Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November 2014, 14:08 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Pakistan

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 5 June 2006
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Pakistan, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d8a644.html [accessed 26 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Pakistan (Tier 2)

Pakistan is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children for the purposes of sexual exploitation, involuntary servitude, and servitude as child camel jockeys. Pakistani women and men migrate voluntarily to Gulf states, Iran, Turkey, and Greece for work as domestic servants or construction workers; men are recruited for work in Iraq. Some of these men and women, however, may find themselves in situations of involuntary servitude when faced with overwhelming recruitment and transportation fees, restrictions on their movement, non-payment of wages, and physical or sexual abuse. Pakistani girls are also reportedly trafficked to the Gulf for sexual exploitation and Pakistani boys are trafficked primarily to the U.A.E. and Qatar to serve as camel jockeys. Pakistan faces a significant internal trafficking problem reportedly involving thousands of women and children trafficked from rural areas and sold to settle debts and disputes or forced into sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, or marriage. Unconfirmed estimates of Pakistani victims of bonded labor in the brick, glass, carpet, and fishing industries are in the millions. Women and children from Bangladesh, India, Burma, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan are also trafficked to Pakistan for sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. In addition, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Nepalese, and Burmese women are trafficked through Pakistan en route to the Gulf or Greece.

The Government of Pakistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. This year, the government established a national plan of action to combat trafficking in persons; approved a special cell within the Ministry of Interior to coordinate its anti-trafficking response; trained police officers, attorneys and judges on anti-trafficking measures; and made progress in investigating trafficking cases. The Ministry of Interior, with the assistance of IOM, also opened a shelter for trafficking victims. Nonetheless, NGOs report that local governments in Pakistan often prosecute and punish victims of trafficking for prostitution, immigration violations, and adultery under Islamic Hudood Ordinances rather than providing them with protection. The government similarly failed to curb internal trafficking for sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Pakistan should stop punishing trafficking victims, institute measure to address internal trafficking, and broaden public awareness campaigns to reach more at-risk populations.

Prosecution

The Government of Pakistan improved its efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking cases this year. The government reported investigating 765 cases of trafficking, of which 448 were filed for prosecution, but some NGOs report concern that smuggling rings are confused for trafficking at the provincial level. During the year, 92 traffickers were convicted for trafficking offenses, but the majority received light sentences ranging from fines to less than six months in jail. Pakistan, in cooperation with IOM, instituted training programs for police officers, attorneys, and judges on methods of investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases. In addition, the government introduced a bill in the National Assembly to expedite trafficking cases through the judicial system.

Despite the establishment of provincial anti-trafficking units, the government did not provide sufficient evidence of serious efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of internal trafficking, including instances of bonded and forced child labor, which are not specifically criminalized by Pakistan's Human Trafficking Ordinance of 2002. The Bonded Labor System Abolition Act outlaws bonded labor, cancels all existing bonded debts, and forbids lawsuits for the recovery of such debts. The Act establishes penalties of up to five years' imprisonment and fines of $833 for violating its provisions. Nevertheless, this and other laws criminalizing bonded and child labor were rarely used to sentence violators to jail. Most convicted offenders received fines less than $20. The government similarly failed to vigorously investigate and prosecute government officials facilitating trafficking, arresting only two officials for corruption this year. Sentences given to sex and labor traffickers should be increased so that they are commensurate with the severity of the crime, and law enforcement efforts against internal trafficking and corruption involving trafficking should be improved.

Protection

This year, the government took some noticeable steps to improve its protection efforts for victims of trafficking. Pakistan cooperated with IOM to open a model shelter for trafficking victims in Islamabad providing medical, psychological, and legal care. Since its opening, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) referred 12 trafficking victims to this shelter for protection. For victims not located in Islamabad, the government provided victim assistance in 276 temporary shelters where victims received medical treatment, limited legal representation, and vocational training. Pakistan also provided training for investigators on methods of identifying and protecting victims of trafficking, although some NGOs report the need for greater sensitivity training at the local level. In Lahore, the Child Protection Welfare Bureau assisted in the repatriation and reintegration of 325 child camel jockeys returned from the U.A.E.

Despite these improvements, the practice of punishing victims of trafficking for prostitution and other charges under Hudood Ordinances remains a problem that warrants investigation and action by the Government of Pakistan. Although data regarding the extent of the practice are unavailable, NGOs allege the frequent prosecution of trafficking victims under Pakistan's law prohibiting sex outside of marriage. According to NGOs, trafficking victims may also face prosecution for adultery or rendering false accusations if their rape cases under the Hudood Ordinances fail. The government should take immediate steps to prevent such prosecutions and punishment of trafficking victims and investigate allegations that victims of trafficking are exploited by guards and other government employees in the temporary shelters. To prevent further victimization, the Government of Pakistan should also increase its efforts to protect the privacy and identity of victims. On more than one occasion, after large trafficking arrests, police have released the names of trafficking victims to the media.

Prevention

The Government of Pakistan made some progress in its anti-trafficking prevention initiatives over the year. Following the October 2005 earthquake, the government sent federal Anti- Trafficking Units to earthquake-affected areas of the country to prevent the trafficking of orphaned or otherwise vulnerable children. The government also established an identification system used at airports to monitor immigration patterns for signs of trafficking. Prominent radio and television appearances by the Minister of Overseas Pakistanis raised awareness of the trafficking of Pakistani nationals abroad, and the government, with assistance from IOM and foreign donors, undertook a targeted information campaign to educate people living in the rural areas affected by the earthquake on the dangers of trafficking.

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