x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

US State Department's 'constructive criticism' welcomed by UAE

A Government minister has welcomed a US assessment of the nation's response to human trafficking.

A Government minister has welcomed "constructive criticism" contained in a US assessment of the nation's response to human trafficking. Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and the head of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), said the 2010 Trafficking in Persons report acknowledged that the Emirates had made "measurable progress" on the issue, while acknowledging that more work remained to be done.

"The UAE monitors all international reports and benchmarks and assesses them objectively," Dr Gargash said, according to WAM, the state news agency. "It welcomes recognition of the country's anti-trafficking efforts, constructive criticism, as well as collaborative efforts. "The UAE is aware that several challenges still lie ahead, and we are committed to continuing our efforts alongside our international partners."

The comments came two days after the annual report, produced by the US State Department for the past 10 years, upgraded the UAE from the Tier Two Watch List to the Tier Two category. The report ranks countries in four categories, with Tier 1 the best and Tier 3 the worst, based on their compliance with US anti-trafficking legislation. The report found that the Emirates was making "significant efforts" against modern-day slavery, particularly in tackling trafficking in the sex trade. It also concluded that more effort was required in terms of forced labour.

The NCCHT released its own annual report last month, which showed that the number of human trafficking cases taken to court last year was more than double the previous year. The report said 43 cases went to court in 2009 involving 86 trafficking victims. Two shelters for victims of human trafficking were opened this week, according to WAM. New facilities in Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah were added to shelters already operating in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and an anti-trafficking awareness campaign is expected to be launched near the end of the year.

The campaign, which has been planned for some time, will be rolled out at airports across the country and at UAE embassies. It is aimed at drawing attention to the issue of trafficking, the UAE's protection services and the country's stance on the crime. zconstantine@thenational.ae