Monday, June 06, 2005

It seems following the recent release of the State Departments annual report on trafficking, the news is filled with stories. There are so many of them to choose from, that I decided to repost a random pick, since for the most part they are all saying the same thing. HUMAN TRAFFICKING TO THE UAE DOES EXIST.

Arab Nations Warned on Human Trafficking

By JIM KRANE, Associated Press Writer Sun Jun 5, 4:32 PM ET

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Soaring economies lure millions of workers to the Gulf region, but authorities are struggling to deal with an unwanted byproduct: human traffickers who bring in prostitutes and unscrupulous companies that refuse to pay their imported employees.

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar — among the top U.S. allies in the Middle East — were among 14 countries warned by the U.S. State Department on Friday that they face sanctions if they do not adequately address human trafficking.
Emirates Interior Minister Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan said Sunday he was confident the State Department's "audit" condemning the country as a haven for smuggled prostitutes and child camel riders would be reversed soon.

"These reports are usually a good occasion to look at the issues from another perspective, as if you're having an auditor look at what you've done," Al Nahyan said. "We're confident that all the steps we're taking are leading to a positive outcome."

The U.S. report also slammed the four countries for exploiting the low-wage foreign laborers who underpin the construction booms underway in the Gulf. It said governments allowed companies to exploit low-paid foreign workers while withholding passports and sometimes pay.

The State Department described the labor abuses as "involuntary servitude, a severe form of trafficking."

Gulf countries, especially the Emirates, also lure thousands of foreign women who are eventually deported as prostitutes, the State Department said. A large number, it said, are forced into sexual servitude by criminals from their own countries.

Officials and analysts said the problems are genuine and most are being addressed through police training, new laws, women's shelters and other means.

"The American government is trying to manipulate these issues to impose its agenda," said Mohammed al-Roken, former chairman of the Emirates' Jurists Association.

Experts in the Emirates suggested the problems here and in Qatar, especially with prostitution and unpaid laborers, result from societies undergoing rapid economic growth and hurtling change.

Dubai's airport has become one of the world's busiest international hubs, with free entry visas handed out to passengers for shopping or tourism. Sorting out prostitutes or illegally trafficked travelers is extremely difficult, officials said.

In the Emirates, al-Roken said he knew of only two cases among hundreds where prostitutes were willing to testify against traffickers who brought them here against their will.

"It's very difficult to tell if they were forced or they came here to work and finance their families back home," al-Roken said.

At the embassy of Belarus in Abu Dhabi, Igor Bondarev said two women had sought protection in recent years, saying they had been forced into prostitution. Further investigation showed the women had decided themselves to work as prostitutes.

"They were not real victims of human trafficking," Bondarev said.

For Gulf countries that cherish close relations with the United States, the black marks from Washington are a worrying sign that the Bush administration is meddling in sensitive local affairs, said Abdul Khaleq Abdulla, head of the Gulf Research Center, a Dubai-based think-tank.

"These issues should be taken care of," Abdulla said. "But when the United States comes up with a statement like this, it's extremely worrying."

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