Human trafficking is not only a problem affecting the United Arab Emirates but also a global issue that has raised concern over the lives of many people. Although empirical evidence shows that the government of the UAE has intensified the campaign against human trafficking as a public policy, the menace remains. Human traffickers use complex systems in the illicit business that governments and international stakeholders have not yet discovered. In this regard, the phenomenon remains a profitable business to the perpetrators. In the light of this knowledge, this dissertation seeks to provide a way to combat the human trafficking business sufficiently. It is time to embrace a more integrative approach encompassing numerous elements including the root causes, individual actors, and/or organisations involved in the illegal act. The source countries, transportation means, transit points, sympathisers, police involvement, recruitment, markets of exploitation, and corruption elements will also be discussed in detail. Human trafficking is not only a violation of the law but also a threatening menace to the souls of people and larger societies that accommodate it. This dissertation presents the proposed mechanisms that can be employed to curb the global crime of human trafficking.
The phenomenon of human trafficking has gained increased attention and coverage over the past decade. The borderless form of human trafficking has attracted more interest amongst academics, the media, policymakers, government agencies, non-governmental organisations, and international communities. It is worth noting that human trafficking can be viewed as modern-day slavery as the phenomenon dates back to the so-called human slavery trade. Human trafficking is an activity that involves a person claiming the ownership of another. In so doing, the traffickers bear the right to sell or introduce the individuals to forced labour and/or sexual abuse among other offensive acts. These practices entail the selling or exchanging of people for material gains and other acts of disposing of people encompassing transportation and trade. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) backed this definition by defining human trafficking as all forced acts involving trade that violate human rights. This definition captures the important elements of slavery that comprise the ownership right over another human being.
The slave owners exercise a high degree of autonomy over the victims by doing whatever pleases them to the slave including selling them at any given time. Historically, human slavery can be found in the early civilisations in Mesopotamia. History traces this phenomenon to the legal codes of King Hammurabi (1760 BC) besides the ancient civilisation of the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. The practice was utilised in the abovementioned civilisations to promote both the economic and military powers as well as to institutionalise social norms. The modes of capturing the slaves included kidnapping, sea piracy, and/or human trade. The captured slaves usually came from weak and conquered territories and tribes.
The slave trade mainly arose due to a need for cheap labour that was catapulted by the growing new means of production, water irrigation, growing population, and the emergence of new transportation systems. For instance, the ancient Egyptian slaves were involved in activities such as construction projects notably the Pharaoh’s pyramids and water irrigation systems. This brief historical overview of human trafficking provides an ample understanding of the roots of the phenomenon as world leaders rethink the appropriate mechanisms of curbing the problem. From the preceding discussion, human trafficking brings in key players such as organisations, political aspects, and policing as the loopholes that need to be keenly investigated if the battle against human trafficking must be won.
This section presents the theoretical perspectives that explain the idea of human trafficking. Two important theories will be discussed to provide an in-depth understanding of why individuals possibly become the victims of this historical illegal business. The section is based on the criminological and business theories that seek to establish the driving force and rationale underpinning the decision-making processes of human traffickers. They include the rational choice and neutralisation theories that explain human trafficking at both individual and organisational levels.
Rational Choice Theory
Having developed and gained popularity in the 1970s, the rational choice theory hinges on classical criminology where criminals are perceived as calculative beings who decide to carry out crimes after taking a cost-benefit analysis of the prospective transgressions. Among the factors considered include a measurement of the immediate gain from the act, the risk of apprehension, extend and severity of penalties, and the potential worth of the criminal enterprise. Applying this theory to the context of human trafficking reveals features that lead to the practice. These features include high yield profits, ready supply and demand for victims, and availability of a ready market that immediately absorbs the victims upon delivery. There are also low chances of arrest and prosecution. The individuals calculate their preparedness in terms of skills and capacity to commit a particular crime successfully. Human traffickers weigh the costs of managing successful kidnappings without any law enforcers netting them against the capacity of transporting them from the transit points.
The prerequisites for involvement in human trafficking successfully entail the possession of proper skills, motives, needs, and fears of being apprehended. A substantial amount of literature on the study of rational choices and behavioural acts reveal that criminals rationally choose the type of offence to commit, target, time, and place of the act. The nature of the crime can be contingent on a rational analysis of the market situation. Human traffickers scale the financial benefits by moving the victims from the reserve to urban areas or from developing to industrialised countries. They also take the opportunities of big events such as the international sporting championships to supply their customers with the victims during prime time. Criminals also prey on the family crises such as an emergency requiring a substantial amount of cash. They also target economic meltdowns that lead to the emergence of poverty-stricken families where parents tend to neglect their children.
