Police urge Filipino expat community to help fight human trafficking
Dubai - Police told the office-bearers of various Filipino organisations to report any forms of human trafficking to authorities.
The Dubai Police have called on leaders of the Filipino expat community to help in its efforts to combat human trafficking locally and to enhance the UAE's role in eliminating cross-border human trafficking crimes.
At a town hall meeting conducted at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai on Monday, First-Lt Rashid Nasser Ali from the General Department of Human Rights at the Dubai Police, told the office-bearers of various Filipino organisations to report any forms of human trafficking to authorities.
"Immediately call the police. Dial 999. Remove the fear of calling the police, do not hesitate to communicate with the police - they are your friends," Ali said.
Ali noted that human trafficking "refers to situations where persons are coerced to work through the use of violence or intimidation, or by coercive means such as indebtedness, confiscation of identity papers and threats of denunciation to police and immigration authorities".
"The first thing that human traffickers do is to instil fear that the police will detain the victims," Ali explained. "But we are here to protect human rights and help anyone from all forms of human trafficking."
Ali said that in many cases, victims of human trafficking have expired visas. "They are told not to go to the police and they are made to think that the police will arrest them and that Immigration will deport them. But this is not true because the UAE has high standards for human rights. We have rehabilitation programmes and we provide legal protection," he underlined.
Ali noted that many of the victims of human trafficking come from poor backgrounds.
"They are mostly from the villages and their educational level is minimal. They come here with a promise of a good life. They enter the country with tourist or visit visa and then are only exploited," he said.
He added that human trafficking starts from the country of origin, particularly during the recruitment and deployment stage.
"My advice is to tell your kababayans (countrymen) not to come here with a tourist or visit visa if they are looking for work."
"If there is a job offer, there should be an employment visa. If you are contracted from the Philippines, make sure that there is a genuine contract and offer letter. Otherwise, you will be vulnerable and might become a victim of human trafficking."
Other advice that Ali gave are: "Not to sign any cheque that will put a jobseeker under pressure; make sure the passport issued is not fake and that the recruitment agency is accredited by the government.
Ali said the Dubai Police are strengthening its campaign against human trafficking by engaging the expat communities and the meeting with the Filipino community is the first in a series of town hall meeting and educational seminars.
UAE law against human trafficking
> Federal Law No. 51 of 2006 as amended by Federal Law No.1 of 2015 stipulates that human trafficking includes all forms of sexual exploitation, engaging others in prostitution, servitude, forced labour, organ-trafficking, coerced service, enslavement, begging and quasi-slavery practices.
The law raises awareness of the crime, helps the victims, as well as protects victims and eyewitnesses. It stipulates a minimum fine of Dh100,000 and a minimum of five years in jail for offenders.
UAE's initiatives to combat human trafficking
> The creation of National Committee for Combatting Human Trafficking in 2007 was to coordinate efforts and enforce plans to combat human trafficking at various levels in all the seven emirates of the federation. The committee includes 18 representatives from various federal and local institutions.
> Establishment of Ewa'a Shelters for women and children victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
In Dubai, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) is the first licensed non-profit shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, abuse and human trafficking in the UAE. Established in July, the foundation provides free services to women and children who are victims of violence. It offers a helpline, safe shelter, case management, medical care, psychological support, counselling and legal, consular and immigration assistance.
In Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Police look after victims of human trafficking. They render all necessary support in coordination and cooperation with various relevant institutions.
There is also the General Directorate for Human Rights Protection that works under the supervision of Dubai Police and provides psychological, social and legal support to women and children who are victims of human trafficking. The Directorate provides victims with support such as temporary shelter, temporary visas and air tickets to return to their homelands.
> Important number: 999 to report all forms of human trafficking to Dubai Police