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UAE’s Anti-Human Trafficking Initiatives

Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the pioneer in the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) and
Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to take diversified but integrated policies to curb
increasing menace of human trafficking. UAE has already promulgated various legislations to
make its soil free from any kind of human trafficking which is indeed an inhumane practice.
Right from the beginning, the UAE’s government has been rigorously participating in the global
efforts to combat human trafficking. It has been working closely with international and regional
law enforcement officials/organizations to detain and punish violators of human trafficking
laws.  The UAE being the icon of humanity, compassion and respect of ethnic diversity is also
deeply concerned about the victims of this crime and their physical and emotional well-being,
and is establishing appropriate mechanisms to support and assist victims in need.
The UAE has been aggressively implementing a four-part anti-trafficking plan, designed to
prevent the crime, enforce the law and provide necessary support to victims.
The Mother of UAE H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak always affirms the role of the UAE in
carrying out its humanitarian responsibilities to the victims of human trafficking. The UAE have
named the persons with disabilities as persons with determination.
H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union (GWU),
President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, and Supreme Chairwoman of
the Family Development Foundation (FDF), which is the Supervisory Body of the Ewaa Shelters
for Victims of Human Trafficking, has donated for a number of male victims of people of
determination of human trafficking, who have been accommodated in the shelters and have been
authorised by the competent court to have their case heard for the possibility of them returning
home after judgment.
Sheikha Fatima, Mother of the Nation always supported them to lead a new life as part of her
noble humanitarian role in the country and abroad. The Ewaa Shelters for Victims of Human
Trafficking praised the donation of Sheikha Fatima, which will have the best impact on the
victims by easing their suffering and help them go back to their countries and start a better life.
The shelters also stressed that this is not new to Sheikha Fatima as she has always supported
victims of human trafficking to help them overcome their situation and meet their basic
requirements of life, including the ownership of small projects, which they expressed would
assist them to meet the needs of their families.
Most recently, (February 2019) Guy Ryder, Director-General of International Labour
Organisaion (ILO) has commended the UAE's efforts in fighting human trafficking. Ryder said
the ILO shares the UAE successes in fighting human trafficking and regulating labour market
with other countries. "The UAE is a role model for making positive efforts in this respect. If we
are not regulating employment procedures effectively, these people can be vulnerable," he added.

He underlined on the necessity of global cooperation in fighting human trafficking.
According to latest report (2018) the UAE has taken all possible measures to eliminate
trafficking. The government has demonstrated increasing efforts compared to all the regional
countries. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by enacting a new domestic worker
law intended to expand legal protections to this vulnerable population and opening specialized
centers run by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MOHRE) to regulate
domestic worker recruitment and safeguard the terms of employment. In addition, it continued to
generate anti-trafficking awareness country-wide and funded and implemented its national action
plan to combat trafficking. Dr Gargash stressed the UAE will continue to prove its determination
and acknowledge where it needs to improve. There has been decrease in number of human
traffickers arrested in 2017, compared to 106 arrests made in 2016 in connection with 25 cases
involving 34 victims.
Dr Gargash added that UAE will continue to cooperate with all appropriate regional and
international law enforcement officials to apprehend, prosecute and punish those violating the
UAE’s human trafficking law and those attempting to use the country as a channel to violate
anti-trafficking laws of other countries.
He said that the UAE has launched an official campaign to contain this crime through the
issuance of Federal Law No. (51) of 2006, amended in 2015 to provide greater guarantees for
victims of human trafficking.
“The UAE will strive to focus its energies and potential on training its officials in the field of
combating human trafficking, as well as improving partnership between the public and private
sectors. It will also enhance cooperation with other international partners to improve
coordination and learn from their best practices,” Dr Gargash said.
Dr Gargash added that UAE emphasises its commitment to combating all activities of human
trafficking, given that it is a crime against humanity and because it represents a threat to the
values of our and other societies. Fighting against such crime must be a common goal for all the
governments of the world.
Dr Gargash reiterated the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking is working hard on
every element in its ‘5 Ps’ strategy Prevention, Prosecution, Punishment, Protection and
Promotion (of international cooperation).
The formation of the Anti-Human Trafficking Panel, will coordinate action with authorities, care
for victims and update legislation, in the the Labour of Ministry, added.
On its part, the UAE government adopted a new federal law providing strict enforcement
provisions and penalties for convicted traffickers in November 2006. Subsequently, the UAE
National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking was formed. The committee coordinated
anti-trafficking efforts at all levels in the seven Emirates of the Federation. The United Nations
forum appreciated the UAE is “the first government in the Gulf to enact a comprehensive anti-
trafficking law.”

The UAE’s commitments are in accordance with the International Convention on the Elimination
of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, the
UAE ratified the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially
Women and Children, in 2008.
The UAE is taking all possible measures to increase law enforcement capacity and awareness.
Steps include training and workshops for police officers and public prosecutors and developing
mechanisms to monitor and track human rights abuses.  In addition, the UAE has held several
training sessions with various law enforcement departments and ministries, focusing on the
prevention of human trafficking, security and the enforcement of laws. Moreover, the UAE
courts also accountability mechanism. There were six convictions in 2008, compared to five in
2007. In 2007, jail terms for those convictions ranged from three to 10 years, while in 2008, two
people received life sentences for their crimes.
Furthermore, new visa regime aimed at curbing illegal recruitment was announced in July 2008.
In November 2008, Abu Dhabi Police discovered and obstructed an attempt by an international
organized crime ring to traffic persons to Europe via the UAE’s airports.
Police are tracking tourist companies that illegally bring women into the country.  The licenses
of companies caught carrying out illegal activities are being cancelled. At least two nightclubs
exploiting women were shut down in 2007, and several others are under surveillance. The
number of legal cases prosecuted in the UAE involving prostitution rose by 30 percent from
2006 to 2007.
Recent  improvements in labor standards  and regulations will have a positive impact on
decreasing the scale of human trafficking. Steps include electronic payments to workers,
standards for housing, a standard contract for domestic workers and bilateral agreements with
supplier countries.

