Bahrain passes new child protection law
Manama, May 23, 2012
A new law, which outlaws the use of children aged below 18 in political gatherings, rallies, demonstrations and violence, was passed by Bahrain’s parliament yesterday (May 22).
It also bans parents from giving their children “improper” names that could result in them being ridiculed.
MPs agreed to pass 60 disputed articles after parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani urged them to approve it, arguing the differences with the Shura Council – the upper chamber of the National Assembly - were minor.
Human Rights and Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi said the law had been debated so long that there was international pressure to finally introduce the legislation.
“This law, which is the first of its type in Bahrain, is vital and will help the government protect children’s rights – something that isn’t done through existing legislation at the moment,” she said.
“There are some articles that are now outdated and we promise they will be referred back soon for amendments, but we can’t see the law thrown out after all this time.”
She described parliament’s decision as a historic moment.
“I know it was not included for discussion in the last session and I thought it would not be approved, but MPs thankfully proved everyone wrong and took a historic decision to approve it despite the differences,” added Dr Al Balooshi.
The new legislation outlaws the use of children aged below 18 in political gatherings, rallies and demonstrations and the implication of minors in “organised” and “unorganised” crime, including “planting the seeds of extremism and hatred” and “incitement of violence and terrorism”.
In its current form the law includes jail sentences of up to one year or fines up to BD1,000 ($2,653), or both.
MPs yesterday agreed with councillors to drop a chapter on the criminal prosecution of children, saying it contradicted Bahrain’s international obligations.
It also states that children cannot be separated from their parents or guardian without a court order, based on substantial evidence of mistreatment.
The Public Prosecution will have the right to appoint a temporary guardian during court proceedings. – TradeArabia News Service