Dr Al Awadi and Dr Saeed Mohammad Al Gafli, Assistant Undersecretary for the Federal National Council Affairs, announce the Human Trafficking Report in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE has intensified the fight against human trafficking, resulting in a considerable drop in cases related to this crime across the country, said Dr Abdul Rahim Yousuf Al Awadi, Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs, today.

“The considerable drop in human trafficking cases last year was a result of intensified police campaigns against such crimes and the increase in awareness programmes,” Dr Al Awadi told a news conference as he launched the annual report on combating human trafficking in the UAE, on behalf of Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for FNC Affairs and Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.

“The fight against human trafficking has so far been encouraging. An indicator of the government’s success in fighting this crime is that cases involving human trafficking have come down significantly over the years — 19 during last year,” Dr Al Awadi said.

According to the report, 27 human trafficking-related cases were lodged by the Ministry of Interior, out of which the public prosecution treated 19 as human trafficking cases. These cases involved 25 victims and led to the arrest of 50 trafficking suspects.

In 2012, the Government referred to the prosecution 47 cases involving 149 human trafficking suspects. Ninety-one were convicted. Sentences ranged from a year to life imprisonment.

The highest number of human trafficking cases since records were kept in 2007 was 58 in 2010, according to the report.

Dr Al Awadi said the majority of the cases were not from the UAE and all the victims were trafficked from other countries.

He said the UAE took several significant steps last year including amending the federal law No 51 on human trafficking to ensure better protection for victims, establishing a fund to support victims of human trafficking and opening a new shelter in Abu Dhabi to deal with male victims of human trafficking.

The UAE’s strategy to fight human trafficking also includes educating people who are usually targeted in countries abroad, since victims are being trafficked from outside, he said citing awareness campaigns at various terminals of Dubai International Airport and international partnerships forged to enhance cooperation with the countries of origin to tackle the crime at source rather than deal with it only within the UAE’s borders.

Dr Al Awadi reiterated the UAE will remain proactively engaged in the global campaign against human trafficking, bringing to justice the criminals who victimise workers in the country.

“The UAE intends to extend the airport awareness programme to all the northern emirates and conduct a workshop to educate private sector businesses about human trafficking to enable these businesses to prevent instances of trafficking in the course of hiring workers,” Dr Al Awadi said.

He concluded that combating this crime is a goal the UAE Government shares with all nations and it will keep pace with international best practices in this endeavour.