Dubai Police on Monday quashed myths human traffickers use to threaten and exploit their victims and urged the public to trust law enforcers instead of believing criminals’ lies.
Dubai Police organised a community educational outreach on Monday night with the Filipino community at the Philippine consulate in Dubai to discuss the pressing issue of combating human trafficking.
Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation or transfer of people, including keeping them by force or other forms of coercion or fraud with the purpose of exploiting them either sexually or commercially.
First Lieutenant Rashid Nasser Ali from the Human Rights Department of Dubai Police encouraged community members to police themselves and alert authorities by calling 901 or 999 if they see or hear about people being trafficked into or within the UAE.
“The reason why I’m here is to remove victims’ fear of calling the police. Do not hesitate to call the police if you are a victim, or if you know one. The police are your friend,” First Lieutenant Ali assured the community.
The officer said victims are often afraid to call for help because they are either overstaying in the country or they had been tricked to abscond from their previous employers before they were trafficked.
“If you’re victims of human trafficking, even if your visa had expired or you previously absconded from your employers because someone lured you into a job with false promises only to exploit you, you will be treated as victims and your rights will be protected. ”
1st Lt Ali said even if the perpetrators could be police officials, persons of influence or connected to anyone in power, victims should not be afraid as in the UAE, no one is above the law.
The UAE ranked first in the Middle East and 33rd globally in The Rule of Law Index, according to the 2016 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index.
In 2016, 106 people accused of human trafficking were arrested in the UAE in connection with 25 criminal cases involving 34 victims, according to the 2016 anti-human trafficking report of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.
The number of people arrested is almost double the previous year when 54 accused traffickers were arrested in connection with 17 cases involving 24 victims.
Convicted traffickers get a minimum of five years to life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Dh100,000 in the UAE.
1st Lt Ali said victims are given shelter where they undergo counselling and rehabilitation so they can reintegrate in society. Expatriates are also given the chance to go back to their country of origin or stay in the country to find new employment. During the forum, Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes urged his compatriots to remain vigilant and spread the information to the rest of the Filipino community.