Abu Dhabi, UAE: Court cases involving children have reduced over the past four years, since officials started communicating with school students, and a further drop is expected with 2015 being announced as the year to educate children about the law.
On Thursday top court and prosecution officials received 40 children at the launch of “2015 Child Legal Culture Year”, an initiative of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, which has been designed to create a safe and secure society by educating children so they will grow up to be legally informed adults who will be less prone to crime and falling foul of the law.
The pupils, from grades 4 to 9, Met the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department’s undersecretary, Yousef Al Ibri, and the attorney general, Ali Al Buloushi, and the head of family prosecution, Mohammed Al Dhanhani.
A discussion was held where the children were told about some of the offences they might be committing unknowingly.
“Some things that you might consider normal are not, for instance pointing a laser [pen] at your friend’s eyes or towards an airplane,” Mr Al Ibri said. “Or if you hit another kid and his father complained to the police, they will take you and question you.”
Mr Al Ibri added: “Now it is the fifth year since we started this awareness [programme] through lectures and shows. For some cases and issues we expect by the end of the year a massive drop in crimes among youngsters.”
Mr Al Dhanhani asked the children if they knew what constituted illegal use of mobile phones.
“It is illegal to use it to disturb others – this is widespread,” he said. “We could confiscate your phones and not give them back to you.”
Mr Al Dhanhani said the most common offences involving pupils in grades 6 to 9 were fights in schools and the misuse of mobile phones and social media.
Traffic offences like riding motorbikes without licences or number plates and registration were others.
“Those who are a bit younger are rarely referred to us, because the schools try to solve the issues from within,” Mr Al Dhanhani said. “Over the past five years we have sensed a great reduction in juvenile offences like traffic crimes … and fights are decreasing … we are receiving fewer cases.”
So far family prosecutors have visited all of Abu Dhabi’s schools and briefed them on legal issues.
They have recommended that legal awareness be included in school curriculums.
“We will fight crime through prevention,” Mr Al Dhanhani said.
Hamdan Al Gimzi, a 14-year-old grade 9 student, said many of his close friends had faced trouble with their families over fights.
“This could help them and their problems can be solved,” he said.
The students were taken to the mobile court bus where they were briefed on the notary public, legal aid, public prosecution and protocols of appearing in a courtroom.
They visited the offices of the head of major public prosecution, and held a question-and-answer session with the chief justice of the criminal court, Idris Binmansour.
© The National