Parents ‘can be prosecuted’ for child death falls in Sharjah

Sharjah: Despite new safety rules implemented last year to child-proof homes in residential towers, a string of child deaths from falls from buildings are prompting Sharjah Police once again to advise parents to be more vigilant than ever.

Parents of children who died after falls from high-rise flat windows and balconies will be referred to the courts when evidence proves they neglected their children or left them unattended, a senior police officer said on Sunday.Colonel Khalifa Kalander, Director of Comprehensive Police Stations at Sharjah Police,  “All cases of falling incidents are being referred to the public prosecution to issue their decision on the case.”Col Kalander said that a pattern of lack of safety and security measures inside flats in high-rise buildings is the main problem.

He warned parents not to leave their children unattended at home and to instruct housemaids to keep a close eye on them.“These kinds of tragic incidents have occurred frequently during the course of recent years, leaving a painful and unfortunate impact on the lives of many families,” he said.

In 2015 alone, there were seven cases of children’s deaths from falls which were referred to the prosecution while so far this year, two cases have been sent for a decision on whether to prosecute. Seven children died from fatal falls in 2014, an increase from four falls in 2013.In some of those cases, children who fell had been left alone at home by parents.

Sharjah Police said that all cases of children falling were referred to public prosecutors who will decide either to shelve the case or prosecute the parents.Several cases were registered in Sharjah courts in recent years but they were shelved as the deaths were deemed accidental.One case in Sharjah saw a mother sentenced by Sharjah court to pay a Dh3,000 fine and blood money.

Endangering the life of a child under 15 can invite a penalty of one month to two years’ imprisonment. The penalty increases to three years if the child is left unattended.Col Kalander urged residents to be vigilant and ensure they keep their windows and balconies closed and not to leave furniture items under windows or on the balcony because young children have climbed on to these and fallen from windows and balconies.

The fact that incidents continue to take place means that “some parents don’t learn a lesson from such advice and guidance, and insist on repeating the mistakes committed by other parents, which led to their children’s deaths”, said Col Kalander“In order to avoid such painful circumstances, parents need to follow safety measures in their homes, watch and supervise their children; make sure windows are closed and keep any objects that help children climb windows and balconies away — especially in areas where they play.”