21 May 2020

Gargash launches annual human trafficking report, reaffirms UAE’s commitment to protecting human rights



During the launch of the Committee?s annual report for 2019, Dr. Anwar Gargash stressed the Committee’s continued efforts in light of the current pandemic and stakeholders? determination to provide all support to victims of human trafficking and alleviate their suffering.

As part of preventative efforts, Dr. Gargash pointed out that the relevant UAE authorities have exerted significant effort to implement awareness programmes for all segments of society and potential victims in particular, taking into account the country?s cultural diversity and hosting of different nationalities. As such, campaigns were launched in a number of key languages, reaching more than 1,436,971 people, particularly migrant workers and domestic helpers. Accordingly, concerned authorities, including the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, have focused on raising the public?s awareness of their rights as guaranteed by national legislation as a condition for the issuance of work permits.

Gargash stressed that one of the Committee?s priorities is the training of qualified specialists across different fields through programmes to equip them with the necessary technical and practical skills to address human trafficking cases and ensure the protection of victims. In 2019, 6,209 specialists were trained to identify victims of human trafficking to contribute to the implementation of the country?s legislation and international conventions ratified in this regard.

He noted that the Committee has also developed an anti-human trafficking diploma programme in its fifth session in cooperation with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The programme was the first specialised professional programme of its kind in the Arab world and is being implemented alongside some GCC members to encourage knowledge exchange and promote joint action between participants.

The minister went on to praise the efforts of UAE stakeholders in issuing the National Risk Assessment for Money Laundering, which aims to investigate a number of crimes, including human trafficking, and track and confiscate illegal funds linked to these crimes, ultimately making human trafficking less profitable and curbing its spread.

Regarding case statistics, Gargash confirmed that under Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 on Combating Human Trafficking Crimes and its amendments, the competent authorities and prosecutors identified 23 cases of human trafficking in 2019, which led to the referral of 67 accused to the judiciary. 41 victims of human trafficking were assisted as a result, representing a decrease in comparison with 30 cases the previous year. In certain cases, penalties amounted to life imprisonment and deportation, while some cases were still pending in courts.

In support of human trafficking victims, he stated that NCCHT secured AED 207,500 in financial assistance last year from the Human Trafficking Victims Support Fund. This represents one of the most important NCCHT initiatives supporting victims by funding their small projects, helping them complete their education, and ensuring they obtain employment in order to become financially independent, as poverty remains a central factor enabling the exploitation of victims in human trafficking cases. Since the initiative was launched in 2014, NCCHT has provided approximately AED 970,200 in total assistance.

Furthermore, he noted that NCCHT has signed seven memoranda of understanding to protect victims of human trafficking. The most recent MoU was with the Philippines. The Committee also held bilateral meetings to develop memoranda of understanding with India, Indonesia, and Thailand, contributing to the establishment of cooperative frameworks to exchange information and expertise.

Gargash concluded by underlining that the country has a wide range of policies and practices that enable it to combat human trafficking effectively through strong partnerships, stressing the UAE?s commitment to work at the national and international levels to combat this crime against human dignity and free its victims from exploitation.

Since 2008, NCCHT has issued this annual report, which highlights the efforts of relevant authorities in combating this crime through the national strategy based on five pillars: prevention, prosecution, punishment, protection of victims, and the promotion of international cooperation. /WAM