Jawaher Al Qasimi issues directive to establish a Higher Committee for ‘Kanaf’ child protection centre

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), has issued a directive to establish a higher committee to steer Kanaf, a first-of-its-kind interdisciplinary, multi-agency child protection centre that provides prompt legal, psychological, social support to child victims of physical and sexual abuse.

The directive aligns with the emirate’s efforts over the past 40 years to adopt the highest local and international child-and-family-friendly standards and support all legislation and laws relevant to child protection and care to ensure that children grow up in a safe and nurturing environment.

As per the directive, Hanadi Al Yafei, Director of the Child Safety Department (CSD), will head the Higher Committee. Members comprise Counselor Anwar Amin Al Harmoudi, Head of Sharjah Public Prosecution; Dr. Mohamed Obaid Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Sharjah Federal Court of First Instance; Major General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police; and Afaf Ibrahim Al Marri, Head of the Sharjah Social Services Department.

The Higher Committee also includes Dr. Fatima Muhammad Al Khumairi, Head of Forensic Medicine Department at the Ministry of Justice; Dr. Safia Al Khaja, Director of Al Qassimi Women’s and Children’s Hospital; Modhi Al Shamsi, Chairperson of the Department of Family Development Centres; and Dr. Hessa Al Kaabi, Head of the Child Protection Unit at Emirates Schools Establishment.

According to the directive, the committee will oversee the implementation of the Articles of Agreement of the Kanaf project and follow the standards outlined in the agreement between competent entities to manage and operate it. The Higher Committee will also initiate action to form an executive committee to manage the internal operations at Kanaf.

Hanadi Al Yafei, Director of CSD and Head of the Higher Committee of ‘Kanaf’, said: “The Kanaf programme is a landmark initiative founded and supported by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and bring together Sharjah’s specialised entities under one umbrella. Kanaf will utilise local expertise and build on the strengths of the child-protection legislative ecosystem in Sharjah and the UAE to foster a comprehensive and resilient mechanism that supports and safeguards children.”

The CSD Director added: “Kanaf is the first-of-its-kind entity in the UAE and the Arab world. Its a new operational structure which is aligned with the laws and legislative systems of the UAE and Sharjah that places child protection and care at the forefront of its priorities and legislation.”

The CSD Director said that the directive to establish Kanaf’s Higher Committee paves the way for the start of the official launch phase of the project.

Al Yafei continued: “We have studied global child protection models and developed Kanaf in alignment with the culture and values of the Emirati community. Together with our partners, we will provide comprehensive protection to children who experience any form of abuse by implementing the highest support and protection standards and will position the project as an inspiring model that ensures children’s safety and wellbeing.”

Following the announcement of the Kanaf project in 2020, CSD organised several meetings and workshops with partners of the first phase of the project to streamline the processes of providing a wide range of care and protection services to children under Kanaf. The meetings also outlined strategies for concerned authorities to communicate with both families and children in line with its integrated protection and follow-up procedures.