Multi-agency conference to prevent human trafficking and migrant smuggling

Islamabad: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in collaboration with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), with the support of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) organized a conference High Level Meeting on Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. UNODC and FIA have worked together for more than three decades to combat human trafficking.

The conference provided a platform for relevant stakeholders from the public and private sectors to hold in-depth discussions on issues related to Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM). Participants in the multidisciplinary paths had the opportunity to interact with each other and deliberate on various aspects of the subject. Detailed presentations by experts highlighted the multi-faceted issues related to human trafficking, the implications of enacted laws and the importance of collaboration between different stakeholders to eliminate these crimes.

Dr Jeremy Milsom, Representative of the UNODC Country Office in Pakistan, said in his welcome remarks: “Due to the multifaceted nature of human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and its close links with other transnational issues, no country is capable of combating this transnational threat to its own”.

According to the United Nations Trafficking in Persons Protocol, “trafficking involves the removal of persons by exploitative, deceptive, coercive or abusive means”. This threat therefore requires a coordinated and significant response at all levels: local, regional and international.

Dr Milsom added: “Human trafficking and migrant smuggling are also economic and social development issues.” However, these crimes are not characteristic of a fragile or poor country, they are experienced by nearly 100 countries in the world, regardless of the size of their economies. It should be noted that Pakistan already has in place a TIP and SOM Act, which enables it to meet its international obligations under the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, signed by Pakistan in 2010. There is a need to see the implementation of these existing national laws. and international executives.

With regard to human trafficking, he stressed, there is a need to go beyond working with “usual” stakeholders (law enforcement agencies and specialized NGOs) such as labor inspectors, trade unions, employers’ associations, the media, universities and the private sector. sector.”

In delivering the keynote address, the Additional Inspector General of Police and National Expert on Organized Crime, Dr Ehsan Sadiq expressed a firm commitment on the part of the Government of Pakistan “to undertake all possible initiatives and measures to elimination of human trafficking and smuggling”. migrants”. This commitment is reflected in the enactment of two separate laws on human trafficking and migrant smuggling, in accordance with the United Nations protocols on human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

Dr Sadiq also highlighted the contribution of the FIA, the lead government agency, in drafting and implementing new laws. Thanks to the persistent efforts of the FIA, the rules in support of the TIP & SOM Act 2018 were approved by the Cabinet in January 2021. The FIA ​​also developed the five-year national action plan to combat human trafficking. human beings and migrant smuggling (2021-2025) .

Dr. Sadiq further informed that to implement the provisions of the new laws relating to victim services and to promote public-private partnership to prevent human trafficking and migrant smuggling, FIA has signed memorandums of agreement with NGOs working in these areas. Thanks to these multidimensional efforts, Pakistan’s legal framework and coordination mechanisms have improved significantly.

Presenting an overview of national human trafficking statistics relating to suppression and referral by the provincial police, Dr. Sadiq informed that the provincial police reported that 32,022 people were trafficked in 2020, of which 15,255 women, 9,581 men, 6,937 children and 249 transgender victims. Only 30 victims of forced labor were identified in 2020, a significant decrease from 760 in 2019. Over the years, the provincial police have referred 11,803 victims of trafficking to the government or NGOs for care, including 3,744 men.

Canadian High Commissioner Wendy Gilmour spoke about Canada’s support for the conference, which she said provides a valuable opportunity where the public and private sectors can come together and collaborate in innovative ways. She expressed the Government of Canada’s continued commitment to partner with UNODC and the Government of Pakistan in these efforts. She commended officials for the implementation of the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants (2021-2025) with the creation of Anti-Trafficking Coordination Committees. humans. She hoped that enhanced cooperation between the private and public sectors and civil society would reduce human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and increase protection and services for vulnerable populations.

Provincial Women’s Development Minister, Syeda Shehla Raza, said in her address, “I strongly believe in helping to support and promote the economic empowerment of the population at risk of trafficking, especially women and the children”.

While appreciating the continued efforts of UNODC and FIA, Afshan Tehseen, Chairperson of the National Commission for the Rights of the Child, stressed: “Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants can only be addressed when all stakeholders join hands and develop a communication, coordination, and referral mechanism. Vulnerable segments of society, especially women and children, should be at the center of prevention strategies and response mechanisms.

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