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Mohammed bin Zayed's contribution to anti human trafficking lauded

posted on 15/02/2008: 2237 views



Vienna - UAE State Minister of the Federal National Council Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Al Gargash, announced that General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has donated US$15 million to the Global Initiative to fight human trafficking.

Addressing United Nations' forum for the Global initiative to human trafficking in Vienna, Gargash said that "the donation is in line with respect to human dignity and care given by the UAE to the anti human trafficking efforts".

He added that the UAE is determined to fight the human trafficking crime and eradicate it in the country, reiterating the commitment of UAE, which was reflected by the donation of Sheikh Mohammed.

"The donation is in line with conviction of the UAE on setting up of a forum which includes countries, UN agencies, governmental agencies and non-governmental sector to work together under one umbrella to create unprecedented cooperation in the international community", Gargash remarked.

He underscored that such forums are exemplary to discuss the human trafficking related challenges, stating the UAE's attitude towards this heinous crime and efforts exerted to root it out.

Gargash noted that the UAE "has shown its commitment to combat the human trafficking and eradicate it through endorsing the international human rights agreements, which focus on woman and child rights. It has also taken a number of political and legislative measures to combat the human trafficking".

He noted that like many world countries, the UAE suffers some forms of human trafficking, which the country has recognised as one of the despicable crimes, and hence, it is obliged to fight it through four-point strategy: punishable crime, enforcement of law, supporting victims and international cooperation.

The minister said that "the human trafficking surpasses national borders and mainly spurred by social and economical differences. Though deterring punishment and international cooperation are essential elements in fighting the human trafficking, tackling the root causes of the problem is extremely important".

He added that no country can alone eradicate the human trafficking; therefore, source and destination countries of such human trade require to cooperate, indicating that the UAE will cooperate with the regional and international authorities to track down the human trafficking perpetrators.

The forum hailed the initiatives of the UAE in the anti human trafficking efforts.

William Costa, executive director of UN Crime and Drug office, commended in his inaugural speech the donation of Sheikh Mohammed.

The UAE's anti human trafficking strategy was highly received by the participants at the Vienna forum due to its clarity and followed support of Sheikh Mohammed to the UN anti human trafficking initiative.

The UAE anti-trafficking legislation was the first of its kind in the Arab World. Issued in November 2006, Federal Law No. 51 for 2006 defined trafficking in persons as one of elements of organised crime. The law dealt with all forms of the crime, including explicit servitude, sexual exploitation, child forced labour and the removal of and trade in human organs.

The 16-article law spelled out stiff penalties against traffickers ranging from one year to a life sentence in prison and financial fines of up to one million UAE dirhams (US $ 272,500) In April 2007, the Federal UAE Cabinet created the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 51. The committee has a dual mandate. The first part is to coordinate between competent federal ministries and local departments to eliminate crimes related to trafficking in persons on the UAE.

The second mandate is to work for strict enforcement of the law and its provisions in full, to review anti-human trafficking legislations and the possible provision of necessary protection in accordance with international standards.

The Committee is also responsible for raising public awareness about the crime of human trafficking and for launching programmes for the protection and rehabilitation of victims Ten cases involving trafficking in persons have been registered so far in the UAE as a result of the enforcement of the law. Traffickers in five cases were convicted, two of them being given jail terms from three years to ten years.

To ensure proper implementation of the measures stipulated by the law, the government has conducted focused training workshops for law enforcement officials, including public prosecutors and judges. A series of training programmes will be held to discuss a variety of related topics, including the security risks associated with trafficking in persons and human rights issues.

Dr Gargash, who is the head of the UAE NCCHT, has explained that : 'The Government of the UAE is paying the proper attention to monitoring and preventing of any abuses of its expatriate workforce as part of its efforts to prosecute traffickers. A wide range of measures taken by the Government have been paying off and are having a positive impact in the work environment in the country.

He explained that introduction of the e-wage payment system, whereby employers must pay salaries monthly into banks, the regular inspection of workers' accommodation and the implementation of unified employment contract for domestic helpers since April 2007 were just few examples of achievements in this respect.

A third mandate for the NCCHT, he said, envisaged the development of a comprehensive system to support and rehabilitate the gictoms of human trafficking.

'We are committed to introduce programmes that provide proper, prompt and equal care for those victims and, towards this end, we will mobilise all our financial and human resources,' he said.

'The Government of the UAE has a bright record in regards to the delivery of assistance and protection to victims of exploitation. Victims are housed in special safe shelters in cooperation with police forces,' he said.

He added that the government is also cooperating with foreign governments and non-governmental organisations when it received notification of cases of human trafficking.

The victims of these cases, he added, have been housed in safe shelters before being returned to their home countries.

He said that several charity organisations and social networks are also active in this field along with national initiatives like the Dubai Women's and Children's Charity Foundation, a special charitable body to care for victims of domestic violence and abuse.

The UAE Red Crescent Authority (UAE RCA) in collaboration with the UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, has opened a new centre in Abu Dhabi for sheltering women and children who are victims of human trafficking and other forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Minister also said that the NCCHT now has a fourth mandated duty, this being focussed on the enhancement of international cooperation through concluding bilateral partnerships and agreements. A number of agreements have been signed with countries who supply labour to the UAE.

In May 2007, the UAE ratified the UN Trans-national Organised Crime Convention, which calls for international cooperation in efforts to combat the crime of human trafficking.

'The UAE is in the process of ratifying a protocol on trafficking in persons. We also plan to play a proactive role in forging new constructive international initiatives like the Vienna-based UN.GIFT - (the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) and to support other relevant international conventions,' Gargash concluded. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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