Expert team for Dubai to fight human trafficking

Specialist task force including sociologists, psychologists and women prosecutors to be formed after court cases double.

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DUBAI // Responding to calls for a more concentrated effort to fight human trafficking, Dubai yesterday announced that a task force of sociologists, psychologists, legal researchers and female prosecutors would be formed to handle all such cases. The task force, established by the Dubai Attorney General, Issam al Humaidan, will also develop new laws to deal with the problem, which until now has been handled at the local level.

The move was welcomed by social workers and others who have lobbied for such a team. "We have been asking for such a specialised human trafficking task force in the public prosecution for a while now as it will protect the rights of the victims," said Afra al Basti, the chief executive of the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children. "Having public prosecutors who are specialised in human trafficking cases will strengthen the system, increase its productivity and speed up the cases," she said.

"They will have the needed knowledge to deal with these cases such as the international treaties and protocols." The number of prosecutions for human trafficking in Dubai doubled last year to 20 from 10 in 2007, according to statistics released this year by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking. In one high-profile case, 11 people were arrested in Dubai in June in connection with a ring in which a 16-year-old girl was forced into prostitution.

The task force will be headed by the advocate general, Khalifa bin Deemas, and will include experienced professional prosecutors. It will also work with local and federal agencies. "This inception is part of our strategic target to ensure a safer and more just society by deterring these kinds of crimes by the use of experienced and specialised professionals," Mr bin Deemas said. "The team is experienced in human trafficking cases and has set protocols and standards to which they will adhere when investigating the crimes."

Legal, psychological and sociological help and support will be offered to victims, he said, and a campaign will be launched to alert the public to the dangers of such crimes. Col Mohammed al Mur, the director general of the Dubai Police legal and disciplinary control department, under which the centre for the monitoring of human trafficking falls, said yesterday's announcement signified considerable progress in implementing the 2006 federal anti-trafficking law.

"It is important for those investigating human trafficking cases to understand the sensitivities of these cases, especially when dealing with the victims, so it is a good step to have psychologists involved in the investigations," he added.