Marnie Pearce,'Dubai Brit' adultery case: rights of the children must be protected
You may have read some of the press reports about Marnie Pearce, a British woman living in Dubai who has been convicted – falsely, she claims – of adultery. She has just started serving a three-month jail sentence. Her conviction will almost certainly mean that she will lose custody of her two children to their father, Ihab El-Labban.
Amnesty is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Marnie Pearce. Our view is that the consensual sex lives of adults should not be a criminal matter.
But there are additional concerns that the charges may have been brought to influence a custody battle that she is fighting with her husband since the couple split up several months ago. And there’s a danger that the rights of the children – two young boys aged four and seven – will be forgotten in the dispute between their parents.
Any decision on the custody of children should be decided on the basis of what is in their best interests – not on the basis of dispute between the parents. And even though they are young, the children should still be allowed a say in what happens to them: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that they have a right to express their views, and that an advocate should be appointed to give the children a chance to have their say.
I should probably add that Amnesty isn’t ‘taking sides’ in the custody battle or giving a view on what is in the best interests of the two boys. We deal with enough complex cases without getting involved in custody battles. But it’s important that the rights of these two children are acknowledged and respected: human rights aren’t something that you have to wait until your 18th birthday to get.
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