Islamabad, Pakistan 08 October 2020: Under the EU funded GLO.ACT - Global Action to Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants (GLO.ACT – Asia and the Middle East), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), conducted two – full day, sensitization workshops on “The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Acts, 2018” and "The Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Acts, 2018" for the members of High Court Bar Association and Bar Association in Islamabad from 7 to 8 October 2020. The aim to enhance the participant knowledge about provisions of United Nations Transnational Organized Crime Convention (UNTOC) and the Protocols thereto as well as augment their understanding of the Pakistani Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2018 and The Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Acts 2018. 70 members (36 female/34 male) of the Islamabad High Court Bar and the Islamabad Bar Association attended the sessions.
One of the reasons behind organizing these sessions was to help the participants become fully aware of "The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018" and "The Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Acts, 2018". Basharat Hussain, Additional Director General of the Federal Investigation Agency said that “these laws define the acts of Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) in a way that separates the two crimes, thereby, paving way for the members of bar associations to assist in the swift and speedy delivery of justice to those who seek it and those who earned it”. He further added that “before the enactment of this law, these crimes were broad and non-specific, thus, the actors of the justice system faced challenges that barred them to play role in victim’s protection, assistance, and compensation”.
Shahida Gillani, UNODC Programme Officer on Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling said, “To represent a victim of trafficking or a vulnerable smuggled migrant, lawyers handle the full range of legal issues that clients regularly face, ranging from immigration to basic civil cases to victim-witness advocacy in criminal courts and therefore, understanding the relatively new TIP and SOM laws of vital importance to them.”
The main objectives of the workshops were:
Samantha Munodawafa, UNODC GLO.ACT Policy Lead virtually delivered a session on “Evidential Challenges of Trafficking in Persons Cases”. Using case law from different jurisdictions around the world, the session highlighted how courts have handled common challenges of victim testimonies that impugn on the credibility key witnesses. Participants were provided the opportunity to apply lessons learnt to a case study to practically demonstrate how lessons learnt could be applied to the domestic context in Pakistan. Thereafter, Ms Munodawafa conducted a session to explore the possibility of on-going engagement of legal practitioners beyond with workshop through a dedicated pool of TIP and SOM legal experts, committed to proactively work together to strengthen the quality of TIP and SOM jurisprudence as they go about their day-to-day work. Ultimately this would ensure justice for victims, protection for vulnerable migrants, and accountability of organised criminal groups involved in TIP and SOM.
Speaking about the workshop, one of the participants said that, “The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act and Smuggling of Migrants Act, 2018 are not commonly discussed. We got a chance to learn more about these laws and we hope to involve our department and other government offices in working on this in the future.”
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) being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in up to five countries: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Afghanistan), Islamic Republic of Iran (I.R. of Iran), Republic of Iraq (Iraq), Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Pakistan). 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 funded by the European Union.
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Ms. Shahida Gillani, National Project Officer
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