Human trafficking cases double in UAE, government toughens action
Abu Dhabi - 77 traffickers were prosecuted during 2018 and 10 of them were sentenced to life in prison.
The number of human trafficking cases in the UAE almost doubled during 2018, compared to the previous year, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The annual report of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, which was released on Monday, said 30 cases of human trafficking involving 51 victims were reported last year compared to 16 cases that involved 28 victims, registered in 2017.
According to the latest report, 22 of the cases reported last year were related to "sexual exploitation" while six cases involved sale of humans. Two cases were related to forced labour and begging.
Authorities said 77 traffickers were prosecuted during 2018 and 10 of them were sentenced to life in prison.
Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, said though there was an increase in human tracking cases, the large number of traffickers prosecuted last year highlighted the UAE's efforts in combating human trafficking and the commitment to promoting and protecting human rights.
"The UAE has, over the past decade, been working tirelessly to combat human trafficking through strategic plans at various levels through enforcing laws and implementing preventive and deterrent measures, in coordination with international partners," Gargash said while releasing the report in Abu Dhabi.
"On a national level, our authorities, with support from the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, have conducted several awareness campaigns targeting all members of the society, particularly groups who are most at risk."
"Last year, over 620 government employees including lawyers, security officers, policemen, judicial officials and others have received training to increase understanding of human trafficking, and to protect those exploited by human traffickers."
Gargash noted that these and other initiatives have greatly enhanced cooperation between law enforcement officials and other stakeholders, who are working together effectively to fight human trafficking.
According to authorities, campaigns to raise awareness among the public has reached about 240,000 people across the UAE.
The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking has also helped the victims of human trafficking through giving them shelter and providing them with healthcare services.
"Some victims have been rehabilitated and integrated into the society while majority have been helped to return to their home countries," said Dr Gargash.
He noted that poverty and unemployment are the most common causes of human trafficking as many victims are being lured with good jobs into leaving their countries but end up being exploited.
Last year, the committee spent $230,000 (Dh844,000) for supporting victims - helping them find new lives and pay debts and in rehabilitating them, according to Dr Gargash.