UAE anti-trafficking report documents progress

ABU DHABI (31 May 2009) - The UAE made rapid strides in combating human trafficking in 2008, which is reflected in the number of registered cases doubling over the previous year, according to a report released by the country's National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.

The annual report, “Combating Human Trafficking in the UAE – 2008-09", highlights the country’s stand on the crime, efforts to counter it, progress made, obstacles encountered, and plans for the future. 

According to the report, over 20 cases were registered last year, as opposed to 10 cases in 2007. "This represents an 100 percent increase in registered cases compared to 2007, suggesting that the combating process is gradually, but surely, intensifying," the report said. 

The number of prosecutions and the severity of punishments prescribed by the UAE courts also increased significantly, the report said, adding that there were convictions in six cases, with two people receiving life sentence.

According to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash, “The UAE firmly stands against both the exploitation of human beings. The resolve to fight trafficking at home and abroad in collaboration with international partners remains central to the country's anti-trafficking strategy.”

Minister Gargash, who is also the chairman of the anti-trafficking committee, said “The UAE will continue to take a lead on this issue in the region and internationally, acknowledging the existence of human trafficking as a problem that afflicts our society, just as it does in many other countries." 

Specific measures associated with the UAE’s comprehensive four-pillar action plan – legislation, enforcement, victim support, bilateral agreements and international partnerships – are elaborated in the report.

Copies of the report can be obtained from the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs and the electronic version is available at www.mfnca.gov.ae and www.nccht.gov.ae. 

The report documents the steps taken to fight the crime, including establishing a human rights department by the Ministry of Interior; drive to improve worker conditions; conducting workshops for law enforcement officials in partnership with international institutions; launching an information and interactive website; and ratifying the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.

"We have accomplished a number of achievements in a short span of time, but we will continue to remain committed to consistently improving our efforts to tackle this crime in line with international best practices and our own values and belief system,” Dr Gargash said.

The UAE, the report said, would soon launch a media campaign to enhance public awareness about human trafficking, specifically at the UAE airports and embassies abroad.