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India & UAE to Sign MoU to Prevent Human Trafficking


Article109.pngIndia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will shortly sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate in preventing and combating human trafficking. The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gave its approval for signing of the MoU and it is expected to be operationlised very soon. The MoU will increase the bilateral cooperation on the issues of prevention, rescue, recovery and repatriation related to human trafficking especially women and children expeditiously, an official spokesperson said after the Cabinet meeting. The MoU will help strengthen cooperation to prevent all forms of human trafficking, especially that of women and children and ensure speedy investigation and prosecution of traffickers and organized crime syndicates in either country, and will help in taking preventive measures that would eliminate human trafficking in women and children and in protecting the rights of victims of trafficking.

Anti-trafficking Cells and Task Forces will work on both sides to prevent human trafficking with police and other authorities concerned working in closely and exchanging information which can be used to interdict human traffickers. The repatriation of victims would be done as expeditiously as possible and the home country will undertake the safe and effective re-integration of the victims. A Joint Task Force with representatives from both sides would be constituted to monitor the working of the MoU. As a destination of trafficking, South Asian countries are mainly affected by domestic trafficking, or trafficking from the neighboring countries. However, South Asian victims are also increasingly detected in the Middle East.

India is a source and transit country as far as trafficking to UAE is concerned, whereas UAE is a destination and transit country for men and women, predominantly from South, Southeast and Central Asia and Eastern Europe who are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Migrant workers, who comprise over 95 percent of the UAE's private sector workforce, are recruited primarily from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran and East, South and Southeast Asia. Some of these workers face forced labour in the UAE. Women from some of these countries travel willingly to the UAE to work as domestic workers, secretaries, beauticians and hotel cleaners, but some are subjected to forced labour by unlawful withholding of their passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats and physical or sexual abuse.

The reinforcement of anti-trafficking efforts at all levels between the UAE and India is essential for prevention and protection of victims. This requires mutual cooperation among both the countries for intelligence sharing, joint investigation and a coordinated response to the challenges of human trafficking. For this purpose, it is proposed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with UAE, the spokesperson said. India has already signed one MoU to prevent trafficking with Bangladesh and another with Bahrain is to be signed during this month. According to the Global Report on Trafficking in People, 2014, victims in Europe and Central Asia are mostly trafficked for sexual exploitation (66 per cent), whereas in East & South Asia and the Pacific forced labour is the main reason (64 per cent). In the Americas, both types are detected in almost equal measure (48 per cent for sexual exploitation, 47 per cent for forced labour).

People are trafficked to be exploited in a range of different sectors: of the detected victims in 2011, 53 per cent were involved in sexual exploitation and 40 per cent in forced labour which includes exploitation in agriculture, horticulture, construction, textile production in sweatshop conditions, catering and restaurants, entertainment services and domestic servitude. Other forms of exploitation have been found such as forced marriage, organ removal, illegal adoption and the exploitation of children for begging and as child soldiers. Most countries have now criminalized trafficking with a specific offence in line with the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol. But impunity remains a serious problem; only four in 10 countries reported having 10 or more yearly convictions in 2010-2012 and nearly 15 per cent having no convictions at all in the same period.

The Dubai Police website also describes the crime of Human Trafficking as one of the biggest challenges in the field of human rights as it affects human dignity and freedom, of the worst forms of exploitation. In recent years, successive efforts and global initiatives to combat this crime, such as the protocol for the global fight against Human Trafficking, and the International Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, which includes combating, prevention, and punishment of human smugglers and human traffickers, the website says. But the rest of these efforts and initiatives are inadequate in front of the proliferation of Human Trafficking and the doubling number of victims. Because prevention is the main step to tackle this issue; nations, governments, and non-governmental organizations depend on prevention and awareness campaigns as one of the basic tools to support efforts to combat these heinous crimes."

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