TOUGHER punishments for people who take advantage of children have been approved by the Shura Council.
The parliamentary proposal involves jail sentences of six months and fines of at least BD200 for those found guilty of the offence.
It is targeting adults who take advantage of those under 18 by stealing their money or property, forging deals or making them sign documents that are legally binding.
Those who force children to steal will face a jail sentence of three months to two years.
If more than one child is involved the punishment can be doubled with an additional fine of BD1,000.
The amendment is one of several proposed for the Penal Code. It also includes changes to the law on manslaughter, embezzlement, fraud, harming government employees and insulting the National Assembly.
"We should acknowledge that children are not aware of legalities of several issues," Education Minister and acting Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Dr Majid Al Nuaimi told the Shura Council yesterday.
"Misusing their innocence for benefits or gains should be punishable by law and the punishments should be severe," he asserted.
Dr Al Nuaimi told the GDN that the government was planning to present its own amendments to the Penal Code for discussions.
"We have others planned, which the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry is currently preparing," he pointed out.
"One of the amendments that the Shura Council is presently looking into criminalises attacks and insults on government employees, but we see such crimes definitely require bigger punishments.
"The direction is right, but is not matched with strong legislation."