x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Drive against human trafficking to include new legislation

Ministry of Interior to take a more active role in protecting human rights, including training courses, forums and visits to refuges.

ABU DHABI // A new Ministry of Interior committee to fight human trafficking has begun developing a strategy that includes new legislation, the ministry announced yesterday. The panel, set up by ministerial decree late last year by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Minister of Interior and UAE Deputy Prime Minister, will also co-ordinate with other agencies to combat the crime.

The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, headed by Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, oversees all anti-trafficking efforts. "Our plans will include a more active role in the field of human rights, through programmes, training courses, forums and field visits to all partners," said Col Ahmed al Muharami, the director of the ministry's human rights department. The committee will visit authorities and centres that shelter victims, gathering their views on how to update laws and develop new ones, and spread awareness about the crime.

Col al Muharami said his department was also working on a new database that would include "everything related to human rights" after co-ordinating with authorities here and outside the country. Although the committee will seek to protect all people, Col al Muharami said its focus would be on women and children. The department plans to publish booklets, conduct educational lectures and provide legal advice to victims of human trafficking.

In recent years, the authorities have worked hard to prevent migrant workers from being lured to the country by the promise of legitimate employment only to fall victim to human traffickers. Law 51, the nation's anti-trafficking legislation, includes punishments of up to life imprisonment for offenders. The law refers to victims trafficked for reasons that include sexual exploitation and forced labour.