(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Several companies and individuals have been fined for illegal visa trading as part of the Ministry of Interior's ongoing crackdown, a senior official has said.
According to the ministry's figures, QR4.27m was collected from fines last year.
The ministry found that 1,043 workers were illegally transferred to new sponsors, while 165 complaints of illegal visa trading were filed at the ministry and 128 were referred to court.
Brigadier Nasser Al Sayed, Director of Search and Follow-up Department, said about 51 firms were prosecuted for trading in visas and some 43 verdicts led to the arrest of violators who were imprisoned for up to one to three years.
Speaking at a two-day consultative meeting to combat human trafficking, organized by Qatar Foundation for Social Protection and Rehabilitation (QFSPR) and the UN Center for Training and Documentation in Human Rights, Brigadier Al Sayed highlighted the ministry's experience in handling human trafficking cases and said the ministry had found the illegal visa trading as a main facilitator of human trafficking and was working to end it."Expatriates working in Qatar are our partners in development and we have an obligation to protect their rights and ensure their well-being.
"The ministry strives to solve all problems that affect expatriates and among them is trafficking in persons."
Brigadier Al Sayed said most victims of trafficking were people fleeing their countries to escape poverty, hunger, wars, political and tribal conflicts and natural disasters like earthquakes.
He said the ministry would identify trafficked people through arrests of illegal migrants, inspections on companies, and follow-up on tips or complaints provided by calls or emails.
After the trafficked people are identified, their rights are to be protected as guaranteed by international legislations and these rights include, among others, the right to peace, privacy, information, legal representation, to be listened to in courts, compensation, medical and social care, shelter and the right to return home.
The ministry would take steps to help victims, including receiving them, investigating their cases as soon as possible, guaranteeing their freedom, protecting them from any threats, providing them shelter in coordination with QFSPR, changing their sponsorship, providing medical care for those sexually abused, following up their cases in courts, and providing them air tickets to return home.
The ministry has bought 2,922 air tickets for victims to return home this year, while last year 2,758 tickets were bought.
QFSPR is involved in many activities to fight human trafficking in the country, including organising awareness campaigns, carrying out research and studies on trafficking and providing support to victims, including shelter, said Dr Yousef Abdulrahman Al Mulla, Executive Director, QFSPR.
He stressed on concerted efforts to fight human trafficking and said that among the challenges they faced was lack of understanding of trafficking, inadequate legislation to combat the scourge and little awareness of the issue.