Pakistan passes law in battle against human trafficking

Shah, Arab News, April 13, 2018

convicted of smuggling or trafficking people will face up to 14 years in jail
and a fine of up to two million rupees

is one of the top 10 nationalities caught illegally migrating to Europe and
Australia, according to the UN

Pakistan’s National Assembly has for the first time passed a law designed to
tackle human trafficking to European and other countries.

the bill to a vote in the National Assembly, Secretary for Interior Dr.
Muhammad Afzal Khan Dhandla said the law would help “prevent and combat the
smuggling of migrants,” with the help of national and international

He said that since human trafficking involves multiple international
jurisdictions, it is important for agencies within Pakistan and in other countries
to cooperate in fighting the crime.

Federal Investigation Agency [FIA] has been empowered through this law to
cooperate with relevant authorities in other countries of origin, transit and
destination of smuggled migrants,” said Dhandla. “The FIA will make reciprocal
arrangements after due administrative process to share, request and receive
information relating to the smuggling of migrants.”

Under the
law, passed on April 12, the traffickers and those who help them will face a
jail term of up to 14 years and a fine of up to two million rupees ($17,000).

said human trafficking is a major issue for Pakistan, and the new law would
help authorities tackle it effectively.

smuggling and trafficking of humans is said to be the third-most lucrative
source of organized-crime revenue after weapons and drugs, amounting to more
than $32 billion a year.

nationals are among the 10 most-detected nationalities that attempt irregular
migration to the European Union and Australia,” according to a report by the
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

December last year, an FIA report to Pakistan’s Supreme Court revealed that
6,767 Pakistanis entered European countries illegally through Iran in 2017
alone. In the same time, 27,749 were deported: 18,810 from Iran, 4,401 from
Turkey and 4,538 from EU countries.

report said that the most common overland route for illegal migration was from
Pakistan to Iran, then on to Turkey and Greece.

illegal migrants leave Pakistan via unmanned or unofficial border crossings
located along unfrequented routes into Iran,” it explained.

Court Barrister Mohammed Iqbal Duggal said the law makes the human smuggling a
court-recognized, non-bailable and non-compoundable offense, as deterrent to

smuggling is not only a human-rights violation but also gives Pakistan a bad
name,” he said.
He also suggested the government should arrange specialist training for FIA
officials and magistrates tasked with dealing with the offense, to ensure
effective implementation of the law.

advocate Sharafat Ali, who deals with human-rights and human-trafficking
issues, said the law would help strengthen the work of the Ministry of Interior
and related departments, such as the FIA, but that “the real issue remains its
implementation in letter and spirit.”

He said
the government must sign bilateral and multilateral treaties with other
countries, especially in the European Union, where the majority of Pakistani
illegal migrants end up, to develop a mechanism to discourage the practice.
“Pakistan alone cannot fight it … it must seek international cooperation and
this law empowers the government to do so,” said Ali.

in the day Reuters, quoting anonymous sources in the Trump administration,
reported that the United States could cut civilian aid worth tens of millions
of dollars this year to Pakistan if the country failed to do enough to combat
human trafficking.

has been on the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons report’s “tier-2
watch-list” for four years and unless it is upgraded, it will drop to the third
tier, the lowest level, alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria, among others.

“The government may not be able to eliminate it completely but it can reduce
this inhuman business significantly by ensuring full implementation of the
law,” said Duggal.