Dubai: Human trafficking cases in Dubai increased 28 per cent in 2009 over the previous year, with 33 victims forced into prostitution and a case of an infant offered for sale.
Dubai Police Deputy Chief Major-General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina said the increase was due to the significant effort police made to combat human trafficking, in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and international organisations.
In 2006, human trafficking cases were only seven and shot up to 23 in 2007. The figure dropped in 2008 to 18 cases but rose again in 2009 to 23 cases.
Dubai Police said around 88 per cent of the victims were women. Of the 33 victims, 12 per cent were younger than 18, 53 per cent were 19 to 25 and 34 per cent were older than 26. An additional case of attempting to sell a baby was detected in 2009.
There were "absolutely no other cases of human trafficking such as selling of organs and enslavement," Maj Gen Al Mazeina said.
The majority of victims, around 58 per cent, had come from developing countries with low living standards and had only basic elementary education, he said.
Awareness was the key to fighting human trafficking, he said.
In 2009, 76 suspects were involved in 23 cases. Of those, 21 were committed by more than one suspect; 79 per cent were committed by men and 21 per cent by women.
In 2008 there were 69 suspects involved in 18 cases of human trafficking.
Of those, 14 cases were committed by more than one suspect; 55 per cent by women and 45 per cent by men.
A centre was set up early last year by the Dubai Police to monitor human trafficking, tackle the sex trade and respond to labour violations.
The General Department of Legal and Disciplinary Control Director-General Colonel Dr Mohammad Abdullah Al Murr said the centre implemented field studies and training, and acted globally to combat traffickers and provide necessary services for victims.
Maj Gen Al Mazeina said, "Our centre is the first of its kind established among Arab countries to tackle and combat human trafficking".
"This part of combating crimes requires teams and units specialised in combating human trafficking due to the sophistication and complications of these crimes such as being able to differentiate the nature of the crime from prostitution and providing support to the victim and able to arrest the entire network involved in these crimes," he said.
It was difficult for prosecutors to identify human trafficking, which could resemble prostitution.
He also called for investigation into how victims could enter the country on residence visas sponsored by UAE nationals.
Maj Gen Al Mazeina said the centre, with the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, in 2009 offered 36 victims of human trafficking psychological and legal support.
In 2006, human trafficking cases were only 7 and shot up to 23 cases in 2007. The figure dropped in 2008 to reach 18 cases and went up again in 2009 to 23 cases.