Rights of Dubai Briton's children must be protected
Posted: 27 February 2009
The rights of the children of Marnie Pearce, a British woman jailed in Dubai for alleged adultery, must be protected, urged Amnesty International UK today.
Amnesty stressed that the best interests of the two boys, aged four and seven, must be the primary consideration in any decision about custody and reminded the Dubai authorities that this is a requirement of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the United Arab Emirates is a party.
The children also have the right to be consulted and express an opinion on what happens to them, said Amnesty, adding that an advocate should be appointed to give them a fair opportunity to express themselves.
Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:
'The rights of these two young children are in serious danger of being forgotten in the dispute between their parents. Any decision about the custody of the two boys must focus first and foremost on what is best for them.
'The boys should also be allowed to express their own opinion on what should happen to them. No child should be separated from their parents against their will, unless it's fairly decided that this is absolutely in the child's best interests.
'This is what international law requires. The Dubai authorities must respect the boys' human rights.
'The UK Foreign Office should be doing everything in its power to ensure that the rights of these children, who are both British, are protected.'
The organisation also called for the immediate and unconditional release of Marnie Pearce from Dubai Central Jail al-Awir, where she is believed to be imprisoned. Amnesty considers her to be a prisoner of conscience and that consensual sexual relations between adults should not be criminalised.
Tim Hancock said:
'Marnie Pearce is a prisoner of conscience. She should be immediately and unconditionally released.
'She disputes the allegations against her, but they should not be a criminal matter in the first place. They should certainly not influence the decision over who has custody of these children.'