UAE human trafficking arrests rise as police go after gangs

Victims included sex workers and those put into begging and forced labour

Dubai, February, 10, 2019: Dubai Police in action during the UAE SWAT Challenge in Dubai. Satish Kumar/ For the National / Story by Sal Amir
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Arrests for human trafficking rose sharply last year as police and law enforcement agencies tackled criminal gangs.

Seventy-seven suspects were arrested in 2018 - up from 48 people in 2017.

UAE agencies rescued 51 victims including those forced into the sex trade, forced labour and begging.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said the results are "testament to the tireless efforts of our authorities".

"We would like to take the opportunity to renew the UAE's commitment to working closely with stakeholders at national and international level to eliminate all forms of human trafficking", said Dr Gargash, who is chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.

He said about 6,200 personnel, including judges, police and port workers, have been trained how to spot and deal with cases of human trafficking.

An annual report revealed 22 cases related to sexual exploitation and six involved the sale of humans.

It also showed 10 of the 77 suspects were sentenced to life in jail.

- In Abu Dhabi there were 10 traffickers arrested over seven cases involving six victims

- In Dubai 25 people were caught in eight cases involving nine victims

- In Sharjah there were 29 arrested in 10 cases and 27 victims - including four children.

Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Ajman also had arrests over human trafficking.

Dr Gargash later tweeted that the UAE was “leading the region” in the fight against human trafficking.

The committee has been working with more than 240,000 citizens and residents through its awareness programme.