Philippines investigates human trafficking cases

Philippines investigates human trafficking cases

The victims of human trafficking, who were repatriated from Dubai, will be investigated by the Task Force on Human Trafficking with the aim of providing them justice.

By Lily B. Libo-on, Mary Nammour & Amira Agarib

Published: Sun 13 Dec 2009, 8:45 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Apr 2015, 1:22 PM

The 12 victims were all met at the Manila airport by the task force and five women prosecutors, who initially met 27 human trafficking victims at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in Deira, Dubai, at the end of the international prosecution conference in Dubai on November 17.

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The first nine victims, who were repatriated on November 27, have already given statements to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) identifying their recruiters and the alleged pimps who forced them into prostitution in Dubai .

Michell F. (not her real name), one of the 27 trafficked victims, in her statement to women prosecutors and the National Bureau of Investigation said she came through the travel agency, Middle East Travel Agency, on a visit visa. She was recruited in Manila as a saleswoman in October this year, but ended up in the flesh trade.

“A lady who introduced herself as Lyla, public relations officer of my employer, came to meet me at the Dubai International Airport. From there, she whisked me away to a villa in Fujairah. That night they forced me into prostitution in the brothel where women of various nationalities were present,” said Michell.

She escaped on November 12 and sought refuge at POLO.

Earlier, three Filipinas, who were among a batch of six workers recruited in Manila to work as sales executives, but ended up in the prostitution den upon reaching the emirate, also came under the same travel sponsor.

The three – Lyn C., Ada T. and Amilyn L (not their real names) – escaped on the pretext of going out with customers.

They were among 27 women trafficked in November this year alone, who met prosecutors in POLO. Rest of the women are still at POLO, waiting for their tickets to home.

In their testimonies, they told the Philippine authorities that they were driven from the Dubai International Airport by a Bangladeshi man named Ashraf, who also was instrumental in bringing back to them their luggage and passports after they fled from the brothel to POLO.

They claimed that the driver knew the location of the brothel and the owner as he acted as courier.

Major-General Mohammed Ahmed Al Marri, head of the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Dubai, had told Khaleej Times earlier that the directorate had not yet been informed of the mission’s findings.

“None of the Philippine officials have contacted us in that regard,” Al Marri said.

Philippine officials said they had still not informed the Ministry of Interior of the reports but would do so once investigations are completed.

Philippine Consul-General in Dubai Benito B. Valeriano said, “Our first &responsibility is to protect the &lives of the victims, and bringing them back to Manila to pinpoint who recruited them and to testify in the court against the people involved in Manila and in Dubai. We would give a complete picture of the problem, which &may be later shared with the UAE authorities.”

Afra Al Basti, Director for the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, said that those who were subjected to human trafficking could reach officials through the hotlines dedicated to receiving the complaints, or through Dubai Police website and 999.

She said that the police should investigate the complaint to find out if the case is genuine.

Al Basti said some of those involved in prostitution claim they were subject to human trafficking, but UAE law does not classify all cases of prostitution as human trafficking.

She said that the police should first investigate the case and after that take legal action and provide care and assistance to the victims.

Prosecutor Elizabeth L. Bernal, one of the four who investigated their cases, told Khaleej Times in a telephonic conversation that housemaid Sherill’s was a classic example of human trafficking – a crime that should be stopped at any cost.

Sherill and eight others were met at the airport by five state prosecutors on the request of Labour Attache Virginia Calvez of POLO in Dubai .

They were taken to the National Bureau of Investigation for recording of their statements in which they identified the traffickers, including those who pushed them into prostitution in Dubai .

Prosecutor Marlette T. Balagtas-Ytem told Khaleej Times over the phone that Sherill and the other victims were now in a safe house of the Task Force on Human Trafficking to protect them from any possible retaliation by the traffickers.

She said keeping them in Manila would also help them financially as all of them were faced with financial constraints to support themselves during court hearings. “If they were recruited in their provinces, we would file the cases there to enable them to testify in the court without any financial expenses involved on their part. In most cases, witnesses of human trafficking were discouraged to pursue the cases because of lack of finances to appear in the courts in Manila.”.




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