Police to visit Belarus to combat trafficking

The UAE signs agreements with Eastern European countries to combat gangs engaged in human trafficking.

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ABU DHABI // Officers from the UAE will be sent to a special training centre in Belarus to learn new techniques for tackling the criminal gangs engaged in human trafficking. The move was announced yesterday by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) after the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Belarus and Armenia, agreed in meetings at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday.

The agreement comes two months after a delegation including Saeed al Ghafli, the executive director of the State Ministry for Federal National Council Affairs, visited the International Training Centre in the Belarus capital, Minsk. The committee is also launching a campaign to raise the profile of the work being carried out to tackle the problem. Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and chairman of the NCCHT, said: "The UAE has succeeded in drawing support for its battle to combat human trafficking domestically and globally, through important initiatives that we launched against this criminal activity.

"The success has motivated us to exert more efforts to deal with the issue and eliminate it." "Human trafficking poses a direct threat to social and moral values of UAE society. It is imperative that international players unite against this crime." Vladimir Naumov, the Belarus foreign minister, said last year that between 2001 and 2007 more than 2,600 victims of human trafficking were freed in his country, with more than 1,500 people facing criminal proceedings as a result.

He added that police succeeded in breaking up 10 international crime organisations and 48 organised crime gangs specialising in human trafficking in Belarus. The International Training Centre was opened in July last year. Mikalai Dzivakou, a consular affairs secretary with the Belarus Embassy in Abu Dhabi, said: "The centre is very well thought of and is very modern, with the best teachers. "We are trying to get more people from other countries and from the UAE to come so we can share our technical and theoretical material."

Mr Dzivakou said there had been a handful of examples of people being sent against their will from Belarus to the UAE, particularly women sold into prostitution. But, he said, the problem had all but been eradicated in the past year. He added that Belarus viewed the UAE as a key ally in its fight against human trafficking, an issue likely to be put before the United Nations in the coming year. The NCCTH's annual report said countries should form a united front against "the exploitation of human beings".

"Human trafficking is an issue that affects many countries and the UAE is no exception," it said. "Trafficking is a problem that transcends national borders. It involves countries of origin, transit and final destination. This means that no country or region acting alone can eradicate this crime." A report by the US State Department published in June said the UAE had made "impressive efforts" in combating human trafficking, but that much work remained to be done.

It recommended the country "continue to increase law enforcement efforts to identify, prosecute and punish acts of sex trafficking [and] significantly increase law enforcement efforts against labour trafficking, including prosecuting and punishing employers and recruiters who defraud or abuse workers." rhughes@thenational.ae