GENEVA, The United Arab Emirates has made major steps to combat human trafficking, the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva was told today, Monday. In an official report, the Government noted that, "the United Arab Emirates considers human trafficking a crime against humanity and affirms its commitment to addressing all human trafficking offences in cooperation with the international community."

The report was presented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Anwar Gargash.

In the fight against trafficking, the report noted, the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, established in 2008, has played an effective role. The Committee's Strategic Plan was adopted in 2012 and was formulated on the basis of five internationally-endorsed pillars, namely: prevention and prohibition, prosecution, punishment, the protection of victims and the promotion of international cooperation. This Plan, the report noted, has enabled significant progress to be made in recent years, including the signing of Memoranda of Understanding to prevent the crime and to enhance protection for victims with Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Indonesia and, most recently, India. Work is currently under way on similar MoUs with other countries.

Legislation has been tightened up, the report noted, with the promulgation of Federal Act No. 01 of 2015 amending certain provisions of the Federal Anti-Human Trafficking Act No. 51 of 2006, which enhances protection for victims and increases penalties for the perpetrators of trafficking offences, in line with the international Palermo Protocol.

Among steps taken to increase awareness of trafficking within the UAE have been the installation of information noticeboards at airports, the use of audio-visual media, the holding of courses for high risk groups and the dissemination of publications in eight languages, aimed at those communities deemed to be most at risk.

In collaboration with the Dubai Police, the Dubai Judicial Institute and a number of specialists from within the country and abroad, including the sub-regional representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, training courses have been held for people working in the field of human trafficking, including law enforcement officials and members of relevant government departments and civil society organisations.

Concrete steps have also been taken to provide assistance to the victims of trafficking, this being considered as a key element of the country's strategic plan. A number of residential centres and other centres providing psychological support for victims have been established. The most important of these include: The Dubai Association for the Protection of Women and Children, which was founded in 2007 to provide urgent care and support services to victims, in line with international human rights standards. The Association provides its services free of charge to female and child victims of domestic violence, children subjected to ill-treatment and victims of human trafficking.

Emirates Red Crescent homes for trafficking victims. This programme, launched in 2008, provides rehabilitation services, including psychological, health and legal assistance, to victims of human trafficking. The first home for male victims of human trafficking was opened in Abu Dhabi in January 2014.

In 2013, the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking established its Support Fund for Victims of Human Trafficking. This receives financial support from national foundations and charitable societies and members of the business community. The funds are used to cover certain expenses related to the needs of trafficking victims and their families in their countries of origin, and helps them to establish small businesses. It also organises training courses to prepare them for future employment. Since its establishment, the Fund has provided US $153,735 in assistance to trafficking victims.

Source: Emirates News Agency