A dedicated Dubai Police unit is setting out to help victims of human trafficking rebuild their lives.
The force combines its primary role of preventing and investigating human trafficking with strategies focused on supporting victims.
Its Human Trafficking Crimes Control Centre was established in 2009 with the aim of combating such crimes and improving victim support services.
“We thought of adopting a holistic approach to help prevent the crime, better support victims and upskill officers,” said Col Sultan Al Jamal, director of Human Trafficking Crimes Control at the General Department of Human Rights.
“We collaborate with the National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking, Dubai foundation for women and children (DFWAC), Al Maktoum Foundation and other departments.”
Last year, officers at the centre helped five victims of human trafficking, who were provided with financial, legal, social and emotional support.
“We provide legal support by following up on victims’ cases through our ‘You Are Not Alone’ initiative. Charities provide financial aid and DFWAC helps with the social and emotional support” said Col Sultan.
“At the shelter victims also receive training. For example some of them were trained to become chefs and fashion designers.”
Col Sultan said victims are supported from the first moment they arrive at the police centre.
“It's imperative victims do not remain in the police station and are immediately moved to a shelter where they feel their dignity is preserved,” he said.
“We remain involved until the last minute and consider ourselves responsible for victims safety until they leave the country.”
He said officers have taken part in several courses over the years at the training and research unit at the centre.
“It's unique to have a research and training section at a police human trafficking department to develop officers skills,” he said.
“But it's important because there are fine lines that make the difference between human trafficking cases and other cases of prostitution, for example.”
To further broaden training, the centre began to offer a human trafficking diploma in 2015.
“It focuses on providing an in-depth understanding of human trafficking crimes to help law enforcement officers better understand the different types of trafficking crimes, the warning signs, proper victim support, and the overall trends,” said the senior officer.
Since 2015, 239 people, including members of the public, have graduated from the programme.
UAE backs international effort
The UAE has introduced legislation to combat all forms of human trafficking, which include sexual exploitation and forced labour.
The National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking was established in 2007 to support these efforts.
Last year, the UAE took part in a major Interpol operation to tackle human trafficking around the world, leading to hundreds of arrests.
Abu Dhabi and UAE personnel were part of a campaign against migrant smuggling and trafficking gangs that led to 286 arrests globally.
Interpol said authorities rescued about 430 human trafficking victims and identified 4,000 irregular migrants originating from 74 countries. Many of them required medical, psychological and housing assistance and were taken into the care of protective services.