KARACHI: Thirty-eight bonded labourers were set free from behind the bars of private jails on Friday.
Alo Bhel from Mirpurkhas and Moti Bhel from Umerkot filed separate petitions at the Sindh High Court. Alo said that 15 of his relatives were detained illegally in a private jail while Moti said 23 of his relatives were being held captive. The court ordered the police to free both groups of labourers and present them in court. Once in court, the freed labourers’ statements were noted down, after which the court pronounced them free to live as they wished.
According to an assessment report by the US department of state, 650 bonded labourers were rescued in the last six months. Some of these labourers have been given houses by the government. The Trafficking in Persons 2010 interim assessment report evaluated progress made by the Pakistan government to combat trafficking. Pakistan was placed on the watch list in 2009 and the interim report analyses whether any improvements have been made since then.
The good news for the country is that their efforts have been declared enough to qualify as progress. The Sindh government is continuing to implement its $116,000 project, which was launched at the end of 2005. “While the government of Pakistan has not reported any prosecutions or convictions of labour trafficking offenders […] it has reported many investigations of labour and sex trafficking offences,” said the report.