Dubai Airport passport control
Dubai Airport passport control. For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Passengers arriving at Dubai airports will be part of a police drive to tackle human traffickers in a step to strengthen the efforts against the organised crime, a top official announced on Tuesday.

Brigadier Dr Mohammad Al Murr, Director-General of the General Directorate of Human Rights at Dubai Police, said the new effort aims to raise awareness among passengers about human trafficking and train airport employees on the different forms of the crime and how to identify victims and traffickers.

“Most human trafficking cases registered in the UAE are for sexual exploitation. We have coordination with countries of victims who enter the UAE with either fake or genuine passports after changing the age of the victims to bring them to the UAE. Human trafficking is a massive worldwide problem,” Brig Al Murr said at a press conference held at Dubai International. .

According to the latest report by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking in the UAE, 77 people accused of human trafficking were arrested in the country in 2018 in connection with 30 criminal cases, involving 51 victims.

This is a year-on-year increase of 60 per cent from 2017 when there were 48 arrests in 16 cases involving 28 victims.

Brig Al Murr said the UAE has made great inroads in containing the crime during recent years and had recorded zero crimes of trading human organs.

Dubai Police have launched a two-year campaign titled ‘Don’t close your eyes’ in cooperation with United Nations and other government departments on the World Day against Trafficking in Persons held on July 30.

“The Federal Law No 51 of 2006, amended in 2015, provides greater guarantees for victims of human trafficking. The tough punishment against traffickers, which can reach life in jail, helped contain the crime in the UAE. The country is focusing on training and capacity building of its officials in the field of combating human trafficking,” he said.

“We will train airport employees on how to identify victims arriving in the UAE and how to investigate human trafficking cases. Passengers will be educated through clip broadcasts at the airport and flyers in nine languages about human trafficking cases and how to report them,” added Brig Al Murr.

He said that with millions of visitors expected to use the airports by Expo2020, the campaign would reach more people to raise awareness.

Dr Poris Zenamski from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said that the UAE had a major role in battling human trafficking.

“Dubai Police have most efficient and advanced technology in fighting all sort of crimes. Human trafficking is an international crime, 75 per cent of human trafficking victims are women and children worldwide. The UN cooperation with UAE has helped bringing best practices in fighting the crime and exchanging the required skills,” Dr Zenamski said.

He urged passengers to open their eyes and report anything suspicious to the police which might help them foil a crime.

What is human trafficking?

Federal Law No 51 of 2006 defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, transportation or receipt of persons by means of threat or force or by coercion, kidnap, fraud, deceit, abuse of power, exploitation or the offer or receipt of money or inducements to secure the consent of a person who is in control of another for the purpose of exploitation. This includes all forms of sexual abuse, involuntary servitude, mistreatment, coercion and work force abuse, as well as the illegal trading of human organs”.

Victims are not only young girls who fall into the trap of sexual exploitation networks, but also include older women, men and children of all ages, who are exploited in forced labour, sexual exploitation and all other forms of this globally widespread crime.

Human trafficking is often confused with human smuggling, which is the organised, illegal movement of persons across international borders with their consent, in exchange for money. This concept of human smuggling is different, in the eyes of the law, from the other crimes of human trafficking, which fraudulently transfer and use victims in various forms of exploitation without their consent. Unlike smuggling, human trafficking may occur within or outside a state. Because some of the victims are caught in human traffickers’ nets during their search for better job opportunities outside their own country, it is possible that there is an overlap between human smuggling and trafficking crimes when human traffickers target those who seek to illegally get out of their countries.

To report a human trafficking crime or signs of it, call 8007283

In numbers

2018: 77 arrests, 30 cases, 51 victims

2017: 48 arrests, 16 cases, 28 victims