The number of human trafficking cases taken to court in the UAE last year more than doubled compared to 2008 but officials admit challenges still remain in tackling the issue.
The annual report from the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking (NCCHT) showed that 43 cases came before the courts in 2009, representing 86 trafficking victims, compared to only 20 cases the previous year, UAE daily The National reported.
Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and the head of the NCCHT, said: "As the UAE government's formal campaign against human trafficking enters its fourth year, the results from 2007 to 2009 suggest that the country has made significant and rapid progress.
"However, the UAE is also mindful of the challenges that remain. Our commitment to improve the detection and prosecution of trafficking offences is stronger than ever."
Dr Gargash warned that the number of actual abuses dwarfs that of crimes reported.
In 2009, 125 defendants were prosecuted, and 35 of the 43 cases ended in at least one conviction, the paper reported.
Most of the cases, 21, occurred in Dubai. Fifteen cases were recorded in Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, and seven in Abu Dhabi.
Under the law, a life sentence is applicable if the crime is committed through deceit, if it involves the use of force or threat of murder or bodily harm, or if it involves physical or psychological torture.
Furthermore, the 16-article law prescribes stiff penalties against traffickers ranging from one year to life imprisonment and fines of AED100,000 and AED1 million.