UN human trafficking chief to make first UAE visit

5th April 2012, Comments 0 comments

The UN's human trafficking expert will next week make her first-ever visit to the United Arab Emirates, her office said Thursday, amid calls for the Gulf state to crack down on the abuse of migrant workers.

In a report last month, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said the UAE had made progress in addressing the abuse of South Asian migrant workers, but that more safeguards were needed.

Authorities in the UAE have in recent years also busted several trafficking and prostitution rings where the victims have included women lured to the country with the promise of a job before being forced to work in brothels.

"During my mission I wish to reach out to a wide range of stakeholders and trafficked persons themselves, so that their voices are heard," said Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, the United Nations special rapporteur on trafficking in persons.

Ezeilo said she wanted to ensure that the victims' stories were considered "in the development of national laws, policies and measures related to trafficking in persons."

HRW in 2009 accused the UAE and international institutions of failing to tackle abuse of migrant workers and called for contractual guarantees from construction firms.

Since then, educational and cultural bodies and UAE developers have become more committed to ensuring, among other rights, the regular payment of wages as well as rest breaks and days off.

And many workers still have to pay recruitment fees to obtain jobs and contractors regularly confiscate passports.

In addition, workers are offered contracts in their homeland but these are substituted for "less favourable" ones when they arrive in the oil-rich Gulf state.

© 2012 AFP

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