The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with the interior and law ministries’ assistance, has been working to identify gaps in the domestic legislation and to enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies in combating human trafficking.
More than 4 million irregular migrants in the country raises questions over the legislations in place as UNODC presented the first draft of “Act to Prevent and Combat Trafficking in Persons especially women and children 2013,” to a group of parliamentarians on Wednesday.
University of Queensland Professor Andreas Schloenhardt briefed participants on the provisions contained in the draft laws, suggesting that improved legislation could help Pakistan in combating the problem. The proposed laws were drafted after feedback from relevant national stakeholders.
Because the number of prosecutions under the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance 2002 is very low and Pakistan is yet to adopt specific legislation against migrants smuggling, UNODC has suggested the government adopt the “Model Law against the Smuggling of Migrants.”
UNODC recommends FIA establish a mechanism for cooperation with other law enforcement agencies to enable joint or multi-agency investigations as its lack of coordination and cooperation with other law enforcement agencies makes the issue more challenging at lower levels. It has suggested that the Federal Investigation Agency’s abilities need to be enhanced so officials can collect evidence other than witness testimonies.
According to FIA figures, the number of Pakistani nationals deported for immigration violations in transit countries has remained relatively stable at more than 52,000 individuals a year since 2009.
Defining it as modern day slavery, UNODC Country Representative Cesar Guedes said that work in Pakistan was part of the greater regional strategy. Pakistan ---sharing its borders with Afghanistan and routes to central Asain countries that also touch base with some Gulf States--- needs greater cooperative work.
The law will help in implementing the provisions contained in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and contains two protocols, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children and the Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air.
Senator Raja Zafarul Haq, commenting on the issue, said thousands of Pakistanis today were opting to go abroad for a better economic future.
“Our laws need to be improved and at the same time we need political will to check human trafficking.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2013.