UAE Ambassador H.E. Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Al Zaabi, to Pakistan, while addressing to
symposium titled “Standing together to support victims of Human Trafficking shared that
Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates are discussing an agreement to combat human trafficking
which will be carried forward by Pakistan’s human rights ministry and UAE’s official Ewaa
Shelters program. The UAE is seeking to collaborate with Pakistan against human trafficking
and announced its government’s support for its victims. Both countries are going to ink a
memorandum of understanding.
There are a lot of international and human rights pressures on Pakistan as well as the UAE,”
Kiani said. “They have done a good job to meet those expectations. They are more focused and
we have to look after our people as well.”
During his keynote address at the symposium, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Jarman, the deputy
head of the UAE’s national committee to combat human trafficking, said the UAE was
committed to combating human trafficking. He said the country had taken strict measures toward

the prevention of trade in people and to prosecute traffickers by working with international
organizations and several countries.
In the recent past, the UAE pledged $100,000 financial support to the United Nations Voluntary
Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. The UAE
welcomed the adoption of the declaration on the implementation of the global plan of action to
combat trafficking in persons, and pledged that it will continue collaborating with the
international community in exchanging resources and statistics to develop best practices and
expertise in this regard.
The UAE expressed its support for the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in
Persons, emphasising the importance and effectiveness of the endeavour in addressing the global
issue. The UAE recalled its commitments to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised
Crime in 2007, Palermo Protocol in 2008, and the Group of Friends United against Trafficking in
Persons at the United Nations.
The UAE emphasized that trafficking in persons is a blatant violation of human rights, and it
disregards human, religious, and cultural values. The UAE also highlighted the domestic
initiatives and legal frameworks used in addressing the issue of combating trafficking in persons.
As a nation which receives a significant number of temporary workers of different nationalities
each year, the UAE is committed to combating this crime and countering criminal groups that
perpetrate such activity.
In 2006, the UAE started a comprehensive anti-trafficking campaign and issued a federal law on
combating trafficking in persons, which was amended in 2015 to provide greater guarantees for
victims of human trafficking in line with the Palermo Protocol.
In 2008, the UAE established the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking Crimes
consisting of representatives from government agencies concerned and civil society
organisations to coordinate efforts to combat human trafficking crimes, strengthen strategic plans
at various levels, and enable the authorities to enforce laws and implement preventive and
deterrent measures.
The National Committee’s efforts have led to the adoption of the national strategy to counter
trafficking focused on: prevention and prohibition, prosecution and punishment, protection and
support of victims of human trafficking, and the promotion of international cooperation, all in
line with the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
UAE started a diploma program on anti-trafficking to address the crime of human trafficking
using a scientific approach, the role of national law enforcement agencies, as well as
rehabilitation resources for victims of trafficking and facilitation of their residency or
resettlement while ensuring their safety and security.
“The UAE has become regional leader and vocal global supporter to the Global UN Plan of
Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, and several global initiatives to combat trafficking in
persons. The UAE endeavours to strengthen its bilateral and multilateral cooperation with
member states and inter-governmental organisations in dealing with human rights issues,
employment, migration, crime, and drugs.

UAE had also developed an understanding with nations in Asia most affected by human
trafficking and could share its experience and expertise with Pakistan to help improve
identification and prevention.
The UAE has also developed charitable and social networks to provide support for victims of
trafficking.  Dubai’s Foundation for the Protection of Women and Children provides social
services for victims, including counseling, in-house schooling, and recreation facilities.  Between
2007 and 2008, the foundation supported 115 women and children, including 43 suspected
victims of trafficking.  Working with organizations such as the International Organization for
Migration, some women have been repatriated to their home countries.
The UAE Red Crescent Authority, the Shelter for Women and Children in Abu Dhabi was
opened in 2008. The Red Crescent, part of the International Committee of the Red Cross, is
supervising shelters across the UAE for women and children. The Social Support Center of the
Abu Dhabi Police and the Human Rights Care Department of Dubai Police are also taking all
possible steps to help the victims. For further strengthening of its persuasions against human
trafficking the UAE has signed agreements with several labor-exporting countries to regulate the
flow of the workforce. In order to deny unscrupulous private recruitment agencies from cheating
and trafficking workers, all labor contract transactions will be processed by labor ministries or
offices in the supplying countries.
Since 2005, the UAE has worked closely with UNICEF on the repatriation of several hundred
young children who once worked as camel jockeys in the UAE. The UAE government
implemented a law banning camel jockeys under the age of 18 and authorized strict penalties of
fines and up to three years in jail for breaches of the act.
By September 2006 more than 1,000 underage jockeys had been successfully repatriated to their
home countries, where they were provided with social services, education, health care and
compensation. In December 2006 the UAE government set aside more than $9 million for a
second phase of the UNICEF program, which provided compensation for anyone who had ever
worked as an underage camel jockey in the UAE. As a follow-up measure, the UAE committed
$8 million for the establishment of monitoring mechanisms to prevent children formerly
involved in camel racing from re-entering hazardous or exploitative labor.
UNICEF officials have publicly praised the UAE camel jockey repatriation program and held it
up as a model for other countries to follow.
The UAE established stringent contract standards for domestic workers, which became effective
in April 2007.  These standards govern working conditions, vacation, air tickets, medical care
and salary, ensuring that the labor rights of domestic workers are standardized and protected
across the UAE.  Government agencies are required to enforce the new contract when issuing
new work visas, ensuring that the standards are upheld in all individual agreements.

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