x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Human trafficking cases on the rise

The number of human trafficking cases making it to court increases as the UAE commits to prosecuting more cases.

ABU DHABI // The number of human trafficking cases going to trial are on the rise as the UAE steps up its efforts to combat the crime.

Last year, 58 cases affecting 152 victims went to court, an increase from 43 cases and 86 victims in 2009, according to an annual report from the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.

The report attributed the increase in prosecuted cases to a more concentrated effort from authorities to "counter this criminal practice".

"The rising number of human trafficking cases is a result of the diligent efforts of all authorities in the nation that are concerned with the fight against this crime and that make sure it is exposed and punished," the report said.

Dubai recorded the highest number of cases with 28, an increase from 21 the year before. Seven cases went to court in Abu Dhabi and 23 cases were recorded in the remaining five emirates. In 2008, only 20 cases were prosecuted, while 10 were in 2007.

Last year, human trafficking cases involving forced labour or involuntary servitude became more common, the report said, "which is an important indicator that law enforcement authorities have broadened the scope of their monitoring of human trafficking crimes". In the past, most of the cases have been linked to sexual exploitation.

The report applauded UAE-specific initiatives that led to the rise in prosecutions last year, including the opening of shelters for women and children victims in Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah and the creation of a dedicated department for the cause within the Ministry of Labour.

"The UAE acknowledges that human trafficking is a reality that threatens our society and many other societies around the world," the report said.

"We have achieved great results in a short time, but we will continue to improve our performance until the problem is tackled in a manner that matches up to the best practices worldwide."

jthomas@thenational.ae