Third largest global crime
Karachi:The absence of viable networking between civil society organisations and relevant government departments in South Asia hampers initiatives to curtail human trafficking. This makes the practice the third largest illegal trade in the world after drugs and weapons, a workshop was told on Friday.
The National Consultation of the South Asia Joint Regional Action Forum (JRAF) on Anti Trafficking and Safe Migration was attended by a large number of people from civil society organizations as well as government officials. This included the the Protector of Emigrants and the Human Rights department as well as representatives of the Pakistan National Federation of Trade Unions, Overseas Pakistanis Foundation, Sindh AIDS Control Programme, National Institute of Labour Administration Training and IG Prisons participated in the consultation.
Nimalika Fernando, a human rights activist from Sri Lanka and Interim Coordinator South Asian Regional Initiative (SARI/Equity) said that Sri Lanka was also facing the problem of human trafficking and said that females are mostly victims of trafficking syndicates because they migrate to foreign countries as domestic workers.
She suggested that employment opportunities should be created to avoid this trade and a policy for safe migration be adopted. She said that it is the responsibility of the women rights activists to deal with the problem.
Human Rights lawyer Zia Awan presented a report on the state of human trafficking in Pakistan and refered to national legislation and mechanism.
According to local laws, a Pakistani woman below 35 years of age is not allowed to migrate as a domestic worker. Awan argued that instead of restricting employment on the basis of a woman’s age, protective measures for the safety of a female citizen should be adopted. He also said that most women are trafficked through a visit visa process, which goes unchecked
Sharing his data on issues related to trafficking of women and children, he said that 16,404 cases of kidnapping of women and children were reported since 2000 in Pakistan. “In 2007 alone, 1,059 cases of kidnapping and 362 cases of human trafficking have been reported so far,”he said.
IG Prisons, Sindh, M Yameen Khan pointed out that the transfer of trafficking cases to Pakistan from abroad means further punishment for the victim who has already served his term. “If a victim is prosecuted in the Middle East for instance, the case should not be transferred where he is punished again and which only leads to overcrowding in our prisons,”he said.
He revealed that there are currently 6,000 prisoners in the central jail against the capacity of accommodating 1,400 prisoners. “Only 20 per cent of them are convicted while the remaining 80 per cent are under trial prisoners,”he said.
Awan suggested that a committee of govt and civil society representatives should review the SAARC convention as human trafficking is an issue of concern for all South Asian countries.
Source: The News