Ajman couple is jailed for trafficking Iraqi teenage girl

A couple in Ajman who bought a young Iraqi girl from her parents and for four years charged men to have sex with her were each jailed for three years yesterday.

AA, 45, and her husband RA, 52, both originally from Iraq, were convicted of human trafficking by the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance.

A male compatriot, HM, 26, was sentenced to one year in jail for aiding and abetting the crime.

AA purchased the girl, who was then 13, from her parents in Iraq for four million Iraqi dinars (Dh13,000) in 2005.

She was taken to Ajman, where she was kept locked up.

Over the next four years, AA and her husband charged men between Dh2,000 (US$540) and Dh3,000 a night to sexually abuse the girl at private parties in Dubai. The victim, now 17, was often beaten to force her to comply, prosecution records show.

In her testimony before the presiding judge, El Saeed Mohammed Bargouth, the girl said she never received any of the money the defendants charged for her, nor was any sent to her family in Iraq.

Two police officers told the court that AA and RA were arrested at Sharjah airport while trying to take the teenager to Bahrain on January 21.

They were caught in a sting operation carried out by Sharjah Police and the Investigative Department of Dubai Naturalisation and Residency Department.

The prosecution accused the couple of smuggling the victim into the UAE using a fake passport and claiming that she was their daughter.

AA and RA had denied the charges when they were first brought to court on August 16.

The girl is now being cared for at the Dubai Foundation for Women and Children, which provides counselling for victims of rape and abuse. Yesterday, Afra al Basti, the executive director of the foundation, said the couple’s three-year sentence was too lenient and did not send out a strong enough message to would-be offenders.

“We wish the sentence was harsher. This case involves a juvenile and the sentence should have been stronger to be a deterrent to all offenders and human traffickers.”

She said the girl was receiving training at the foundation to make up for the four years she spent in captivity.

“I have just seen [the victim] at the foundation and she was having a computer class,” said Ms al Basti.

“When girls in such scenarios come to us, their education level would be zero. We provided her with basic Arabic and English classes as well as mathematics lessons.

“From then on we introduce her to computers and the internet.”

The next step, Ms al Basti said, would be to locate the girl’s family and contact Iraqi authorities to arrange her repatriation.

“This situation is very critical. Some families push girls back into prostitution.”

Ms al Basti said part of the counselling the victim received was designed to help her resist any such attempt. “We have exercised a spiritual rehabilitation programme to help her understand the norms in life and the fact that what she went through was abnormal.

“Hopefully this would be enough for her to learn that she can protect herself.”

On Monday, the foundation signed an agreement with Dubai Courts intended to speed up the legal process for cases of violence and abuse against women and children.

The agreement aims to improve co-ordination between the two organisations, provide greater access to judges and legal experts for the charity and fast-track such cases to court.

It is hoped that by making the often drawn out legal proceedings quicker and less intimidating for victims, more women and children will be encouraged to report abuse.

In a related move in October, the Dubai Government announced that a task force of sociologists, psychologists, legal researchers and female prosecutors would be formed to handle all such cases.

The number of cases reaching court rose from 10 in 2007 and 20 last year to 36 in the first nine months of this year, according to official statistics.

The task force is headed by the Advocate General and will include experienced professional prosecutors. It will also work with local and federal agencies.

Meanwhile, the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking has suggested several amendments to the law.

Dr Saeed al Ghufli, the executive director of the Ministry of State for Foreign Affairs and a member of the committee, said an amendment proposal to bring the UAE’s laws in line with UN guidelines had been completed.

“There is not enough emphasis on victims of violence in the current law,” Dr al Ghufli said. “We need to bring our legislation more in line with the Palermo Protocol.”

The protocol is a UN convention on human trafficking that puts an emphasis on protecting and repatriating victims.

It was ratified by the UAE in 2008, but the country’s laws focused more on prosecution, Dr al Ghufli said.

The UAE passed its first legislation on human trafficking in 2006, setting penalties ranging from one year to life in prison and fines of up to Dh1 million.

source: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091223/NATIONAL/712229858/1010

Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 8:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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