Dr. Gargash expressed happiness over the release of the Annual Report, describing it as an attempt by the Committee to record the progress of the initiative against human trafficking, identify obstacles and challenges encountered during the last year and spell out future initiatives.
“Today, we are happy to release the seventh Annual Report of this key government initiative against human trafficking as part of the Committee’s efforts to share information on this critical issue with the general public and the international community,” Gargash said.
The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking was established in 2007 to implement the national strategy to counter human trafficking after Federal Law No. 51 on Combating Human Trafficking became effective in the U.A.E. a year earlier.
“The government recognises that the more informed it is about the victims of trafficking and the sources of trafficking as well as the transit countries and methodologies practiced by traffickers, the more it can do to prevent this crime. This report therefore attempts to integrate the various processes involved in this effort,” Gargash said.
With effective action in place to counter human trafficking, the number of human trafficking cases in the U.A.E. has come down significantly over the years. The U.A.E. has also ensured that while victims are rescued and rehabilitated, perpetrators of such crimes are brought to justice.
According to the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, in 2013, 27 human trafficking-related cases were registered by the Ministry of Interior under Federal Law No. 51, out of which the Public Prosecution treated 19 as human trafficking cases. These cases involved 24 victims and led to the arrest of 50 traffickers. Compared to these 19 cases in 2013, there were 58 cases in 2010 and 47 in 2012.
Notably, the U.A.E. has also recorded a high conviction rate with 12 cases convicted in 2013, involving stiff penalties ranging from one year in jail to life imprisonment and fines, reflecting the robustness of the judicial system in the U.A.E..
“I am happy to state that this trend of high conviction rates has been maintained ever since Federal Law No. 51 on Combating Human Trafficking became effective. The numbers also suggest both growing awareness about human trafficking among the public and intensifying counter-measures adopted by various official agencies, ministries and non-government organisations involved in tackling this crime,”Gargash said.
“It is indeed heartening that the government agencies are becoming increasingly successful in disrupting the activities of several criminals and groups involved in human trafficking,” Gargash added.
A 5 Ps’ Strategy
The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking has implemented a 5 Ps’ strategy to fight the menace of trafficking. This strategy comprises Prevention, Prosecution, Punishment, Protection and Promotion of International Cooperation.
In the framework of this key strategy, the U.A.E. took several significant steps during the last year, which included amending Federal Law No. 51 to ensure better protection for victims, establishing a fund to support victims of human trafficking, proactively opening a new shelter in Abu Dhabi to deal with male victims of human trafficking, conducting a public awareness campaign at various terminals of the Dubai International Airport, and forging international partnerships and enhancing cooperation with the countries of origin to tackle the crime at source, rather than deal with it only within the U.A.E.’s borders.
The U.A.E. has also participated in several regional and international efforts to counter this crime and has been conducting regular workshops and training courses as part of the efforts to continuously improve the skills of law enforcement officials dealing with human trafficking.
In continuation of the anti-human trafficking strategy during 2014, the U.A.E. intends to adopt a number of measures. These include extending the airport awareness programme to all the northern emirates, conducting a workshop to educate the private sector about human trafficking and enabling companies in the sector to prevent instances of trafficking during the process of hiring workers.