x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Ending human trafficking takes co-operation

The crime can be tackled only through increased cooperation between the countries in which the crime originates and where its victims end up.

ABU DHABI // The crime of human trafficking can be tackled only through increased cooperation between the countries in which the crime originates and where its victims end up.

This is the conclusion of a three-day gathering in Abu Dhabi aimed at forging stronger ties between Gulf states and central Asian countries working to combat trade in human beings. Hatem Aly, who heads the UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) sub-regional office for the GCC, stressed that the practice was widespread in its scope.

"We understand that trafficking in human beings exists internationally," he said. "It involves countries of origin, transit and destination, which means we need partnerships and cooperation to fight against this transnational, organised crime."

Representatives from law enforcement, the judiciary and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from countries including Thailand, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar and the Emirates gathered for the workshop, which was organised by UNODC and hosted by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT).

Some of the workshop delegates were taken yesterday on a tour of Ewaa, a Abu Dhabi shelter for victims of human trafficking, which is scheduled to open sister facilities in Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah in the next few weeks.

A series of recommendations were discussed at the end of the event, including the need for more coordination at the regional and international level. While stressing the need for continued dialogue and cooperation, Dr Saeed al Ghufli, the head of the NCCHT, said some of the more specific recommendations were just as crucial.

"For example, it is very important for source countries to know how much salaries are for certain jobs in destination countries," he said, warning that people have been lured abroad by the false promises of high salaries only to end up being trafficked and forced into prostitution.

Discussions also touched on the possibility of establishing a more formal framework through which to hold regular meetings for regional anti-trafficking bodies, which would, it is hoped, enable a more efficient exchange of ideas.

The UAE has become increasingly active in anti-trafficking efforts since legislation pertaining to it was introduced in 2006.

Dr al Ghufli confirmed that a national campaign to focus attention on trafficking is expected to be introduced at the beginning of next month.

zconstantine@thenational.ae