Child rights in Kuwait

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By At­tor­ney Fa­jer Ahmed

Ev­ery so­ci­ety has dif­fer­ent tra­di­tions when it comes to what is and is not ac­cept­able be­hav­ior re­gard­ing chil­dren, ev­ery gen­er­a­tion also has dif­fer­ent ways of do­ing things. Mar­riage to a 10-year-old was ac­cept­able in many coun­tries in the past, even in the Gulf Co­op­er­a­tion Coun­cil states, but is cer­tainly not ac­cept­able or le­gal now. Child la­bor was also le­gal in many coun­tries in the pre­vi­ous cen­tury but is not now. What about Kuwaiti law in gen­eral? What are the most im­por­tant laws when it comes to age?

I per­son­ally think that more light should be shed on child rights in the GCC. To­day, I have gath­ered ques­tions from my read­ers/clients on chil­dren in Kuwait and their rights from adults that are con­cerned.

Mi­nors un­der 16 for crim­i­nal cases

Ques­tion: My son is 16 years old and as a teenager he can be hard to con­trol some­times. His friends and him were caught steal­ing from the gro­cery shop next door. I am re­ally wor­ried about him. I heard there is a new law in Kuwait that makes 16 years the new “le­gal age” and there­fore he can be held re­spon­si­ble, is this true?

Fa­jer: Be­fore I an­swer the ques­tion, I want to make it clear that un­der Kuwaiti law there is no such thing as “le­gal age”. There are dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances for ages un­der Kuwaiti law de­pend­ing on the law that is of con­cern. I think what you are speak­ing about is crim­i­nal law, in the past those ac­cused of a crime were only tri­aled at the crim­i­nal courts for adults if they were 18 and above. The new law states that mi­nors are now un­der 16 years old for crim­i­nal cases and not 18.

Child rights

Ques­tion: A lot of peo­ple say there are no child rights in Kuwait. Is this true? Also, as a teacher, I would like my stu­dents to be aware of what they can do or who they can speak to should there be any in­ci­dents or when they feel un­safe. What can I tell them?

Fa­jer: Of course chil­dren have rights in Kuwait just like any other civil so­ci­ety, but the rights dif­fer ac­cord­ingly. The Min­istry of Health in Kuwait has a Child Pro­tec­tion Hot­line; the num­ber is 147, and chil­dren in Kuwait should be aware of this num­ber and the ser­vices they of­fer. Adults should also know this num­ber and call it should they see any chil­dren be­ing abused.

Di­vorce and travel

Ques­tion: I am di­vorced and I would like to take my chil­dren with me on a hol­i­day back home. Am I al­lowed to do that? Do my chil­dren have the right to refuse also?

Fa­jer: Ques­tions like this need to be more spe­cific, as a lawyer I need more in­for­ma­tion from you. It de­pends on if you are the mother or fa­ther and also what is the re­li­gion of the mar­riage as well as the terms that were agreed upon for the di­vorce.

If you are the mother and you have “le­gal guardian­ship” on the chil­dren, legally speak­ing you still need per­mis­sion from their fa­ther in or­der to travel. The of­fi­cer at im­mi­gra­tion could ask you for a per­mis­sion let­ter from their fa­ther.

For any le­gal ques­tions, queries or if you need le­gal as­sis­tance, email ask@fa­jerthelawyer.com

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