The United Arab Emirates has joined forces with 47 countries under Interpol in Operation Liberterra, a global crackdown on migrant smuggling and human trafficking gangs.
The international joint operation, launched earlier this month, resulted in the arrest of 286 individuals all around the world, including 12 in the UAE, state news agency WAM reported on Monday.
According to the UAE’s Ministry of Interior, 430 victims of human trafficking and 4000 victims of illegal immigration were saved in the global operation.
Law enforcement officials from different countries participated in Operation Liberterra between July 5 and 9, carrying out about 500,000 inspections at checkpoints and airports as well as at hotspots identified through intelligence and investigations, according to Interpol.
UAE agencies launched a parallel awareness campaign targeting tourism staff, public transport drivers, workers in industrial areas, domestic workers recruitment offices in an attempt to raise awareness about the various forms, means and ways of human trafficking.
The UAE, which was the first country in the region to pass a comprehensive law to fight human trafficking in line with all international laws and treaties in 2006, led a national team through the MOI.
“Human trafficking is one of the major security threats being faced by countries across the world. It has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry led by organized criminal groups,” Lt Colonel Dana Humaid from the UAE’s Ministry of Interior said.
“While it is challenging to determine the scale of the problem, experts agree that millions of victims are trafficked every year, either for forced labor, sexual exploitation, removal of organs, or people smuggling.”
Humaid also said, “The human cost beyond those immediately effected on families, on friends, and communities is incalculable.”
Four international operations rooms were established in Lyon, Panama, Khartoum and Abu Dhabi, to coordinate international police efforts and information sharing. The operation was in collaboration with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), EUROPOL, the International Organization for Migration and the Regional Operational center Khartoum (ROCK).
Humaid added: “We are proud that the UAE has been able to support Interpol, and this important and successful operation. As many of you will know, the UAE has been an active player in the campaign against human trafficking, and firmly believes in the importance of strong national as well as international efforts to combat human trafficking. Interpol, and the international cooperation which underpins it, is one of the key ways we – and the international community – will beat these transnational criminal threats.”
“The UAE currently maintains a network of shelters to protect and rehabilitate victims. We also have a dedicated hotline to facilitate the reporting of cases of human trafficking and to enable victims to request protection.”
“However, given the transnational nature of human trafficking, no country can combat human trafficking by itself. It is critical that there is cross-border cooperation. This is where the Interpol plays a critical role. It facilitates the sharing of information and operational collaboration between member countries. INTERPOL also assists member countries in developing long-term capabilities through trainings, events and access to resources.”
Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock praised the countries involved:
“Operation Liberterra is a five -day snapshot of the global trafficking and smuggling situation and how multinational highly organized criminals networks only focus on one thing : Profit," he said.
“With 22 criminals groups dismantled, it also shows what coordinated ,global law enforcement action can achieve” he added.