafficking in 2008, and 22 victims of trafficking in the first half of 2009.
According to the Foundation, on average, children represent 26 per cent of the victims of
trafficking staying at the shelter, whereas in the first half of 2009, children represented 32
per cent of the victims of trafficking staying at the shelter, i.e., seven victims of trafficking.
21. The Prosecutor General’s Office in Sharjah informed the Special Rapporteur that his
office has one pending case of sale of a child, as a result of an “illegal relationship”
between a woman and an unknown father. The trial date has yet to be fixed, so the Special
Rapporteur encourages the United Arab Emirates to keep her informed of developments
regarding this case, ensuring that the child is provided with adequate care, protection and
follow-up.
22. The Special Rapporteur notes that knowledge about the use of children in
pornography is limited. She observed that child pornography is understood as children
viewing pornography, rather than the use of children in pornographic materials, which
many in society still do not believe can occur.
23. The Government informed the Special Rapporteur that the file relating to the use of
child camel jockeys is now closed. The authorities stated that all former child camel
jockeys have been repatriated and that there are no new cases of children being used in such
activities. More information on this issue is provided below, in paragraphs 65–69.
24. The Special Rapporteur notes the lack of a centralized and standardized information
system for gathering data on the phenomena of sale of children and sexual exploitation of
children, analysis of such data, sharing of information and reporting. The absence of such a
system would explain disparities in data provided by various stakeholders on the incidence
of these phenomena.
B. Domestic legal framework
25. The Constitution of the United Arab Emirates provides for a range of human rights
that are relevant to the mandate of the Special Rapporteur. For instance, article 15 provides
that “the family is the basis of society. It is founded on morality, religion, ethics and
patriotism. The law shall guarantee its existence, safeguard and protect it from corruption”.
Article 16 provides that “society shall be responsible for protecting childhood and
motherhood and shall protect minors and others unable to look after themselves for any
reason, such as illness or incapacity or old age or forced unemployment. It shall be
responsible for assisting them and enabling them to help themselves for their own benefit
and that of the community”. The Constitution also provides that education shall be
compulsory in its primary stage and free of charge at all stages (art. 17). A/HRC/16/57/Add.2
7
26. In 2002, the Committee on the Rights of the Child observed that several rights
contained in the Convention (such as non-discrimination) are not adequately reflected in
domestic law (CRC/C/15/Add.183, para. 7). The Special Rapporteur learned of a draft law
on child protection which has reportedly been submitted for approval to the Federal
National Council. This bill, a copy of which the Special Rapporteur was not able to review
despite her repeated requests, allegedly brings together elements of the existing Juvenile
Delinquency and Vagrancy Act, the Criminal Code and the rights contained in the
Convention on the Rights of the Child. While welcoming the initiative taken to prepare a
law on child protection, the Special Rapporteur is not in a position to comment on the draft
law’s compatibility with the State’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, given that she was not provided with a copy thereof. She nevertheless stands ready to
provide any guidance or assistance in this respect.
1. Sale of children
27. Article 346 of the Penal Code (Federal Act No. 3 of 1987) prohibits the sale of
persons for enslavement and provides that “whoever brings into or out of the country any
person with the intent to possess or dispose of that person and whoever possesses,
purchases, sells, offers for sale or transacts in any manner any person as a slave, shall be
punished with provisional imprisonment.”
28. Nevertheless, the Special Rapporteur notes the absence of specific provisions
defining and prohibiting the sale of children. By way of indication, article 2 of the Optional
Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child
prostitution and child pornography defines the sale of children as any act or transaction
whereby a child is transferred by any person or group of persons to another for
remuneration or any other consideration.
2. Child prostitution and child pornography
29. Article 358 of the Penal Code stipulates that “anyone who commits an indecent act,
even in private, with a girl or boy under the age of 15 shall be sentenced to not less than one
year in prison”. Furthermore, article 363 of the Penal Code provides that “anyone who uses
any means to incite, recruit or seduce a male or female with a view to engaging him or her
in acts of debauchery or prostitution shall be sentenced to a term of not less than one year in
prison and a fine”. If the victim was under the age of 18, the perpetrator shall be sentenced
to at least two years in prison and a fine.
