Human trafficking report by US distorted and disappointing: UAE


“The UAE government is deeply disappointed by the subjective and inaccurate assessment in this report,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash said.

The US State Department’s annual “Trafficking in Persons Report” was released on Tuesday with the UAE among new countries cited for human trafficking problems.

In contrast to the US report, the Annual Report 2008 released earlier this month by the UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) indicated that over 20 cases of human trafficking were registered last year, compared to 10 cases in 2007, doubling the number of cases prosecuted in a period of 12 months.

The NCCHT report added that the number of prosecutions and the severity of punishments issued by UAE courts also increased significantly this year, with convictions in six cases and two people receiving life sentences.

“The UAE made significant progress in its endeavour to fight this crime in 2008. In its last report, the State Department identified UAE as ‘a model in the region’. It is indeed disturbing to note that this year’s report has failed to view our transparent efforts and results objectively,” Gargash said.

The minister, who is also the chairman of the NCCHT, criticised the parameters applied to measure human trafficking cases.

“It appears that the US definition of human trafficking varies every year depending on the nature of debate on this issue in its domestic environment. It is incongruous to equate alleged labour rights violations, which are a critical but separate issue, to the coercive and unacceptable sexual exploitation of women for profit,” he said.

“This report lumps all these issues together in a manner that is generalised and unconstructive. Changing goal posts has unfortunately become a feature of these trafficking reports and they have thereby lost credibility as a constructive measuring tool of anti-trafficking efforts around the world.

“The UAE monitors all international reports and assesses them objectively. It welcomes constructive criticism and help, but reserves the right to determine the agenda to tackle its problems in a manner that it deems appropriate.

“We are committed to fighting this crime and will continue to do so diligently,” the minister said.

During the last year, the government ratified the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children; and in order to increase the government’s effectiveness, the Council of Ministers expanded the size and scope of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking by including public prosecutors and law-enforcement officers as its members.

The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children provides psychological and physical care for victims of trafficking and other forms of abuse — in 2008, 43 cases were admitted. The newly established Abu Dhabi shelter handled 15 trafficking victims, who also aided police in the investigations of the criminals who exploited them.

“The UAE is pursuing traffickers aggressively and they will be severely punished under the UAE’s anti-trafficking law,” he said.


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