By Shane McGinley
Move is part of the UAE’s efforts to combat human trafficking and related crimes
Abu Dhabi is to set up a new centre for adult male victims of human trafficking and sexual abuse, the WAM news agency has confirmed.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the UAE Red Crescent Authority, has issued a resolution for the establishing of the centre, which will be supervised by the Ewa'a Shelter for Women and Children in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Hamdan said the move was the latest initiative to combat human trafficking and added the UAE had joined the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (Bali Process) in an effort to combat human trafficking and related crimes.
On the centre's mission, he said, it will provide comprehensive humanitarian care and a safe, temporary shelter to the victims while staying in the UAE.
Last week, a report by the US Department of State said Gulf states are failing to meet international minimum standards to eliminate human trafficking, particularly forced labour, but praised the step being made by the UAE.
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are still among the worst countries and are not making any significant efforts to improve, the Trafficking in Persons Report 2013 says.
The UAE, Qatar and Oman also do not fully comply with the minimum standards for combating human trafficking, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, the report said.
While Bahrain has some measures in place, it has not stepped up its efforts in recent years and the number of people forced into labour in the country remains significantly high, according to the report.
The Gulf states were identified as being key markets for men and women who voluntarily travel from Asian and African countries such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Vietnam, Burma, as domestic workers or low-skilled labourers.
However, once in the Gulf they subsequently face conditions indicative of forced labour, including non-payment of wages, long working hours without rest, deprivation of food, threats, physical and sexual abuse, and restrictions on movement such as the withholding of passports or confinement to the workplace.
The report praised the UAE government for continuing to make anti-trafficking prevention efforts a priority, with anti-trafficking information and education campaigns within the UAE and the embassies and consulates of labour source countries, as well as expanding an awareness-raising advertisement campaign in international airports and the media.
The Ministry of Labour forwarded 405 companies accused of violating the labour law for public prosecution in the past year. In September 2012, a businessman was sentenced to pay almost $1m in fines for paying his workers’ salaries nine months late.
A great initiative - and not before time. I hope they receive the support they deserve to achieve this goal.