30. Article 42 of the Juvenile Vagrants and Delinquents Act provides that: “a penalty of
up to one year in prison or a fine of from 2,000 to 5,000 dirhams shall be imposed on
anyone who exposes a minor to delinquency, by preparing him for it, inciting him to engage
in such behaviour or in any way facilitating his involvement therein, even if the
delinquency does not actually materialize as far as the law is concerned. According to
article 13 of the Act, delinquency is a situation in which a person “commits acts involving
prostitution, depravity, moral turpitude, gambling or drugs”. This article would thus
presumably cover situations of use of children in pornography.
31. In the aftermath of the visit, the Special Rapporteur received information about the
drafting of a new law which would create the specific offence of possession of child
pornography. The law would also set up a register for those convicted of sex offences
against children and provide for the establishment of a child protection centre to deal with
cases of child sexual abuse. Since the Special Rapporteur has not seen a copy of the draft
legal provisions, she invites the Government to keep her informed of all developments in
this regard. A/HRC/16/57/Add.2
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3. Trafficking in children
32. The Special Rapporteur notes Federal Law No. 51 on Combating Human
Trafficking Crimes (2006) which defines trafficking according to the definition contained
in the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women
and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational
Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol) and sets out the duties of the National Committee to
Combat Human Trafficking. The law furthermore defines a child as any person who is less
than 18 years old. However, the Special Rapporteur notes the absence of a specific article
on trafficking in children. Such an article should provide that the recruitment,
transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall
be considered “trafficking in persons” even if this does not involve any of the means set
forth in the definition (threat, use of force, coercion, kidnap, fraud, deceit, abuse of power,
exploitation of a condition of weakness, offering or receiving money or advantages to
secure consent of a person who is in control of another person).
33. The Special Rapporteur expresses concern at the absence of provisions in the
Human Trafficking Act relating to protection measures for victims of trafficking. She
learned that the Human Trafficking Act is currently being amended, notably with respect to
provisions regarding the protection of witnesses and evidence. The Special Rapporteur
encourages the Government to keep her informed of all developments in this regard, with a
view to ensuring that all amendments are in keeping with international human rights
standards.
4. Adoption of children
34. Article 21 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that States parties
that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the  child shall be the paramount consideration and sets out certain conditions to ensure the
safeguard of the child in both national and intercountry adoption processes.
35. Adoption is not permitted in the United Arab Emirates, as reflected in its reservation
to article 21 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Special Rapporteur learned
about the elaboration of a draft law on children (national or not) with unknown parents,
which provides for conditions under which a child may be taken under the care of by an
adult (for instance, a family member). The Special Rapporteur did not see a copy of this
draft, but once again expresses her willingness to provide any assistance or support in this
regard.
36. During the examination of its State report to the Committee on the Rights of the
Child in 2002, the United Arab Emirates stated that the national committee monitoring the
implementation of the Convention on the Rights was going to re-examine all the
reservations to the Convention. More particularly, the United Arab Emirates stated that its
reservation to article 21 would be withdrawn given the fact that its provisions are optional
for those States which do not recognize or permit the system of adoption (CRC/C/SR.794,
para. 30). The United Arab Emirates have not yet done so.
5. Nationality
37. Pursuant to article 2 of the Nationality Act, the following children are granted
nationality in the United Arab Emirates:
(a) A child born in the State or abroad to a national father by law;
(b) A child born in the State or abroad to a national mother by law and whose
affiliation to the father is not legally established; A/HRC/16/57/Add.2
(c) A child born in the State or abroad to a national mother by law and of
unknown father or stateless;
(d) A child born in the State of unknown parents. Unless otherwise established,
the foundling shall be deemed born in the State.

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