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Unified laws needed to win the battle against human trafficking, UAE summit hears

ABU DHABI // The war against human trafficking is being hampered by factors including a lack of unified laws in the countries affected and political differences, a summit has heard.

“Different legislation definitely affects the path of the investigation,” said Col Hamad Al Zaabi, the Ministry of Interior’s deputy director of federal investigations.

“In the country of origin they lack organisational structures, procedures and measures, so it’s very difficult for us to fight such crimes.”

Judge Rosario Aitala, senior adviser to the Senate for International Affairs in Italy, said political differences between affected countries also created hurdles.

“All of these crimes are normally transnational in nature, which is a challenge,” Judge Aitala said. “Legislations are inconsistent in different countries, as well as legal and policing practices.

“Cooperation is blocked by political problems between countries, which is clearly a major problem because when I have to prosecute someone smuggling or trafficking people through borders, I need to get evidence in each country.”

The two were speaking at the Unity of Security Forum in Abu Dhabi, organised by Interpol.

The UAE has made sustained efforts to fight the crime, with 54 criminals arrested in 2015 from 17 cases of trafficking.

And although statistics suggest there is growing awareness among the public about it, a lack of education in origin countries remains an obstacle, Col Al Zaabi said.

“We found that organisations are now more professional,” he said. “But the level of ignorance is a challenge and one of the main reasons criminal organisations are using victims with such ease is because they are not aware or educated.

“In one of the cases we found, the victim was sold by her parents, which is due to a lack of education.”

Col Al Zaabi said human trafficking required preventive measures and regulatory organisations to enforce them.

“We also face a lack of cooperation from the victims, who believe they were trafficked for a valid reason and not as victims,” Col Al Zaabi said.

Last year, 120 million girls in the world experienced sexual violence and 220 million children under 5 do not have a birth certificate, making it hard for authorities to trace their movement and that of their families.

“Human trafficking is a societal issue so law enforcement has a big role to play in this,” said Michael Moran, assistant director at Interpol’s vulnerable communities unit.

“It can often have very strong links to instability and poverty, so prevention is a prime tool in dealing with it.

“Source countries are the least equipped to deal with the problem, so we have to consider the issue of transferring skills and funding to those countries.

“Unless that teaching is done in a structured and sustainable way, then your breath is wasted.”

Last year, one billion children around the world experienced some sort of violence.

“The lack of attention to issues related to violence in childhood is indeed a threat to people’s security,” said Dr Susan Bissell, director of the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children at Unicef.

“The impact of violence in early childhood has a profound impact on a child’s brain development and violence is contagious, so if it isn’t addressed it can lead to the victim becoming perpetrators of violence themselves.”

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