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Gargash sheds light on UAE's efforts to combat human-trafficking

posted on 23/03/2010: 958 views

Doha - Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the UAE National Committee to Combat Trafficking presented a working paper on UAE's efforts to combat human trafficking at the Anti-Human Trafficking Forum in Doha.

The Forum that precedes the founding Declaration of the Arab initiative to build national capacity in Arab countries in the field of combating trafficking in human beings.

Over 500 officials, scholars and experts from various countries and human rights organisations are participating in the Forum in the Qatari capital along with representatives from international organisations such as UNICEF, UNESCO, the International Organisation for Migration, the International Labour Organisation, the World Health Organisation, the European Commission, the European Union, Interpol and Europol.

The working paper that shed light on the country's relentless efforts in the fight against this transboundary crime said that UAE is revered a responsible member of the international community and has set a goal to occupy the leading position in the global efforts to combat trafficking in human beings.

"UAE is determined to combat this scourge, both at home and abroad in cooperation with international partners", Gargash said.

Our participation in this forum comes within the framework of exchanging efforts with our partners and promoting dialogue and sharing of expertise available in the fight against such crime that devastates human civilisation, Gargash added.

As part of the national and international strategies to combat human-trafficking UAE has ratified by the Convention on Transnational Organised Crime in 2000, and the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, known as 'Palermo Protocol 2008', one of the two Protocols annexed to the Convention on Organised Crime.

Moreover, the UAE is keen to adopt all measures to combat trafficking in human beings, especially women and children as consistent with the internationally recognised principles of non-discrimination. The country, in its efforts, upholds the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms of the victims of this transboudary crime, noted the paper.

The Paper said that UAE is working on the implementation of a strategy based on four pillars, which are:

• The development of legislation and laws related to the issues of trafficking in human beings.

• Empowerment of stakeholders for the application of preventive and deterrent measures.

• Provision of protection and support for those affected by this type of crime.

• Expansion of the horizons of bilateral and international cooperation to combat these crimes.

A Cabinet order established the UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking in April 2007 to give teeth to Federal Law 51 and to create a coordinating body for anti-human trafficking efforts at all levels in the seven emirates of the federation. The Committee has held several meetings since its formation in addition to frequent activities, visits and organised events and workshops. Its members include representatives from the federal ministries of interior, foreign affairs, labour, health and social affairs, as well as from the State Security Authority and the UAE Red Crescent Society.

The paper said that the responsibilities of the Committee include:.

Developing the framework by which the new anti-human trafficking law will be implemented. The Committee regularly assesses government implementation procedures and assists in the coordination of government ministries and departments concerned with eliminating human trafficking crimes.

This coordinating role is important in a federal system and reflects an increased emphasis throughout the UAE on collaborative efforts by local and federal government authorities to monitor and track incidents of human trafficking Studying and revising human trafficking legislation with the aim of bringing the UAE efforts in line with international standards and improving national legislation with the experience of realties on the ground.

The committee has been authorised to prepare reports on efforts taken by the UAE to fight human trafficking and to make recommendations to the Cabinet.

Creating resources to increase public awareness of human trafficking issues.

Develop victim sensitivity training for the relevant bodies and individuals dealing with victims of trafficking represent the UAE officially in handling international requests, enquiries, and delegations related to human trafficking issues.

It is expected that the Committee's activities will encourage additionally progressive and aggressive legislative efforts to assure country-wide conformance with international standards and implementation of the laws that are in place.

The committee is also tasked with studying and updating legislations which regulate matters involving human trafficking in order to ensure the necessary protection for them according to international requirements.

Other duties of the committee includes:.

Preparing reports about measures taken by the State to control human trafficking in coordination with the competent authorities in the country.

Studying reports involving human trafficking and take the relevant necessary measures.

Coordinating between the State's different authorities such as ministries, departments, corporations and establishments in relation to control of human trafficking, and monitor actions taken in this regard.

Raising awareness about matters involving human trafficking by organising conferences, seminars, publications, training and by other means in accomplishment of the Committee's objects.

Participating, with related parties in the UAE, in international conferences and forums involving control of human trafficking and communicating the UAE's point of view through these international forums.

The wide ranging paper also shed light on the punitive measures UAE has adopted against those who are convicted of human trafficking and noted that during the last three years a total number of 68 cases were decided by courts of law. A total number of 125 suspects were tried for related crimes and those convicted were given prison terms reaching up to ten years; the paper noted.

The paper also made special mention of the UAE's efforts to improve the conditions of foreign labour and protect their rights. In this regard, the paper noted the transfer of workers' wages through the unified electronic system called the Wage Protection System (WPS).

The paper gave a detailed description of the efforts of the country in the area of the Victim Support.

To ensure that these unequivocally resolute legislation and enforcement mechanism have a human face, the UAE's holistic approach includes significant initiatives that determine how victims are treated by law enforcement officials, as well as expand the help and welfare programs available to them. The programs are designed to be prompt and just, said the paper.

The government has a healthy track record of providing assistance and protection to victims of sexual abuse. The police departments provide shelter for these victims and counselling. The government works with foreign governments and NGOs when cases are brought to its attention. Victims have been given protective places until they get the right documents, and are then repatriated at the government's expense under the ‘Crime Victim Assistance Program'. Aside from government-headed initiatives, charitable and social networks are also active.

Some of the significant measures in this regard are:.

Foundation for the Protection of Women and Children: This independent civil society institution in Dubai was established in 2007. The shelter is the first step towards institutionalising victim support and is in line with international standards.

Human Rights Care Department, Dubai: Providing social, legal and psychological support to the women and children who fall prey to human traffickers are the goals of the Human Rights Care Department, which was established by Dubai Police in 2007 as an extension of a program established in 2003. The investigation, legal assistance and preventive support divisions fulfil the mandate of the department.

Abu Dhabi Shelter for Victims of Human Trafficking: The government has supported the establishment of a new shelter in the capital city of Abu Dhabi in January 2008. The shelter will be established in accordance with international standards and best practices.

Country-wide shelters program: The Red Crescent Authority supervises efforts to set up shelters across the country for women and children, who are victims of human trafficking using the Abu Dhabi model as a prototype. The comprehensive homes will provide them a haven with healthcare, as well as psychological and social support. The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking aims to learn from the case profiles that are brought to the shelter in order to improve the UAE's policies and legislation.

The paper also noted several agreements UAE has signed with various countries to combat human trafficking.

It also said that UAE pioneered several efforts in the region in the area of fighting the menace of human trafficking.

UAE has come a long way in a short period of time but is aware it still has a lot of work to address this problem and is committed to work effectively.

UAE will continue to move forward through the improvement of its strategic plan which is based on four pillars.

It will also continue to welcome cooperation with other governments, intergovernmental organisations and non-governmental organisations and international bodies to assist in the eradication of the crime of trafficking in human beings, said the paper. – Emirates News Agency, WAM


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