20 January 2010

Seven men get life terms for human trafficking in Abu Dhabi. Six others get 10 years for aiding prostitution

Abu Dhabi Criminal Court also ordered the Syrian men identified as SMA, AAA, AMA, MAA, AMQ, KAA and AAA, to be deported after serving their term.

They lured women to the UAE on the promise of high salaries and career opportunities, but later beat them and forced them into prostitution, according to court records.

Six other Syrian members of the ring were jailed for 10 years to be followed by deportation. They denied the charges of operating a human trafficking ring, but pleaded guilty to facilitating prostitution.

The women hoping for a good job get lured here only to find themselves enslaved in an underworld of prostitution, court records said.

Employment visas

They arranged employment visas for the women, welcomed them at the airport and provided them with luxury accommodation in villas. Then the women had their passport confiscated, put under lock-an-key, beaten, starved and forced into prostitution.

One woman managed to escape and led the police to other captive women, who had been brought over from Morocco.

The police caught some handlers as they locked a number of women in a flat.

A week later, two other women escaped and aided by neighbours they reported the ring to the police, who arrested more captors in another flat. Another member of the ring was caught at the airport as he was trying to flee the country.

Police investigation led to another villa, which was raided after a warrant was obtained from the prosecution. Prosecutors said the defendants violated human rights laws, defamed the country’s reputation, and trafficked women ? enslaving them for money.

The women testified they were intimidated and led to believe their captors were influential and well-connected with the police and other authorities. Lawyers for the defendants claimed the women came knowingly to Abu Dhabi to work as prostitutes.

An official source from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department praised the cooperation among the authorities, saying breaking this big ring of human trafficking attests to the security the emirate enjoys and the experience of its police in dealing with all forms of crimes.

The case is the latest to be tried under federal anti-trafficking legislation introduced in 2006 that specifies life imprisonment and fines of up to Dh1 million.