13 December 2010

UAE National Committee and Johns Hopkins co-host workshop on GCC human trafficking legislation

His Excellency Tarek Lootah, Secretary General of the Ministry of State for Federal National Council Affairs, inaugurated the workshop on behalf of His Excellency Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and chair of The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.

“This workshop has been organized to compare legislation in the GCC countries and to discuss how to unify efforts to eradicate human trafficking, which is a crime against mankind and is condemned by all religions and international norms,” said Mr Lootah. 

Lootah presented the UAE’s experience since passing the landmark Federal Law No. 51, the only law in the Arab world that prohibits human trafficking and subjects perpetrators to severe penalties.

Lootah said: “Human trafficking exists in countries around the world despite international norms prohibiting the practice. The fight against trafficking can not be won without national legislation and a comprehensive system to implement it.”

Following enactment of the UAE Federal Law 51, the Cabinet established the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking to oversee its implementation, also a landmark for the region. Dr Anwar Gargash chairs the intra-governmental committee that is also tasked with coordinating anti-trafficking measures, raising awareness, and facilitating victim rehabilitation.

Lootah said the UAE is approaching the scourge of human trafficking comprehensively, including regulating the labour sector, and training law enforcement officers. He specifically mentioned the role of the Dubai Police through its Human Rights Division in accelerating efforts to eradicate trafficking and the Dubai Woman and Child Foundation that was recently established and caters to victims of trafficking and other forms of violence.

Dr. Mohammad Mattar from Johns Hopkins University commended the UAE’s leadership on combating human trafficking, also acknowledged by the Council of Arab Justice Ministers. Mattar reminded participants of the Arab League’s call for states to pass anti-trafficking legislation. Mattar also highlighted the need for countries in the region to sign relevant international instruments such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its Protocol on human trafficking, which eleven Arab States have signed.

The UAE will continue to work toward regional cooperation and intends to expand its role internationally by sponsoring of the United Nation’s Vienna Forum to Fight Human Trafficking in February 2008.