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UAE delegation concludes discussion at Vienna forum on human trafficking

posted on 17/02/2008: 719 views

Vienna - A UAE delegation to the Vienna Forum on human trafficking led by Minister of State Dr. Anwar Gargash conclude a final round of panels and discussions with senior government and UN officials, NGO's and international experts on human trafficking. Dr. Gargash's speech at the plenary session on behalf of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi outlined the UAE's objectives behind their donation to the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Trafficking (UN.GIFT) to create a forum for the international community of experts in trafficking to exchange knowledge and expertise.

Following keynote statements by celebrities Ricky Martin and actress Emma Thompson who strongly support the forum, the UAE unveiled its four-pillared strategy to combat trafficking and called for greater international cooperation to tackle this growing transnational phenomenon. Minister Gargash stated: "The UAE is fully behind the creation of a global partnership to achieve our common goal to end trafficking in human beings. This is our shared responsibility and we convene here in Vienna to support all efforts towards this endeavour." During the course of the four day conference, the UAE delegation which comprised officials from the UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking including the ministries of Justice, Interior, Labour, Federal National Council Affairs as well as representatives from the police and also the non-governmental sector participated in a series of expert panels and discussions on key areas of human trafficking.

The conference kicked off with members of the delegation attending the Parliamentary Forum for over 100 parliamentarians from around the world to debate national legislation on trafficking. UAE delegates disseminated information on UAE Federal Law 51 to combat trafficking, the first of its kind in the region and gained insight into international and national legislations on this issue.

Delegates also participated in a number of sessions on a variety of areas, ranging from discussions on bonded labour, or modern day slavery, to the key tools required for the prevention of trafficking. The UAE affirmed its commitment to combat all forms of involuntary labour and outlined its full engagement in promoting bilateral partnerships among countries of labour origin and destination to prevent this crime at its source.

International co-operation formed a key theme throughout the panel discussions.

"The UAE is actively seeking to forge partnerships in all fields related to combating this terrible crime, particularly in the field of information sharing and cooperation," said Dr. Abdurahim Al- Awadi, Undersecretary Assistant for International Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Justice during a panel on criminal justice responses to human trafficking.

UAE delegates used the forum to initiate partnerships for knowledge exchanges and capacity building. Side meetings to the forum were held by Dr. Gargash and his team with a number of senior officials including the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Costa, heads of the human trafficking units at the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as well as the director of the Human Trafficking Centre in the United Kingdom (UKHTC) UAE law enforcement officers also held productive meetings with anti-corruption units and human trafficking experts to further learn from international experiences and best-practices, viewing demonstrations of the latest technology and software for combating trafficking.

On the humanitarian side, key partnerships were also forged between UAE shelters and their counterparts in other countries. Support and rehabilitation for all victims of trafficking forms a key component of the UAE national strategy.

"Trafficking is a cyclical crime that involves both receiving as well as source countries and a rehabilitation process for victims of trafficking cannot be effective without strong links at both the government and NGO level with other countries worldwide," stated Affra Al Basti, head of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children who was also part of the UAE delegation.

The recently launched Abu Dhabi shelter for victims of trafficking also connected to their global counterparts during the course of discussions particularly focusing on learning from international best practices and experiences. They were represented at the forum by a number of the shelter's board members as well as the UAE Red Crescent Authority which will serve as an umbrella organization for the establishment of further shelters in the UAE.

The final day of the Vienna Forum sees active participation by UAE delegates in the closing panel.

"We believe this was a highly successful event and that the UAE was an active catalyst in this admirable process through the gift of HH Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan," said Dr. Gargash, continuing: "The Vienna Forum served its purpose in bringing together all those who choose not to ignore the plight of the hundreds of thousands every year who suffer at the hands of exploitative criminals." "Without focusing on end statements or resolutions, the delegates to this forum were able to dedicate themselves fully to the topic and unite in intent and purpose in this important fight. We hope to see positive outcomes from UN.GIFT in the months ahead," he concluded. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


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