ISLAMABAD - Trafficking of Pakistani males to the European Union (EU) for forced labour is an emerging area of concern while trafficking of women and children from here to the Persian Gulf for sexual exploitation is also on the rise, alarms a United Nation body, portraying a murky picture of the situation of human trafficking and migrant smuggling in Pakistan.
The report also says that Pakistan is a destination, transit and source country for smuggling of migrants and human trafficking, as Pakistani nationals are among the ten-most detected nationalities that attempt irregular migration to EU and Australia.
The Country Office for United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Pakistan unveiled this research report titled “Recent trends of human trafficking and migrant smuggling to and from Pakistan” here on Thursday. Senior officers of Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), including Director General FIA Saud Ahmed Mirza were also present on the occasion besides government officials, members of diplomatic community and media persons.
This report was commissioned to further enhance understanding of the phenomena within the country by developing profiles of transnational movers to, from, and through Pakistan: both irregular migrants and victims of trafficking, as well as those agents and facilitators who profit from the crimes.
Thought the UN body, in its report, has not shed light on the alleged ‘apparent’ involvement of FIA, the country’s premier investigation agency, overseeing human trafficking and migrant smuggling, yet it has also identified trends of human trafficking and migrant smuggling and the devious methods used by traffickers/smugglers to circumvent border controls.
The report has given a number of recommendations to the Government of Pakistan and FIA on legislation, prosecution, protection and prevention sides to curb this menace
Trafficking in persons from Pakistan:The report says that trafficking of Pakistani males to the European Union (EU) for forced labour is an emerging area of concern. The number of male potential victims detected became statistically significant in 2011, comprising approximately 25 per cent of the total number of third-party victims going to the EU.
Pakistani and Chinese were among the most detected victims. A majority of Pakistani victims are found in Spain, and are trafficked for the purpose of forced labour. This finding from the EU appears to be consistent with the problem of internal trafficking of men within Pakistan for the purpose of forced labour.
The research report divulges that trafficking of women and children to the Persian Gulf for sexual exploitation continues. No reliable statistics indicate the magnitude of the problem. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that women and girls are trafficked to the United Arab Emirates regularly to work as dancers but are subsequently subjected to sexual exploitation.
Minors are regularly trafficked using fraudulently obtained documents that certify them to be adults. Document fraud begins with a false birth certificate, which becomes the basis of an application for identity documents and passports.
The criminal networks engaged in the trafficking of women and girls are highly organized and sophisticated. There are transnational partners, particularly at venues and hotels in the United Arab Emirates, involved in the application for visas.
Trafficking in persons to Pakistan:
There is little information on trafficking of persons to Pakistan. Anecdotal evidence suggests that victims of trafficking are among the large number of irregular migrants to Pakistan. In particular, there is evidence of women and children being trafficked to Pakistan for sexual exploitation., some times in the form of forced marriages. NGO workers have reported the presence of Chinese, Russian, Nepali, Iranian and Bangladeshi women in Pakistan; these women are believed to have been trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, however, no details are available. There is no reliable statistical information to indicate the magnitude.
Smuggling of migrants from Pakistan: Pakistani nationals are among the ten most-detected nationalities that attempt irregular migration to the EU and Australia. At the same time, Afghans are one of the most detected nationalities for irregular migration and the migration patters of the two populations are entangled, and both populations use the same routes and smuggling networks. Moreover Pakistan is a key transit country for Afghans.
Smuggling of migrants to Pakistan:
The best estimate of irregular migrants to Pakistan puts the population at more than four million. Afghans are the largest group at approximately 2.7 million, followed by the combined population of Bengali, Bangladeshi and Burmese nationals at more than one million.
UNODC Representative Cesar Guedes addressing the launching ceremony of the research report stated “there has been a 18 percent increase in the number of deportees to Pakistan primarily from the European Union and the Middle East from the previous year.”
The report was designed to recommend specific actions that can be taken by the Government of Pakistan - and in particular the Federal Investigation Agency - to increase effective intervention against human trafficking and migrant smuggling said Mr. Guedes.
DG FIA Saud Ahmed Mirza speaking on the occasion said the agency would be available to all the countries for information sharing in connection with human trafficking and migrant smuggling. He said that UNODC was also establishing a research facility for this purpose at FIA Headquarters in Islamabad.