With an alarming rise in human trafficking, Pakistan may devolve to the ‘Tier-3 List’, a group of 23 countries, which face various sanctions due to their failure to comply with the minimum standards to prevent human smuggling.
If this happens, Pakistan will be the first South Asian country to be put on the list.
“If Pakistan fails to improve its performance to curb human trafficking [this year], it would be degraded to ‘Tier-3’ with possibility of new sanctions,” Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General Akbar Khan Hoti informed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control on Wednesday.
“The country may face aid cut, travel restrictions – there is a possibility of sanctions that could only be waived by the US president,” he added.
He said the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2014 issued by the US Department of State revealed that the number of most-wanted human traffickers in Pakistan has jumped from 78 to 95. The country is currently on ‘Tier-2 Watch List’.
“The FIA, being the focal agency, has taken up the issue of human trafficking with the provinces, including cases of bonded labour, slavery, prostitution, domestics servitude and child labour, which need major improvement on drastic grounds,” he said.
In 2013, Pakistan was on ‘Tier-2 List’ with 72 other states, which are a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking with a large percentage of trafficking occurring within the countries. But later the country’s rating deteriorated and it was put on ‘Tier-2 Watch List’
Currently, 44 countries are on ‘Tier-2 Watch List’ in the TIP Report 2014, which do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards.
The committee’s chairman Senator Rehman Malik said thousands of people were being trafficked near Iran’s border. “All trafficked persons are being recruited by ‘Da’ish, [Islamic State],” he claimed.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a senior FIA official said the most wanted human traffickers have illegally sent around 13,201 Pakistani nationals through various routes. “We’ve intercepted estimated 21,230 people at Iran and Pakistan-Afghanistan borders in the last two years,” he said while requesting anonymity.
According to the TIP 2014 Report, 31 countries are on ‘Tier-1 List’ whose governments fully comply with the TVPA minimum standards and 88 countries are on ‘Tier-2 List’ whose governments do not fully comply with TVPA’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
Talking to The Express Tribune, FIA’s former DG Zafarullah Khan said Pakistan needs to review its laws to tight noose around most wanted human traffickers.
“The Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance 2002 and other related laws of the FIA need to be upgraded, which would for sure be helpful to scan all routes leading towards borders of other countries,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 11th, 2015.
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