Anti-human trafficking move

KATHMANDU: Human traffickers who traffic people to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will face stern punishment, Khaleej Times reported today. The UAE government is planning to introduce more stringent visa and punishment rules to combat the menace.

The UAE is a popular destination for Nepali migrant workers with 250,000 Nepali blue-collar jobseekers working there. But, in the recent past, the number of Nepali migrant workers going to the UAE declined from 1,710 (mid-March to mid-April) to 768 (mid-April to mid-May) due to the impact of the global economic crisis there.

Everyday 25-35 Nepali girls reach Gulf countries Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Lebanon through illegal routes via India. The Nepal government has been discouraging Nepali women from going to Gulf countries because of reports of rampant violence and sexual harassment there.

“We have proposed to change visa rules and the federal law on human trafficking to combat crime,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Ghafli, head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee (AHTC). He declined to elaborate on the new anti-trafficking rule as it is in the cabinet for approval.

The UAE has been facing international criticism over its labour input which is a remarkable number based on human trafficking. It has already signed cooperation agreements with major labour outsource countries India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and China to combat human trafficking.

According to Al Ghafli, the number of human trafficking cases in the UAE since 2008 was 20, up from 10 the previous year, and 80 per cent of the victims having been forced into prostitution. Those convicted received jail sentences of up to 10 years.

The UAE is planning to end human trafficking with almost zero targets in 2012. It is second in the US State Department’s list of countries in working against human trafficking.