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criminal law

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November 25, 2017

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Life in prison, dh100,000 fine for human trafficking

If the victim was a child or a mentally impaired person, the punishment can be death an Emirati lawyer said.

Human traffickers target the young, poor and less-educated in order to easily control, exploit and abuse them, law professionals say.

Last year, 106 defendants trafficked 34 victims into the UAE to be forced into the sex industry or be sold, said Legal Consultant Hassan Elhais from Al Rowad Advocates.

"The majority of victims as per the report of UAE's National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) are aged between 18-25 and the rest between 26-40, with 98 percent from Asian countries and from poor communities, and of course most of them didn't get a good education," said Dr Elhais.

He pointed out that its not random how the majority of victims come from poor and unfortunate places.

"Traffickers usually target the young, poor and less educated, the report stated that seven of last year's victims in Abu Dhabi were illiterate, four went only through primary education, two through elementary education and only three made it to high school. These victims were specifically picked in order for their traffickers to easily control them," said Dr Elhais adding that the number of human trafficking cases announced in the annual report of the NCCHT doesn't mean an increase in the number of such crimes, but rather mean an increase in arrests.

A copy of the report analyzed and studied by Dr Elhais shows that traffickers mostly abuse these women's lack of any legal knowledge and scare them with threats of being handed to authorities.

"They convince them into believing that they will be incarcerated if they fled because they are in debt to the traffickers who paid their travel expenses," he said adding that many other forms of abuse practiced on these women include sex and physical assaults, issuing threats and confinement.

Emirati lawyer Awatif Mohammed believes that all defendants arrested in relation to human trafficking cases and prosecuted, are merely the little men while the lords remain free.

"The UAE is fiercely battling human trafficking networks and soon enough will strangle their activity inside the country," she said, adding that the UAE's newly announced law on domestic workers will make it harder for traffickers to lure maids with promises of better wages, and the amended law on combatting human trafficking toughened punishments which is now blocking the way for traffickers.

Law 1 for the years 2005 amended by law 1 for the year 2015 identified human trafficking and every act that is considered by the law as an act of human trafficking, she said.

Ms Awatif added that the punishment for human trafficking is not less than five years up to life in prison and a fine not less than Dh100,000. If the victim was a child or a mentally impaired person, the punishment can be death, she said.

Victims are immediately referred to care centers across the UAE, said Lawyer Mohammed Elhais, such as Dubai Foundation for Women and children which cared for 233 victims since its inception in 2007.

Last year, Ewaa Shelters in Abu Dhabi cared for 18 victims including two children Mr. Mohammed said, adding that the victims receive physical and mental care during their stay.

He explained that as a lawyer he had seen how care shelters in the country focus on rebuilding these women's confidence and faith in society. "The victims undergo psychological evaluation, physical check ups and are provided with all the treatment they need, they receive training as well, to help re-engage them into society,"

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