Islamabad, Pakistan: To mark the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) Pakistan organised a conference on 29th July, 2021. The objective of the conference was to highlight the challenges and issues of trafficking in persons in Pakistan, as well as the efforts taken to counter the phenomenon.
The event was hosted by the Migrant Resource Centre Pakistan (MRC), in collaboration with the Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment (BEOE) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). The Conference was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office. The event was held in a hybrid format and brought together 73 participants with representatives of academia, government, civil society organisations, media, international organisations, think tanks and subject matter experts.
Mr. Kashif Noor, Director General, BEOE in his welcome remarks spoke of the government’s three-pronged strategy where awareness is the first step, safe and legal migration is the second, and enforcement is the third step when it comes to the movement of human resources and combatting human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Mr. Noor praised the efforts of ICMPD and the MRCs in raising awareness on migration and also providing technical assistance and support to the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development in developing Pakistan’s first ever National Immigration and Welfare Policy for Overseas Pakistanis.
Mr. Ashraf Zubair, Additional Director General, FIA thanked the MRC and ICMPD for holding the conference marking the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons to raise awareness of this serious problem. Human trafficking is a global issue and needs a global solution, Mr. Zubair said. He further highlighted that human trafficking takes many forms and knows no borders. He added that the Federal Investigating Agency is committed to taking further action to bring traffickers to justice while protecting and supporting their victims. The rights of victims must come first, said Mr. Zubair.
A total of six speakers shed light on different aspects of the protection of migrants and victims of human trafficking as well as the prevention of trafficking in persons. One of the key points highlighted by several speakers at the conference was the need to establish an improved and more effective coordination and support mechanism between all government, international and national counterparts working on migration related issues geared towards raising awareness on irregular migration and combatting human trafficking.
The inclusion of civil society in the implementation of any viable strategy to combat human trafficking was considered essential. In this regard the speakers suggested partnerships between law enforcement agencies, civil society organisations, local government departments and the Migrant Resource Centres in dealing with the complex issue of trafficking in persons. The importance of such partnerships becomes even more apparent in crisis situations, such as the one brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, the speakers noted.
Other concrete recommendations made during the conference included the need for:
- Awareness-raising initiatives to improving public understanding on trafficking and smuggling;
- More protection of victims;
- Increased focus on the prosecution of perpetrators of human trafficking;
- Providing advice and warning to those who are at a greater risk of falling victim to trafficking;
- Educating potential victims on the danger of trafficking;
- Training officials on the mechanisms that can be employed to protect the victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
The conference concluded with an affirmation by all participants and speakers of their commitment to raise awareness on the issue, stop criminals from ruthlessly exploiting people for profit, and to help victims rebuild their lives.
About the Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) Pakistan:
The Migrant Resource Centre (MRC) was established in Islamabad and Lahore in 2016. The MRCs work under the auspices of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (MOPHRD) at Federal Level and with Department of Labour, Government of Punjab at the provincial level. They are supported by the EU-funded project “Improving Migration Management in the Silk Routes Countries” and implemented by the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD). The MRCs help people make informed decisions when considering to migrate. They provide different types of services: personal counselling, referrals to services for migrants, pre-departure orientation, and outreach to outgoing, intending, and potential migrants by engaging with local communities, technical, vocational institutes, universities, and government offices.