Lecture on Protection of children’s rights law [Archives:2004/754/Community]

July 12 2004

Mohammed bin Sallam
Ms. Shaza Mohamed Nasser is one of the skillful and pioneering attorneys in the Republic of Yemen. She has had many participations and a large and broad presence in most of the activities related to liberties and rights inside the Yemeni arena. She is one of the most dedicated advocates in the field of human rights and the defenders of the most vulnerable segment of society, young or old.
Last week, Ms. Shaza delivered a valuable lecture at the Italian Organization Forum for Research (Ricerca Cooperazione).
We thought that it would be useful for the benefit of all to print the lecture.

First: the introduction
As a mother and a lawyer, I have been very concerned about Yemeni children and their future. The love of children and motherhood are my shadow everywhere I go. I always try to settle any quarrels between children and I would find myself standing against anyone threatening, intimidating or attacking children.
The Yemeni family must participate in enhancing the protection of children's rights. The family and not the state bears the first responsibility toward children and to ensure minimum basic rights in providing them with clean cloths, appropriate nutrition, security, and organizing their time for playing, resting and studying. The family has the burden and bears the responsibility to protect children them from any harm they may encounter.

Second: Law no. 45, 2002
A: the objectives of Children's Rights Law No. 45, 2002
1- the right to live
2- the rights to express freely their opinions and to form associations and clubs to practice cultural and social activities.
3- the right to nationality
4- the rights to breast feeding from their mothers and from others based on medical reports with the approval of parents and two relative witnesses, with the emphasis on breast feeding.
5- the law discusses the subject of belonging to one's family in detail although it was mentioned in Personal Identification Law No. 20, 1992 and its amendments in 1998 and 1999.

B: The law outlines the ages for males and females for nursing periods of 7 and 12 respectively. The law sought that children be close to their mothers. If fathers were very strict, the law emphasized the importance of also having a woman to care for them. Article No. 34 confirms the right of the mother to custody of the child if the mother becomes widowed or divorced. It also indicated that expenses are to be borne by the father. The law defines also the process of paying alimony and expenses if the father, or whoever is legally responsible, is imprisoned.

The Yemeni legislators set the age of 15 as the age of adulthood and for a person to bear responsibility for their behavior. It is considered the age for the person to commence practicing his or her civil liberties, if he or she is mentally sound.
Article (62) the illegality for the guardian to relinquish or to terminate responsibility for the child. The law sets the age of 10 years old for the child to be able to determine with whom he or she wants to be, but to remain under guardianship until the legal age.

C: The law confirms the responsibility of the state for providing basic health care services to mothers during pregnancy and childbirth. It obliges the state to providing free medical treatment to children who are unable to cover their expenses.
The law touches upon issuing health ID cards for children from birth until they reach the age of going to school. Vaccinations are to be provided free of charge, whilst parents bear the responsibility to ensure that their children receive the required treatment.

Child nutrition
The Yemeni legislators confirm the importance of naturally breast feeding by increasing mother's awareness level of its nutritional value to the child. They do not permit launching of promotional campaigns for manufactured milk as the alternative to mother's milk.

Children's education
The law confirms the provision of free education for children. The law urges the state to assist poor families in order to allow their children to go to school. The law also confirms the rights of children to having free time, play time and to have various cultural and social activities including sports, arts and recreations. It endeavored to protect children by restricting their entry to movie theaters according to their age and the category or type of movies suitable for them.

Alternative childcare services
The law deals with the importance of having nursing, fostering, and orphanage homes to care for children as an alternative to family care if necessary, and to facilitate social, health and educational institutes for all. The state assumes also the responsibility to assist handicapped children by granting them additional services and privileges. It also allows them to establish charities that are dedicated to assisting this segment of society.

Caring for child laborers
The legislators set the age of 14 for children to work, and the age of 15 to commence industrial work. They also set restrictions on the ability of children to sign contracts to ensure the children's rights to receive their full wages, health care and compensation for work injuries in accordance with the effective laws. The law stipulates conducting a physical and medical check up to determine the children's suitability for specific working conditions. It determines working hours of six hours per day with a one hour break, so that the child would not work 4 consecutive hours.
The Yemeni legislators emphasize that the child is not to remain 7 hours continuously at the work place and not to work overtime or to work during weekends or at night between 7pm-7am, with the obligation of employers to pay for their days off.
The law emphasizes the importance of the state to taking measures to protect homeless children and victims of natural and man-made disasters. The state is to care for the orphans and not to lead them to become street beggars.
The law prohibits the granting of drivers' licenses to minors and prohibits them from riding motorbikes under the age of 10 years old.
The children are protected from the dangers associated with armed conflicts and are not to be involved in war or recruited by the military before the age of 18.
The law touches upon the protection of children from economic and sexual exploitation and exposure to illegal drugs through the adoption of several preventive measures.
Finally, the law embraces a number of punitive measures to urge families or guardians to protect their children, but we have to present and to implement the law in rural areas before urban areas.
I hope that I have been able to summarize the law that protects children rights.