The Filipino Times
DUBAI: Today, human trafficking victims no longer have to fear for their lives and for their security as both the governments of the UAE and the Philippines intensify campaigns to combat the crime in all its forms—from illegal recruitment to exploitation. All they have to do is reach out to the authorities and report their case. Help will promptly be on its way.
The UAE, through the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT), has recently rolled out a massive information drive for people to understand what human trafficking really is and what they should do when they find themselves in the situation.
“Most of the people who are victims of human trafficking are afraid. They are afraid of the police, because they are thinking that they might go to jail. And that is all because of the trafficker… they start putting this idea in the victim that the police and authorities are not with them,” DrSaeed Mohammad Al Ghafli, Secretary of the NCCHT and Assistant Undersecretary for Federal National Council Affairs, told The Filipino Times. “We launched the campaign primarily to let people know that they can come to us and we will help them.”
The NCCHT awareness campaigns are in posters and brochures given away to people arriving in airports, in newspapers and on the radio.
NCCHT’s public announcement includes the law on human trafficking, its definition, and importantly, the number people can call.
Anyone may dial 800-SAVE (7283) to report a case or to seek help.
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) was also recently in the UAE to reach out to Filipinos and to let them know that the Philippine government is also taking the fight against human trafficking seriously.
Secretary Imelda Nicolas, Chairperson of CFO, was recently in Dubai to empower Filipinos overseas, bring the community together, and engage them in national development even if they are thousands of miles away from home.
In an interview with The Filipino Times at the sidelines of the Regional Summit of Filipinos in the Middle East and Africa, Secretary Nicolas talked about the CFO’s intensified campaign against human trafficking, promoting the 24/7 hotline and the online desk that Filipinos could get in touch with to seek help. CFO is a member of the Inter-Agency Council Against Human Trafficking (IACAT), headed by the Department of Justice and co-chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“It’s about time that the Filipinos overseas are made aware that we have lines that are always open to help them out,” Nicolas said. Those in the Manila could dial 1343 for emergency and crisis situations, while for people in the UAE and in other parts of the world, the website www.1343actionline.ph is always ready to respond.
“The Actionline focuses on human trafficking and illegal recruitment, but if anybody has any other legal troubles for which they need some counselling, he/she can also use the website. The lawyers who respond are very accommodating and they entertain the questions,” Nicolas told TFT.
The partner agencies have also launched the mobile application of the 1343 Actionline against Human Trafficking, which can be downloaded for free from Google Play.
“Many human traffickers have already been prosecuted. And in terms of conviction, if we actually compare it with the previous administration, wherein we only had 25 convictions, we have 213 convictions in the present administration, which is a significant improvement,” said CFO Attaché Janet Ramos.
NCCHT Secretary Al Ghafli stressed that the fight against such exploitation of people should be a collaboration among countries.
“Our strategy has changed as initially we used to think that human trafficking could be stopped here in the UAE, but now we are beginning to think how we can be proactive and stop it at the source,” he said.
“However, it is very difficult, as we cannot deal with it directly. May be we can do it indirectly by Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with source countries,” Al Ghafli also said.
Currently, the UAE has four active MoUs – Armenia, Australia, Indonesia and Azerbaijian.
The UAE’s MoU with the Philippines are still in the works, but Secretary Nicolas has assured that CFO will be working on getting in touch with NCCHT to make it happen.