Oct 202014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/11/09ABUDHABI1070.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ABUDHABI1070
2009-11-12 12:21
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Abu Dhabi

VZCZCXRO5885
OO RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHAD #1070/01 3161221
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 121221Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3087
INFO RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI PRIORITY 8491
RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 001070

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARP

E.O. 12958: 11/11/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM ELAB KTIP KCRM AE BG CH IN NP PK RP
CE, TH
SUBJECT: UAE’S HIGH PROFILE CAMPAIGN AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKING

ABU DHABI 00001070 001.2 OF 002

Classified by Ambassador Richard Olson for reasons 1.4 (b and d).

¶1. (SBU) Summary. In the five months since the State Department
released its annual trafficking in persons(TIP) country reports, the
UAE government has taken highly visible steps to crack down on human
trafficking through enhanced measures of prevention, protection, and
prosecution. Immediate results include several recent arrests and
convictions for trafficking offenses, a series of front-page
newspaper articles detailing the government’s anti-trafficking and
victim protection efforts, and the UAE’s eighth bilateral TIP
agreement, in this case with Thailand, to prevent source country
labor recruitment abuses. End Summary.

UAE Interagency Coordination on TIP
———————————–

¶2. (SBU) The UAE National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking
(NCCHT) was established in 2007 and includes representatives from the
Ministries of Labor, Justice, Interior, Social Affairs, Health,
Foreign Affairs, and FNC Affairs, as well as State Security, the Red
Crescent Authority, and TIP victims shelters. Although a federal
body, the committee has authority to coordinate anti-trafficking
programs across all levels of government in all seven emirates. New
programs are most visible in Dubai, where human trafficking is the
most prevalent due to the role of foreign laborers in the
construction and the service industries and the city’s position as a
regional transportation hub.

Dubai Seeks Victim Protection, Criminal Prosecution
——————————————— ——

¶3. (SBU) In October, the Dubai Attorney General announced the
creation of a permanent task force to handle human trafficking cases
(septel). The task force is charged not just to investigate and
prosecute TIP cases, but also focus on victim support. To that end,
the task force will include social workers and mental health
professionals, in addition to female investigators assigned to cases
involving female victims. It is unclear whether the NCCHT had a hand
in the creation of the Dubai task force, but NCCHT Chairman Dr. Anwar
Gargash praised Dubai authorities in the press for their efforts and
discussed strategic coordination between the federal and local
entities.

¶4. (SBU) As of mid-October, Dubai authorities had brought 17 human
trafficking cases to court in 2009, compared to only 11 reported
prosecutions and convictions nationwide in 2008. In at least two
separate instances, Dubai prosecutors applied the human trafficking
law in sexual assault cases where it was alleged that the
perpetrators sought to force the victims into prostitution. In
August, Dubai criminal courts handed down five-year prison sentences
to three individuals convicted of trafficking for prostitution a
woman who was held captive for one day.

Private Sector’s Role in Trafficking Prevention
——————————————— —

¶5. (C) As in many Gulf countries reliant on foreign laborers, the UAE
has a sponsorship law open to potential abuse by human traffickers.
The NCCHT is improving victim support through quasi-private shelters
and expanded Red Crescent services. However, two significant
amendments to the UAE labor law could fundamentally alter the
dynamics of employment sponsorship and make mass trafficking of
laborers much more difficult. One of these changes has already taken
effect; the other is expected in 2010.

¶6. (SBU) The first program is a public-private partnership that
guarantees electronic deposit of wages for foreign laborers. Direct
deposits are intended to prevent abuse of the sponsorship system by
establishing a record of direct payment of wages.
An estimated 500,000 workers will be paid in this manner by the end
of 2009. All companies registered with the Ministry of Labor will be
required to ulitize the electronic payment system by May 2010. The
UAEG’s “wage protection system” has experienced some early technical
difficulties; however, Minister of Labor Saqr bin Ghobash Saeed
Ghobash told a group of business leaders in Abu Dhabi October 27 that
there were no plans to extend the May 2010 deadline.

¶7. (C) A second, even farther reaching amendment to the UAE labor law
anticipated in 2010 would allow laborers to freely change employment
after a certain period of time in the UAE. Minister Ghobash
(protect) told the Ambassador privately that the change has
government approval but has not been announced publicly. Ghobash
admitted that this was an issue of great sensitivity for the UAE
private sector, and the government needed to prepare major employers
for the change. The creation of a large pool of essentially “free
agent” laborers could improve working conditions generally and

ABU DHABI 00001070 002.2 OF 002

diminish trafficking of laborers who have no recourse when forced
into bonded labor.

UAE Expands International TIP Cooperation
—————————————–

¶8. (SBU) The UAEG arranged for anti-trafficking experts from the
International Organization for Migration (IOM) to visit the country
earlier this year to train law enforcement officials and NGO
representatives how to identify trafficked persons and traffickers
and how to interview potential victims. The government also invited
the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons to visit the
country.

¶9. (SBU) The UAEG now has bilateral agreements with eight labor
exporting countries: India, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka,
Bangladesh, Nepal, China, and Thailand. The agreements vary in
content but share the intent of involving government labor ministries
in the contracting of laborers as a means of undermining illegitimate
private recruiting agencies. At least four source countries now have
a minimum wage standard that must be incorporated into legal
contracts involving their nationals working in the UAE.

¶10. (SBU) Comment. When the USG’s annual TIP report downgraded the
UAE to the Tier II watchlist earlier this year, the government’s
reaction was unsurprisingly negative. In the five months since, we
have been encouraged by the significant efforts undertaken by the
Ministry of Labor, the NCCHT, and local entities to foster an
integrated anti-trafficking strategy. End Comment.

OLSON

   

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.