Measures to protect human rights in UAE
The UAE has introduced major reforms to ensure protection of housemaids, the most vulnerable section of the blue collar category.
Geneva - Concrete steps have been taken to provide assistance to the victims of trafficking.
Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, presented details of actions taken to promote human rights in the country, including human trafficking, labour rights and the empowerment of women, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.
The report also listed actions taken by a number of federal and local ministries and departments. The Federal National Council, it noted, had established its Human Rights Committee in 2013, which takes note of relevant bilateral, regional and international conventions relating to human rights. It also works to raise awareness of human rights and facilitates the dissemination of a human rights culture through its engagement with relevant educational and media authorities and institutions.
In the Ministry of Interior, the report said, a wide-ranging series of units and committees have been created to deal with the protection and promotion of human rights. These include the Human Rights Department within the Office of the Inspector General, the Public Authority for Community Protection and Crime Prevention, which oversees a number of departments, including the Juvenile Welfare Department, the Ministry of the Interior Centre for the Rehabilitation and Employment of Persons with Disabilities, the Office to Promote a Culture of Respect for the Law, the Federal Community Policing Department, the Federal Social Assistance Department, and the Ministry of the Interior Federal Centre for Child Protection.
Steps to combat human trafficking
Among steps taken to increase awareness of trafficking within the UAE have been the installation of information noticeboards at airports, the use of audio-visual media, the holding of courses for high risk groups and the dissemination of publications in eight languages, aimed at those communities deemed to be most at risk.
In collaboration with the Dubai Police, the Dubai Judicial Institute and a number of specialists from within the country and abroad, including the sub-regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, training courses have been held for people working in the field of human trafficking, including law enforcement officials and members of relevant government departments and civil society organisations.
Concrete steps have also been taken to provide assistance to the victims of trafficking, this being considered as a key element of the country's strategic plan. A number of residential centres and other centres providing psychological support for victims have been established.
The most important of these include: The Dubai Association for the Protection of Women and Children, which was founded in 2007 to provide urgent care and support services to victims, in line with international human rights standards. The association provides its services free of charge to female and child victims of domestic violence, children subjected to ill-treatment and victims of human trafficking.
Emirates Red Crescent homes for trafficking victims. This programme, launched in 2008, provides rehabilitation services, including psychological, health and legal assistance, to victims of human trafficking. The first home for male victims of human trafficking was opened in Abu Dhabi in January 2014. In 2013, the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking established its Support Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking. Since its establishment, the Fund has provided US $153,735 in assistance to trafficking victims.
Centre to monitor human trafficking
The ministry has also established human trafficking units within police command departments, while the Directorate General of Human Rights of the Dubai Police also runs a human trafficking monitoring centre. The ministry has also established the High Committee for the Protection of the Child, the Ministry of the Interior Human Rights Committee, the Legal Council, the Police Disciplinary Board, the Women's Police Coordinating Committee, the Happiness and Positivity Committee, and the Penal Institution and Police Station Detention Facility Inspections Committee.
It has also set up ways for the public to submit information and complaints in a number of languages, while social support centres in the various police command departments have been established to deal with cases of domestic violence, violence at school and runaway children.
In the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, the Human Trafficking Offences Department is charged with monitoring the labour market and with following up on reports about human trafficking.
Child protection unit
In Dubai, the Community Development Authority opened its Child Protection Unit in 2014, to provide social and psychological support to children, including, in particular, children who have been subjected to various types of abuse, and to help children overcome the difficulties they encounter, while the Human trafficking Monitoring Centre at Dubai Police General Headquarters monitors human trafficking offences. The centre also collaborates with international organisations.
New policy for the recruitment of foreign workers
The report noted that the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation has adopted a "new policy for the recruitment of foreign workers abroad."
The policy aims to ensure that "contracts are unambiguous" and comply with "all legislative texts regulating the employment relationship between workers and the employers."
Most notably, the report added, the UAE has promulgated a number of legislative instruments that provide legal safeguards to protect the rights of workers to exercise free will in their decision to work. According to the report, Ministerial Decision No. 765 of 2015 and Ministerial Decision No. 766 of 2015 entrench the principle of work as a choice.
In addition, the 2015 Standard Model Work Contract, "affirms that employers are prohibited by the State from seizing workers' passports, and stipulates that the worker enjoys the right to retain his or her identity documents."
As for domestic workers, the UAE has introduced major reforms to guarantee their protection. Last year, the responsibility for monitoring the recruitment of domestic workers was shifted from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation, which oversees the rights of all other workers in the country.