The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Federal law 51 prohibits all forms of trafficking and prescribes penalties ranging from one year to life in prison, as well as fines and deportation. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The government prosecuted 106 alleged traffickers in 25 cases, of which nine cases were brought to final verdicts, while the remaining 16 were ongoing at the close of the reporting period. This is compared with 54 prosecutions in 17 cases, of which the government concluded three in the previous reporting period. In 2016, sentences ranged from one year plus a fine to life in prison. Of the 25 cases officially registered as human trafficking, 22 related to sex trafficking, while the remaining related to attempts to sell children. No labor violations were officially registered as human trafficking cases under anti-trafficking federal law 51; however, media reports indicated the government prosecuted more than 10 individuals for forced labor-related allegations, such as restrictions on movement or physical threats and abuse to compel labor. This compares with two labor-related trafficking cases in 2015. The government did not uniformly enforce a prohibition on employers withholding workers’ passports, which remained a pervasive problem, especially for domestic workers. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials complicit in trafficking crimes.
The government continued its extensive monitoring and inspection program for private sector manual laborers, including automated electronic monitoring of salary payments for 95 percent of the private sector workforce via the Wage Protection System (WPS), identifying and settling delayed wage payments for tens of thousands of workers, and carrying out more than 200,000 labor-related inspections. However, labor law violations containing indicators of trafficking, such as delayed wage payments, unpaid overtime, or substandard housing, are rarely processed criminally but rather as regulatory violations, typically resulting in fines or the cancellation of business licenses; fines for trafficking in lieu of imprisonment are inadequate to deter the crime.
The government continued to train its officials on human trafficking in 2016. The national committee to combat human trafficking (NCCHT), Dubai police, and the Dubai judicial institute completed a first and began a second four-month, 95 classroom hour diploma program to train relevant government officials on trafficking issues, including investigations, victim protection, forced labor, and interagency and inter-emirate coordination. As of early 2017, more than 50 senior officials from police, judicial, social services, and other government ministries had enrolled in the diploma program. In addition, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) conducted 35 specialized anti-trafficking programs and lectures for judges, prosecutors, immigration officials, and workers, with total participation of more than 2,700 individuals. The MOI and Dubai police conducted eight anti-trafficking workshops and training programs for more than 200 government and private sector personnel engaged in counter-trafficking initiatives, as well as eight anti-trafficking lectures with more than 1,000 participants.