Islamabad, Pakistan 23 September 2019 - UNODC, under the framework of the Global Action to Prevent and Address Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants in Asia and the Middle East ( GLO.ACT - Asia and the Middle East), organized from 16 to 17 September 2019 a regional conference to combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and the Smuggling of Migrants (SOM) in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Since 2014, UNODC has organized regional conferences, inviting relevant countries to further regional cooperation on TIP and SOM. Building on some of the recommendations of the October 2017 conference, UNODC, under the framework of GLO.ACT Asia and the Middle East, will continue to provide a platform for relevant regional countries to share best practices on information sharing, the development of networks of focal points across the region and on cooperation with respect to investigations, prosecutions and protection of victims.
Although, this year's conference focused on coordinating efforts with regards to assistance provided to victims of these crimes, it also served as a platform to bridge any existing communication gaps between countries. More specifically, the conference aims were to:
Jeremy Milsom, Representative, UNODC Pakistan welcomed the guests of the conference and informed the audience that, "Increased cooperation among agencies at local and provincial level has led to an increase in the number of prosecutions and arrest of traffickers and smugglers. New partners, such as the Pakistan Railways Police, identified during the implementation of GLO.ACT play an important role in controlling internal trafficking issues in Pakistan." Meanwhile, Ahmed Mukkarram, Additional Director General Immigration, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said in his opening remarks, "Committed to implementing FIA's mandate, we have taken concrete steps which include the enactment of laws on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants in May 2018 as well as the significant restructuring of the agency, leading to the establishment of several new anti-human trafficking circles across Pakistan."
Highlighting the importance of civil society, Anne Marchal, Chargé d'Affaires a.i., Delegation of the European Union to Pakistan said, "International organizations, NGOs, civil society, and relevant agencies should also play their part in supporting national efforts to combat trafficking in human beings and migrant smuggling. The EU stands ready to continue its unwavering support to these efforts, which have been exemplified through the truly outstanding work carried out by GLO.ACT and its partner countries and the considerable progress which has been and will be made in eradicating and preventing these crimes."
On the first day, delegates from respective countries spoke about good practices relating to investigating and prosecuting cases, challenges they faced with respect to regional cooperation and identified solutions on how to address these. Aimee Comrie, GLO.ACT Project Coordinator, briefed the participants on global trends and challenges related to TIP and SOM and introduced GLO.ACT Asia and the Middle East. She explained that the first phase of GLO.ACT ran from 2015-2019 and was implemented in 13 countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America and that, after the successful implementation of this phase, the second phase will be implemented in up to five countries in Asia and the Middle East.
Shehryar Ghazi from IOM stressed the importance of regional cooperation and said, "Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants are two of the key migration management challenges faced by governments around the world including Pakistan. We believe the government of Pakistan has taken considerable steps, including the passing of legislation to address these particular challenges. IOM has been working closely with the government of Pakistan and development partners through various capacity building initiatives".
On the second day of conference, Samantha Munodawafa, UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer presented on key evidential issues in TIP and SOM cases and UNODC's MLA tools, following which participants were encouraged to work in small but diverse groups through a practical case study. Prior to concluding the event, delegates engaged in thematic working group discussion with a focus on regional and transregional programming for 2019-2022, resulting in draft recommendations that focused on operational cooperation, capacity building for relevant stakeholders, awareness raising and the establishment of referral mechanisms for victim identification, assistance and protection.
Delegates from Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Morocco and Nepal travelled to Pakistan to attend the regional conference. Representatives from several embassies and high commissions, UN agencies, international/national organizations, civil society, private corporations and senior government officials from provincial police departments, Pakistan Railways Police, provincial line departments, academia and media participated in the event, in total the workshop was attended by 114 participants, 17 of which were female and 97 male.
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 four countries: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Iraq and Islamic Republic of 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.
This project is funded by the European Union.
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Ms. Shahida Gillani, National Project Officer
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