The Human Trafficking Conference held at JW Marriott Marquis Hotel, Shaikh Zayed Road. Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/Gulf News

Dubai: Labourers or workers that have been recruited through a recruiting agency to the UAE are most at risk of human trafficking in the trial period — temporary work — and during change of sponsorship, a speaker at the conference said.

Sultan Bin Juwe’ed, Presiding Judge of the Court of Appeal and member of the Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, said that this period is unclear and has no clear regulations and this needs to be fixed.

“The labourer is most vulnerable in these periods, because it is unclear whose responsibility he is, who should he seek for help, how will he stay in the country. These issues need to be clear.”

He said that before recruiting and mediation companies existed, companies used to deal directly with the people it was recruiting.

“Now that there are those agencies, this is no longer the case, so these agencies have responsibilities towards the workers. In other words, it is their job to protect the workers from being abused,” He said.

Maher Hamad Al Obaid, Undersecretary of Inspection at the Ministry of Labour and member of the Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, who also spoke at the conference, said that the Ministry of Labour has put multiple mechanisms and initiatives in place to ensure the rights of labourers are protected.

“The ministry has signed nine international agreements with the International Labour Organisation that aim to preserve the rights and dignity of labourers,” He said.

The ministry also created a special department to combat human trafficking as well as trained 35 of the ministry’s 370 inspectors in how to identify human trafficking cases. “We aim to increase this number over time.”

“We have also launched a trial phase of a portal that will be launched early next year that allows recruitment agencies to put information on job vacancies and also information of people they already have. This portal can be accessed by job seekers and companies and will include only companies that have a good track record with the ministry. We are hoping this will reduce the possibility of human trafficking crimes taking place,” Al Obaid said.

He said the ministry had also launched a call centre years ago, to receive all complaints, an online portal that allows people to send their complaints and created care centres in all labour accommodations that can help labourers facing problems.

This is in addition to the ministry’s Wages Protection System, where people can complain if their wages are late. An inspector is sent to the complainant’s company to investigate the matter.