A huge chunk of the UAE population is comprised of foreign workers from different countries, each with its own embassy or diplomatic missions in the country. In Abu Dhabi, for example, there’s the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO), both of which cater to the needs and concerns of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
One of the most important issues faced by foreign workers is trafficking. Fortunately, aside from their respective embassies, foreign workers can also turn to UAE authorities for help and assistance. In today’s post, we take a look at how the country is fighting against human trafficking crimes.
Anti-Trafficking Laws and Agencies in the UAE
Over the years, the UAE has introduced laws against human trafficking, beginning with Federal Law No. 51 of 2006, which was amended by Federal Law No. 1 of 2015.
Under the said law, human trafficking includes all forms of sexual exploitation, as well as engaging people into:
- Organ trafficking;
- Quasi-slavery practices;
- Servitude or enslavement; and
- Forced labour or coerced service.
Anyone found guilty of committing these crimes shall be held responsible. Similarly, anyone who is found to be aware of a human trafficking crime — but does not report it — shall also be held accountable and may also be punished.
The law stipulates a fine of at least AED 100,000 and a minimum of five years in prison for offenders, while seeking to protect the victims as well as any eyewitnesses.
Aside from this law, the UAE has also enacted Federal Law No. 15 of 1993, which concerns organ transplants, and Federal Law No. 18 of 2009, which amended the process for registering births and deaths in the country.
National Committee for Combatting Human Trafficking
To coordinate anti-trafficking efforts across all seven emirates, the National Committee for Combatting Human Trafficking (NCCHT) was established in 2007. It is comprised of 18 representatives from different local and federal institutions.
The NCCHT follows the “5 Ps” approach in fighting against human trafficking: prevention, prosecution, punishment, protection, and promotion. Since its inception, the Committee has held meetings, visits, and workshops related to human trafficking, and is considered to be the country’s official representative to international conferences on the subject.
Ministry of Interior
Notably, the UAE’s Ministry of Interior has also joined the fight against human trafficking. Among its initiatives are:
- Promoting awareness on anti-human trafficking;
- Enforcing stricter control at the country’s entry points;
- Monitoring people who are involved or suspected to be involved in human trafficking;
- Verifying individuals at entry points using unified criminal justice and Interpol systems; and
- Coordinating with Interpol by exchanging information on human trafficking crimes.
Shelters and Support Centres
Across the UAE, the government has established Ewa’a Shelters, which look after women and children who are victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
In the capital, the Abu Dhabi Police supervises a number of social support centres that care for human trafficking victims. These centres also provide the necessary support and coordination with different concerned institutions.
In Sharjah, there’s the Women’s Protection Centre of the Social Services Department of the Government of Sharjah. Through its website and toll free number, 800-800-700, the centre offers social, psychological, and legal counseling, along with family consultations and solutions to domestic issues, which may include human trafficking cases.
Dubai Foundation for Women & Children
Established in July 2007, the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) happens to be the first licensed, non-profit shelter in the country for women and children who are victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and abuse.
The foundation offers the following core services:
- Safe shelter;
- Medical care;
- Case management;
- Psychological support; and
- Legal, consular, and immigration support.
Furthermore, the foundation provides these secondary support services:
- Children’s education;
- Recreational activities;
- Vocational services;
- Physical fitness; and
- Empowerment and skills training.
Human Trafficking Crime Control Centre
Under the supervision of Dubai Police, the General Directorate for Human Rights Protection offers social, psychological, and legal support to women and children who are victims of human trafficking. It provides temporary shelter, temporary visas, and when necessary — flight tickets so that the victims can return to their homelands.
Also under the Dubai Police, there’s the Human Trafficking Crime Control Centre, where anyone can report cases by contacting +971 4 608 2347, as well as the following:
- Labour complaints hotline: 8005005
- Human trafficking cases hotline: 8007283
- Fax: +971 4 217 1644
- Email: email@example.com
How to Avoid Becoming a Victim
Additionally, here are some tips from the the Dubai Police – Human Trafficking Crime Control Center on how to avoid becoming a victim of human trafficking:
- Be wary of “attractive job offers or business opportunities.
- Be wary of job offers communicated through the Internet.
- Be wary of engagement offers or marriage offers through the Internet.
- Do not hesitate to ask questions about a job offer or business opportunity.
- Do not hesitate to seek advice from professional and legal advisers.
- Check and verify the actual existence of the company offering the opportunity.
- Before signing any employment or business contracts, read them carefully.
- Before agreeing to any job offers, be sure to know your rights and obligations.
- Before you travel, coordinate with the embassy of the country you are going to. And as soon as you arrive, don’t forget to coordinate with the embassy of your home country.
- Before you travel, give your complete contact information (i.e. address and phone numbers) to your family and friends back home.
- Store your passport and identity card in a safe place.
Working in a foreign land — away from your family and loved ones — could put you at risk of human trafficking activities, so be sure to contact the authorities and follow the tips mentioned above. In addition, have these emergency numbers and hotlines in Abu Dhabi written and posted in a prominent place at home or in the office, so that you can dial them immediately in cases of emergency.
DISCLAIMER: The above details and tips are presented for the purpose of information-sharing only. To learn more about anti-trafficking laws in the UAE, as well as how to report cases of domestic abuse, human trafficking, and other related crimes in the country, please visit the official website of the UAE Government Portal.