Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - United Arab Emirates

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 12 June 2007
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - United Arab Emirates, 12 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/467be3e023.html [accessed 20 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

United Arab Emirates (Tier 2 Watch List)

The United Arab Emirates (U. A. E. ) remains a destination country for men and women trafficked for the purpose of involuntary servitude and commercial sexual exploitation. Women from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ethiopia, and the Philippines migrate willingly to the U. A. E. to work as domestic servants, but many face conditions of involuntary servitude such as excessive work hours without pay; verbal, mental, physical, and sexual abuse; and restrictions on movement. Similarly, men from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan come to the U. A. E. to work in the construction industry, but are often subjected to involuntary servitude and debt bondage as they work to pay off recruitment costs sometimes exceeding two years' wages. Women from Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, India, Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, the Philippines, Iraq, Iran, and Morocco are reportedly trafficked to the U. A. E. for commercial sexual exploitation. Some foreign women were reportedly recruited to work as secretaries, but were trafficked into forced prostitution or domestic servitude. The U. A. E. may also serve as a transit country for women trafficked into forced labor in Oman and Sudan, and men deceived into working involuntarily in Iraq. Although children were previously trafficked from South Asia, Sudan, and Mauritania as child camel jockeys, all identified victims were repatriated at the U. A. E. 's expense.

The Government of the U. A. E. does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so. U. A. E. is placed on Tier 2 Watch list for a second consecutive year for failing to take meaningful steps to address the problem of foreign women trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and of foreign male and female workers subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude. The government did not demonstrate vigorous law enforcement or victim protection efforts. The U. A. E. should dedicate resources for the prosecution of trafficking crimes, while encouraging victims to testify against their traffickers, and giving them alternatives to detention and deportation.

Prosecution

Although in December 2006 the U. A. E. government passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking law prohibiting all forms of trafficking, with prescribed penalties ranging from one year to life imprisonment, no other progress was reported in prosecuting and punishing trafficking crimes. The government did not prosecute any cases under this law or any other available law, including statutes against withholding passports, false imprisonment, and kidnapping. Although the Ministry of Labor imposed fines on labor recruiters for fraudulent practices, the government did not pursue criminal prosecutions of those facilitating trafficking. The government also did not provide evidence that it prosecuted employers for intimidating employees to force them to work. Government officials, however, actively monitored camel races to ensure that children were not used as camel jockeys in violation of the country's 2005 ban. The Dubai police also organized a workshop on investigating trafficking. The U. A. E. should significantly increase criminal investigations of trafficking offenses, including involuntary servitude of foreign workers, and should stringently punish sex traffickers and abusive employers and labor recruiters who engage in labor trafficking through the use of force or fraud.

Protection

The U. A. E. government made limited progress in protecting trafficking victims this year. The government continues to detain and deport victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked. Although some women are trafficked to the U. A. E. for commercial sexual exploitation, some are forced into prostitution after their arrival, and others enter prostitution willingly but encounter coercion or force afterwards. Victims who voluntarily enter the U. A. E. with the intent of entering the sex trade are treated as criminals regardless of any victimization that occurs after their arrival. Similarly, the U. A. E. does not consider laborers forced into involuntary servitude as trafficking victims if they are over the age of 18 and entered the country voluntarily. Many cases of forced labor are therefore not investigated. There are no formal mechanisms to identify women who are trafficked into domestic servitude or prostitution, or men who are trafficked into bonded laborers. Women who formally identify themselves as trafficking victims may access government provided temporary housing in hotels, counseling, medical care, and repatriation aid in Dubai. The Dubai government also refers self-identified victims to an NGO-sponsored shelter. However, the U. A. E. does not offer victims asylum, residence, or other legal alternatives to removal to source countries where they may face retribution. Thus, many victims are reluctant to report being trafficked. Victim Assistance Coordinators in police stations reportedly encourage victims to assist in trafficking investigations, but many victims still conceal the fact that they were trafficked for fear of arrest and deportation. In December 2006, the U. A. E. committed to funding a $9 million expansion of a U. A. E.-UNICEF project to provide assistance to children who had been forced to work as camel jockeys in the U. A. E. and were repatriated two years ago.

Prevention

The U. A. E. made some progress in preventing trafficking this year. The Dubai police operated a Web site and 24-hour hotline for trafficking victims to lodge complaints. The U. A. E. also continued an awareness campaign including public advertisements and pamphlets distributed in airports, worksites, and embassies warning potential victims of their rights and resources. The U. A. E. , however, still has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

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