This theory features the law-abiding individuals who use techniques of neutralisation to justify their involvement in criminal acts. These justifications include the denial of responsibility where individuals use other factors as the driving forces behind their course of criminal acts. For instance, some use poverty, unemployment, and/or upbringing as responsible for their heinous acts of human trafficking. Secondly, the denial of injury is a technique that is used by the human trafficker and other criminals to imply that no one was injured by their acts. The individuals involved in the recruitment and transportation of the victims hold that their actions were justified as they were only helping them to leave the undesirable conditions in a particular country. Thirdly, the criticism of the condemners is a common technique utilised by human traffickers. This technique refers to the attitude that the condemners of human trafficking that law enforcers are themselves unfair, corrupt, and deviant. This practise is common in countries where vices such as corruption and economic meltdowns are prevalent. Countering this technique can be tricky and involving for the government agencies of such systems. Another common neutralisation technique applied by human traffickers is the appeal to higher loyalties. In this case, the crime revolves around family ties and friendships. Traffickers play around with such connections to justify and continue perpetuating the criminal acts.
Human trafficking still prevails in the twenty-first century despite the advancement in technology and increment in public awareness of the illegal act. Addressing the problem in the UAE has been a part of the proactive public policies undertaken by the government. The annual reports on human trafficking in the UAE indicate an alarming number of cases of millions of affected victims globally despite the practice being a source of billions of dollars for the perpetrators. Human trafficking has recently been connected to other major global crimes that include human smuggling, money laundering, drug trafficking, and prostitution. The addressing of the heinous act has caused government agencies to face a plethora of complex challenges that form the fundamental purpose of this dissertation. It is time for the government of the UAE to employ an integrative approach in its undertaking to combat human trafficking to stop the coercion and exploitation that victims go through in the hands of the hard-hearted merchants.
This dissertation proposal utilizes a qualitative approach. Interviews and questionnaires will be used to collect detailed information about the victims concerning their countries of origin, gender, age, reasons for travel, and promises from their traffickers among others.
The purpose of this proposal is to gauge the current situation on human trafficking, in UAE, to identify the government’s commitment towards combating the crime and propose the best approaches that the government can embrace to successfully end human trafficking.
- How is the current human trafficking situation in the UAE?
- What strategies can the government adopt to combat human trafficking in the UAE?
Data Analysis and Research Findings from Previous Studies
This section presents the research findings as contained in the UAE government report on combating crime. The focus of this section is centrally on the perpetrators of human trafficking. Later, the paper will present recommendations on what needs to be done to aid the government effort of stopping the criminal act. The UAE government has made concerted efforts in the fight against human trafficking by initiating robust measures geared towards helping the victims through the ‘5Ps’ strategy that entails the prevention, prosecution, punishment, protection, and promotion of willing cooperation.
The UAE government through Federal Law 51 (2006) has continued to offer the legal framework for dealing with human trafficking cases. Article 1 of the law defines human trafficking as a means of creating awareness of the wider public on what the heinous act entails. Legally, the definition covers the chief aspects of human trading including the form and means of trafficking and exploitative advances utilised by the traffickers. The elaboration is also in line with other international legislation concerning human trafficking including the Palermo Protocol. This strategy has ensured the enactment of strict measures to impose hefty fines on any acts on human trade.
The UAE has collaborated with international agencies besides collaborating with the global legislation to ensure the ratification of the 2009 United Nations Protocol to prevent, suppress, and punish all acts of trafficking persons, particularly women and children who commonly comprise the list of victims. Through the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), procedures were outlined with different authorities of the UAE to deal with human trafficking locally. The procedure included the resolutions to protect the victims with the help of the police and public prosecution departments during the investigation and their placement at designed shelters.
The establishment of NCCHT in 2007 to coordinate the concerted efforts and enforcement plans at different levels in the seven emirates of the federation was a major step towards preventing human transfers. The committee, which comprised representatives from different relevant ministries, was devised to undertake several responsibilities. At the outset, it was designed to help the public understand human transfers with a view of protecting society from the heinous acts of the traffickers. Secondly, it was charged with studying reports concerning human trafficking activities and guiding the appropriate actions against the perpetrators. In addition, the NCCHT coordinated the efforts on human trafficking of the government authorities, relevant ministries, departments, corporations, and organisations. Lastly, the committee was charged with the duty of preparing reports on government undertakings aimed at combating the menace.
