649 cases under human trafficking law
PESHAWAR – About 649 cases have been registered across the country under the law dealing with human trafficking. In 22 of these cases the accused persons were convicted by trial courts over the past two years.
NWFP Law Department Additional Secretary Fida Hussain Afridi said at a seminar on November 23, that the Prevention of Human Trafficking Ordinance was promulgated in 2002 and since then a total of 621 persons had been arrested under the law.
He said out of 649 cases registered, challans (final charge sheet) were submitted to the concerned courts in 257 cases. The provincial seminar on Human Trafficking was arranged by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) here and was addressed by participants from various spheres of life, including government officials, NGOs’ representatives and academicians.
The regional representative of IOM office for West and Central Asia, Richard Danziger, said although there were certain flaws in the ordinance but presently it was an important piece of legislation.
He said there was very small difference between human trafficking and human smuggling and there was need to understand that distinction. Mr Danziger said in the cases of trafficking normally the victims were not aware what was going to happen to them after they were moved to another country. “It is very difficult issue as normally the victims don’t come forward out of fear of organized groups of traffickers,” he further said.
Another problem, he added, was that due to complexity of the issue they were not having enough information and accurate data in this regard. Mr Afridi said the activities going on against human trafficking on international and national level should also be trickled down to local governments’ level as the councillors and nazims were also community leaders elected on grassroots level.
He said the provincial government had constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the provincial home secretary for checking violations of human rights. Mr Afridi assured the seminar that in case legislation was required on provincial level for combating human trafficking, they would go ahead with it.
He put forward various suggestions for curbing the menace of human trafficking, saying proper administrative measures should be taken and capacity of the concerned agencies and other stakeholders be built.
“The developed countries should also pay heed to the issue and facilitate employment generations for the people of the developing countries as in most of the cases poor people were trapped by the traffickers on the pretext of providing them jobs in the West, including Europe and the US,” Mr Afridi added.
The participants put forward various recommendations for protecting and preventing human trafficking and prosecution of the offenders. They proposed that the capacity of the NGOs, government departments, media and other members of the civil society should be improved for tackling the problem.
They added that people living below poverty line should be properly assisted and their skills should be developed. The participants also proposed that marriages and child births should be properly registered so as to check illegal movement of women and children abroad.
They added that teachers and religious scholars should also be trained for creating awareness among the masses about the menace of human trafficking. The project coordinator of IOM, Ms Shameela Ahmad, said human trafficking was modern form of slavery and was a rapidly growing phenomenon.
“Life of victims is put at stake by organized groups of traffickers for the sake of huge profits. It is the most lucrative business second to narcotics trafficking and gunrunning,” she added.
The resident director of Aurat Foundation, Ms Rukhshanda Naz, explained the impact of customary practices and internal conflicts in human trafficking. She said practices like Walver (bride money) and Swara had contributed to the trafficking of women and children.
Internal conflicts like the ongoing crisis in South Waziristan, she added, had resulted in the displacement of thousands of families which also resulted in trafficking of women who had been missing.
“Refugees and internally displaced persons are more vulnerable to trafficking,” Ms Naz said. Dr Waheed Chaudhry of the Department of Anthropology, Quaid-i-Azam University, said by promulgating the ordinance the government had adopted the legislative measurers and now administrative measures were required to fully implement the law. He regretted that despite the enactment of the law no major group of human traffickers had yet been arrested.