Railway Police committed to curbing human trafficking and migrant smuggling in Pakistan

Lahore, 05 April 2018 -United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in partnership with Pakistan Railways Police conducted a sensitization session at Lahore. This is part of a series of sensitization workshops being conducted for Police to raise the awareness level of the officials regarding Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. Sixty police officials from across the country participated in the session along with senior officials of Pakistan Railways Police. 

The officers of Pakistan Railways Police have been sensitized particularly as the railway is the most common mean of carrying the victims to sell them off into the hands of placement agencies or other buyers. The move to train the Railways Police has been made to check the use of Pakistan as a transit route or source for human trafficking. The session aimed at educating officers about the issues of trafficking, particularly its adverse impact on human beings, prevention as well as eradicating human trafficking and highlighting the role of Pakistan Railways Police. One of the most important factor is the protection of victims which was duly highlighted in the session. It is worth to note that Railways Police is already working to assist the citizens through its help centers in which they provide assistance and protection services especially to unaccompanied children and women. This will further lead to identification of the trafficking victims and extend right assistance to prospective victims.

The session was chaired by Dr. Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Khan, Inspector General Pakistan Railways Police along with Deputy Inspector General Mr. Jawad Ahmed Dogar, Deputy Inspector General Mr. Shariq Jamal Khan and Deputy Inspector General Mr. Naeem Ahmed. 

The session started with welcome and opening remarks from Deputy Inspector General Mr. Shariq Jamal Khan. He welcomed all the participants from Pakistan Railways Police and highlighted the importance of curbing the issues related to Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. While emphasizing the role of Railways Police he added, "Human Trafficking is a global problem but the railway is the most preferred mode of travel and therefore is the most vulnerable transit point through which trafficking takes place. Railways Police can prove to be vital for curbing this issue."

Mr. Ehsan Gilani from UNODC, delivered a session on basic concepts of Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling while providing an insight on the United Nations  Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary protocols on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. He further shared the latest trends and routes originating from Pakistan to Europe. During the session Mr. Gilani said, "Federal Investigation Agency is the lead agency to control human trafficking and migrant smuggling in Pakistan with the role to control human smuggling and external human trafficking." As far as internal human trafficking is concerned, police authorities are responsible for apprehending illegal migrants, maintaining law and order in informal settlements of illegal migrant communities, taking internal human traffickers into custody and registering cases under Pakistan Penal code-PPC.

Deputy Inspector General Mr. Jawad Ahmed Dogar delivered a presentation on Evolution of Pakistan Railways Police and its current challenges. In his session he highlighted the police investigation and the role of Police in combating the menace. He added that sensitization among the Railways Police is necessary to combat trafficking. Mr. Dogar said, "The intervention of Railway authorities on receiving of any information should be prompt so that immediate help and assistance is provided at the time."

Inspector General of Police Dr. Mujeeb-Ur-Rehman Khan appreciated the efforts of UNODC and stressed the need for sensitization and coordination amongst relevant Law Enforcement Agencies. He said that people are forcibly sent abroad for different reasons including organs removal and sexual exploitation which devoid them of their basic human rights. He concluded his remarks by saying, "A safe and protective environment would be ensured at railway stations across Pakistan. Surveillance would be strengthened to control the issue."

Apart from these sessions, two sessions were also delivered by young officers of Pakistan Railways Police along with a session by UNODC Consultant Mr. Asif Jah on raising the awareness level of the community and other relevant stakeholders. 

All the senior officials and participants agreed that the issue needs a proactive approach which can only be adopted with an aggressive awareness campaign at all tiers of the social strata i.e. community, grass root level, opinion makers, local bodies' representatives, journalists, etc.