The UAE government joins the international campaign against human trafficking in several avenues including bilateral cooperation with international organisations.
The UAE government and the NCCHT through vigorous investigation reveal that the human traffickers and victims hail from the same countries. This situation complicates the matter thereby posing a huge challenge for the government. As a result, uncovering the tough challenge has forced stakeholders to form bilateral and multilateral cooperation. Through these formations, the UAE managed to sign labour agreements with numerous states as part of the concerted efforts to control the flow of the workforce to the country. In this manner, identifying and stopping dodgy recruitment agencies was made easier and effective.
The government through the Ministry of Interior signed cooperation agreements with over 26 countries as a part of promoting international cooperation in tackling human trafficking and protection of human rights. Besides, 29 draft agreements were signed for collaboration in anti-human transfer projects between the government and other countries. The government of the UAE has made all the necessary steps towards combating human trafficking in conjunction with other nations including enacting various protocols and collaborations.
Integration with Global Organisations
The NCCHT cooperates with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) affiliates with a view of sharing information on human trafficking through both quarterly and annual reports regarding the Arab countries including the UAE. By the comparison and analysis of such reports, the committee provides advice to the relevant ministries that initiate the appropriate actions towards human trafficking. The UAE has also participated in international workshops such as the 2012 human trafficking meeting in Malaysia, the Second Doha Forum on the Arab initiative on capacity building in Qatar, and the 13th session of the human rights review held in Geneva (Annual Report, 2013).
Public Awareness Campaign
Since 2012, the Public Awareness Campaign (PAC) has raised awareness of human trafficking through many avenues such as lectures and workshops. The foundation has intensified the campaign through major transmission outlets including the mainstream media such as print, radio, and Television broadcasting. Digital media, particularly the internet, has also played a central role in creating awareness of the campaign against human trafficking through channels such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter among others. Such platforms have been utilised extensively to spread the message that human trafficking is a critical crime threatening the economies and humanity. The Dubai Foundation for Women and Children (DFWAC) that was established in 2007 also takes a part in investigative journalism to alleviate the adverse effects of human transfers besides compiling reports on the global menace (Annual Report, 2013).
Punishment and Prosecution
The UAE judicial system has not been left behind in the battle against human trafficking. Various reports indicated that at least 47 human trafficking cases were registered under federal law 51 in 2012. This move led to the arrest and prosecution of more than 145 traffickers and the rescue of 75 victims (Annual Report, 2013). The judicial system has shown its robustness in the fight against human trafficking as it complements the efforts of other stakeholders in tackling the menace. Through its investigative efforts, the judicial system prosecuted traffickers who used digital technology, internet websites, and social media such as Facebook to befriend victims as a strategy to lure them. An example is a Filipino female trafficker who befriended a fellow compatriot on Facebook and took her to Dubai on an agreement that she would provide a job for her only to force her into sexual abuse.
The efforts to curb human trafficking do not end in the apprehension of the culprits. They also entail taking care of the victims. The UAE government has set up rehabilitation and protection programmes to help the victims through its differentiated ministries. Evidence suggests that the government of the UAE has a growing record of accomplishment in helping and protecting the victims of human trafficking including those who have been sexually abused. The main objective of the DFWAC programme is to provide free support and psychological care to women and children who have been abused. In addition, it eases access to victim-dedicated services. Communication systems have been put in place including hotline numbers and round-the-clock rescue services.
The care and rehabilitation programmes provide services such as psychological help, social amenities, legal assistance, education and training, and medication. The establishment of a shelter in Abu Dhabi (EWAA) reflects the seriousness of the UAE government in providing for human trafficking victims. The victim support facility accommodates over 60 victims who undergo rehabilitation and care programmes. The government has also mobilised the private sector with a view of enhancing corporate social responsibility to offer financial and other forms of support to the victims of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is a crime whose origin can be traced back to early civilisations including the Roman, Egyptians, and Greeks. Tackling this old practice needs robust strategies and intensified research on the motives and complex processes involved. Human trafficking is not only a domestic problem in the UAE but also a global issue that continues to evolve as the world advances in technology among other dynamics. The UAE government has remained in the frontline in an attempt to combat this crime using both internally and internationally integrated strategies.
Annual Report. (2013). Combatting Human Trafficking in the UAE. National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking: Ministry of State for Federal Council Affairs. Abu Dhabi, UAE.