UAE raises the bar on tackling human trafficking - GulfToday

UAE raises the bar on tackling human trafficking


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Like the coronavirus, human trafficking has hit many countries. About 25 million people worldwide approximately are reported to be victims of human trafficking. It is a multi-billion dollar business – trade in this sinful practice is worth $150 billion a year. The figures have been given by the UN International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The world is making an earnest effort to meet a UN goal of ending modern slavery by 2030.

The migrant issue is another factor to reckon with. Human rights groups have warned that mistreating migrants may drive them further into the shadows, leaving them prey to traffickers and increasing their risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Tightening and closing borders only makes things worse ... as it increases human trafficking,” a Japanese academic based in Britain has remarked.

However, there is a risk that the coronavirus could drive more people into forced labour or sexual exploitation. The United Nations has warned that the fallout of COVID-19 – from lockdowns and business closures to shut borders – could lead to such dire consequences, and mean victims are less likely to be rescued or receive support.

Global gains in tackling human trafficking in recent years must not be undone by the coronavirus pandemic, several experts said recently.

Countries should focus on prosecuting human traffickers to stop a surge in exploitation.

As far as nations go, the UAE has made a sterling contribution. The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, NCCHT, has intensified efforts to provide health and legal care to victims and support their psychological wellbeing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recently, Dr. Anwar Bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of NCCHT, stressed that the UAE is committed to strengthening and protecting victims of this crime and providing all forms of support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Committee has worked to help victims overcome many of the obstacles they may face in light of the spread of this pandemic in their home countries, considering the difficulty of returning home due to the closure of many countries’ airports as part of precautionary measures to reduce the virus’ spread,” Gargash said.

The NCCHT expressed appreciation for the support provided by the relevant UAE authorities to overcome current challenges, affirming that such backing contributed significantly to facilitating the operation of shelters for victims, from their initial intake to their eventual departure.

It is worth noting that these shelters implemented all possible precautionary measures to protect victims and staff. Moreover, they have provided medical services in cooperation with health authorities and have been staffed with medical professionals around the clock.

Even the police forces have not lagged behind. The Dubai Police announced the start of the sixth edition of the “specialists in combating human trafficking” programme, which will be held virtually over five months, in cooperation with the Dubai Judicial Institute, the National Committee to Combat Human trafficking and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC.

The programme will prepare qualified personnel from the UAE law enforcement agencies to gain investigation skills and latest methods in detecting human trafficking rings.

The sixth edition of the programme will involve 91 recruits from 30 authorities ranging from police departments, local and federal prosecution authorities, the Emirates Human Rights Association, Dubai Airports, and national women’s and children’s care centres, in addition to 24 participants from Saudi Arabia, two from Bahrain, five from the GCC Police Department, and four from Oman and Kuwait.

The programme is the first of its kind in the Arab region and will take place over five weeks totalling 110 training hours.

The UAE is keen on reducing the suffering of human trafficking victims, reinforcing and protecting their rights. What will help the country immensely is its resilience in facing challenges.

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