Cooperation is key to countering human trafficking and migrant smuggling: UNODC facilitates training on Mutual Legal Assistance request drafting

3 February, Islamabad – In a bid to strengthen international cooperation in investigating trafficking in persons (TiP) and the smuggling of migrants (SoM), law enforcement practitioners gathered in Islamabad from 25 to 26 January 2023 and 1 to 2 February 2023 for two two-day workshop trainings on specialized Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request drafting.

The workshops organized by UNODC, under the framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Asia and the Middle East (GLO.ACT Asia and the Middle East), and in collaboration with Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada, focused on raising awareness, information sharing, and skills for increased cooperation between law enforcement in Pakistan and their overseas counterparts. The workshops brought together a total of 45 participants, including 6 women, from various districts across Pakistan, representing the Punjab Police, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police, Balochistan Police, and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

“Like any other organized crime, TIP and SOM also go hand-in-hand with money laundering, terrorism, and cybercrimes. By their nature, these crimes know no borders making international cooperation an essential part of successful investigation, prosecution and restoring justice for victims” stated Alam Shinwari, Director of Anti-Human Smuggling Wing of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in his address.

Recognizing the multifaceted nature of TIP and SOM crimes, the training workshops were also attended by representatives of the FIA Economic Crimes Wing who examined linkages between financial flows and modern forms of slavery and encouraged law enforcement operators to “think outside the box” when investigating TiP and SoM cases.

“Since its establishment in December 2020, the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) Unit of Anti-Money Laundering Department aims to facilitate formal mechanisms of international cooperation through the established international and national mechanisms, such as the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Protocols as well as the MLA Criminal Matters Act of Pakistan 2020 (MLA Act)” underlined Muhammad Bilal Naeem, Deputy Director of FIA Anti-Money Laundering Department. “At the same time, we need to be aware that collection of routine information that does not require coercive measures can be and should be obtained through informal measures that, as opposed to MLA, require less time to process and have better response rates” he continued.

Furthermore, when presenting MLA Act and Guidelines for the Ministry of Interior (MOI), Tahir Awan, Deputy Secretary of International Cooperation Cell, MOI highlighted that “formal international cooperation may preferably be initiated on the basis of information obtained through informal channels as it will be more effective and has better chances of immediate reply”.

In this spirit, participants were presented with various UNODC publications, tools and databases developed to promote and facilitate informal cooperation in the fight against organized crimes.

The second day of both workshops focused on legal basis, forms, and principles of formal cooperation as well as tips for preparing an effective MLA request that is in compliance with the legislation in both requesting and requested jurisdictions, meets the evidentiary threshold, language and content requirements.  Workshops culminated in a practical exercise on drafting the MLA request with UNODC MLA Request Writer Tool based on TIP case studies prepared for the training.

The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Asia and the Middle East (GLO.ACT-Asia and the Middle East) is a four-year (2018-2022), €12 million, joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in five countries: the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Afghanistan), the Islamic Republic of Iran (I.R. of Iran), the Republic of Iraq (Iraq), the Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Pakistan). GLO.ACT-Bangladesh is a parallel initiative supported by the EU and IOM.

The project builds on a global community of practice set in motion in GLO.ACT 2015-2019 and assists governmental authorities and civil society organizations in targeted, innovative, and demand-driven interventions: sustaining effective strategy and policy development, legislative review and harmonization, capability development, and regional and trans-regional cooperation. The project also provides direct assistance to victims of human trafficking and vulnerable migrants through the strengthening of identification, referral, and protection mechanisms. The project is fully committed to mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality considerations across all of its activities.



The project is funded by the European Union.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Shahida Gillani, National Project Officer


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