ISLAMABAD: In a report published by the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, revealed that Pakistan has made a significant improvement to counter human trafficking and now placed in Tier-II.
Earlier, the State Department has placed Pakistan in ‘Tier-II watch list’ in 2020 as source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to be trafficking, specifically forced labour and prostitution.
It has also been indicated in the US report over the last several years that Pakistan has consistently been the source of internal trafficking, mainly forced labour and due to that the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking in Persons has placed the country in its ‘Tier-II watch list’ in 2020.
The report also highlighted that if the measures and recommendations provided are not taken seriously then the country might come down to ‘Tier-III’. However, the government of Pakistan took the matter seriously and undertook significant efforts, which made them progress towards ‘Tier-II’ as per the US State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons’ report published on July 19, 2022.
The report reflects how the government has put overall efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore, Pakistan has been upgraded to ‘Tier-II’.
These efforts included increase in investigations, prosecutions, and convictions, under 2018 Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act (PTPA). The federal government referred the victims for protection services, while the provincial departments increased implementation of standard operating procedures on victims’ identification and also trained stakeholders.
The government allocated resources for the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and amended the PTPA to remove provisions that allowed fines in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking crimes with women and children as victims. Syed Kausar Abbas, Executive Director Sustainable Social Development Organisation said that his organisation has recently launched a helpline to combating further the issue at country level, as well as a source of information for all stakeholders, including the general public.
He said the helpline would provide a platform to the potential victims that contained both human trafficking for sex and forced labor. He explained that free legal aid would be provided to the victims or their relatives.