x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

UN monitor’s human-trafficking mission a first for Emirates

Special rapporteur to meet victims and range of stakeholders.

DUBAI // A top United Nations monitor will spend a week in the UAE in the first fact-finding mission on human trafficking in the Emirates.

Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the UN special rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, will be in the UAE – at the invitation of the Government – from tomorrow until April 17.

Ms Ezeilo will meet victims of trafficking, various government agencies and members of the judiciary, international and civil society organisations in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

“I wish to reach out to a wide range of stakeholders and trafficked persons themselves, so that their voices are heard and can be considered in the development of national laws, policies and measures related to trafficking in persons,” Ms Ezeilo said.

She will also assess the country’s progress in stemming trafficking and the challenges it faces in doing so.

This is not the first time a UN monitor has visited the UAE. In 2009, Githu Muigai, then rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; and Najat M’jid Maalla, the rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, also came on fact-finding missions at the request of the Government.

Ms Ezeilo’s trip was announced last month by Obaid Salem Al Za’abi, the UAE’s permanent representative to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva.

Ms Ezeilo has been called to get a “close insight into efforts and achievements the UAE authorities concerned have made in combating human trafficking”, Mr Al Za’abi told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“The United Arab Emirates had also been active in the promotion and protection of human rights at regional and international levels,” he said, according to the foreign ministry’s website.

Last year, the US state department’s annual Trafficking in Persons report placed the UAE in the second tier, suggesting that it did not fully meet international anti-trafficking standards.

The department recommended more action on curbing labour abuses by investigating and prosecuting unscrupulous recruitment agents and abusive employers.

In 2009, the UAE had been upgraded from the tier two watch list in recognition of its progress.

pkannan@thenational.ae