Pakistan - UNODC recently launched a nationwide awareness campaign on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. The campaign, implemented in partnership with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) of Pakistan, aims to raise awareness, educate communities, and engage stakeholders in preventing and addressing the issues. It seeks to promote a deeper understanding of the signs, methods, and tactics employed by human traffickers and migrant smugglers. The initiative also aims to bolster the capacities of law enforcement agencies, social workers, and relevant government bodies, enabling them to adeptly identify, respond to, and counter both crimes.
The campaign builds on existing UNODC programmes and partnerships with law enforcement agencies, NGOs, civil society, journalists, and youth. Since its planning and inception stages, NGOs and civil society organizations have been engaged in roundtable discussions, providing substantial recommendations for current and future initiatives. A series of capacity-building sessions have also been organized for male and female law enforcement officers.
Focus has been placed on 31 districts considered trafficking and smuggling hotspots across the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as the regions of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.
A preliminary assessment conducted by UNODC in the 31 districts during January 2023 highlighted low levels of knowledge about human trafficking and migrant smuggling crimes among local communities. The assessment was based on 9,300 general population surveys, 62 focus group discussions, and several key informant interviews with subject matter experts. The findings show that only 55 per cent of respondents had heard of human trafficking, while 60 per cent had heard of migrant smuggling. A very small percentage, i.e., 9 per cent of respondents, knew about the 2018 local laws, namely the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act 2018 and the Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants Act 2018. Only 5 per cent of respondents were aware of a helpline or information centre providing public guidance and assistance.
The multi-platform awareness and prevention campaign utilized a variety of mediums for the dissemination of public information. This included:
In parallel with the campaign, UNODC has provided technical support to the FIA in strengthening the agency’s national helpline. This has included conducting a helpline needs assessment, identifying staffing needs, developing Helpline Standard Operating Procedures, training staff on the complexities surrounding human trafficking and migrant smuggling, and handling related calls. Additionally, technical assistance was provided in developing a Helpline Call Management System to improve the service provided to callers and for case referrals to other departments. Helpline numbers for FIA (1991) and Police (15) were printed on all campaign materials to encourage the public to reach out for the help and guidance needed.
The FIA has reported a gradual increase in the number of calls since the new setup was launched in December 2022, with the highest number of calls in the months of May, August, September, and October 2023. During December 2022 to January 2024, FIA national helpline staff received 32,402 calls related to different matters, such as the public calling to register and to check the status of existing cases registered with the agency, cybercrime complaints (such as financial frauds, fake ads, etc.), as well as to report visa fraud (836 calls), human trafficking (140 calls), and migrant smuggling threats and cases (9 calls). A gender analysis shows that 82 per cent were male callers, 18 per cent were female callers, while 5 calls were received from people identifying as transgender. A significant number of calls, i.e., 27 per cent, were related to cybercrime. It is important to note that this analysis is limited to the FIA helpline and, therefore, may not provide a complete picture of human trafficking or migrant smuggling-related calls and cases, as the public also reaches out to other law enforcement agencies such as the police, which has an independent national helpline, i.e., 15.
At present, with the completion of all major campaign activities, a post-campaign assessment is underway in the campaign districts to assess the impact of the campaign.
The campaign has been generously funded by two sources: Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and the European Union-funded Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants.
UNODC would like to thank all individuals and organizations that have provided their immense support in making this campaign possible. The campaign affirms UNODC’s commitment to accelerating efforts for the prevention of human trafficking and migrant smuggling crimes.
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 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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