Public-Private Partnership Conference to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants 

25 March 2022, Islamabad, Pakistan - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in collaboration with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), with the support of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) organized a high-level, Public-Private Partnership Conference to Prevent Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants. UNODC and FIA have been collaborating for over three decades to curb trafficking in persons. 

The Conference provided a platform for the relevant stakeholders of the public and private sectors to hold extensive discussions on the issues related to trafficking in persons (TIP), and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM). Participants with multidisciplinary backgrounds had an opportunity to interact with each other and deliberate on various aspects of the subject. Detailed presentations from experts highlighted multifaceted issues related to Trafficking in Persons, the implications of enacted laws, and the importance of collaboration between various stakeholders to eliminate these crimes. 

Dr. Jeremy Milsom, Representative UNODC Country Office Pakistan, in his welcome remarks stated, “Due to the multifaceted nature of human trafficking and migrants smuggling, and its close connections with other transnational issues, no country is capable of combating this transnational threat on its own”. This threat, therefore, requires a coordinated and meaningful response at all levels: local, regional, and international.

Dr. Milsom further said, “Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants are also issues of economic and social development”. However, these crimes are not characteristic of a fragile or poor country, they are faced by nearly 100 countries worldwide, irrespective of the size of their economies. It should be noted that Pakistan already has a law on TIP and SOM, which allows it to meet its international obligations under the United Nations Transnational Organized Crime Convention, signed by Pakistan in 2010. There is a need to see the implementation of these existing national and international frameworks. In regards to human trafficking, he emphasized, there is a need to go beyond working with the 'usual' stakeholders (law enforcement agencies and specialized NGOs) such as labour inspectors, trade unions, employers’ associations, media, academia, and the private sector.”

Delivering the keynote address, Additional Inspector General of Police and national expert on organized crime, Dr. Ehsan Sadiq expressed a strong commitment on part of the Government of Pakistan to undertake all possible initiatives and steps for the elimination of trafficking in person and smuggling of migrants. This commitment is reflected in the enactment of two separate laws on human trafficking and migrant smuggling, in line with the UN Protocols on the Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants Protocols. As a result of FIA’s persistent efforts, the Rules in support of the 2018 TIP & SOM Act were approved by the Cabinet in January 2021. FIA also developed the five-year National Action Plan to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling (2021-2025). 

The Canadian High Commissioner, Wendy Gilmour highlighted Canada’s support for the conference which provides a valuable opportunity for the public and private sectors to collaborate in innovative ways. The Government of Canada is committed to partnering with UNODC and the Government of Pakistan in these efforts. She commended officials for implementing the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants (2021-2025) with the establishment of the Anti-Human Trafficking coordination committees.

While appreciating the continued efforts of UNODC and FIA, Ms. Afshan Tehseen, Chairperson of the National Commission on the Rights of Children, emphasized that there is a need for the stakeholders to join hands and develop effective communication, coordination, and referral mechanism to address Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smuggling. Vulnerable segments of society, particularly women and children, should be made the focus of prevention strategies and response mechanisms. The government should give it more importance by ensuring that the concerned agencies particularly FIA and police have sufficient financial and technical resources to deal with these threats.

Honorable Provincial Minister for Women Development, Syeda Shehla Raza was the chief guest of the inaugural session. She noted that due to the limited resources of the government, a public-private partnership will help develop an inclusive approach to addressing human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants. In this regard, support and promotion of socio-economic empowerment of the vulnerable segments, particularly women and children, is critical.

The conference saw presentations from several speakers. Ms. Shahida Gilani, Programme Officer, UNODC, provided an overview of the role of UNODC Pakistan in controlling TIP and SOM; Mr. Naveed Shirwani deliberated on strengthening the role of CSOs in preventing TIP and SOM; Mr. Arshad Mehmood highlighted various initiatives of the private sector in addressing TIP and SOM; and Dr. Shabbir Hussain, National Consultant, UNODC, proposed a way forward.

The conference saw the participation of 90 high-level officials, including senior government officials, law enforcement officers, leading civil society organizations, heads of the corporate/private sector organizations, NGOs, INGOs, the media, academia including universities, UN agencies/diplomats, and others. 




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