Islamabad (Pakistan), 20 September 2022 – Transnational organized crime has devastating effects on global societies and local communities, directly undermines the public capacities of states and hinder economic development. The complexity of organized crime requires an interconnected multi-stakeholder approach from different actors, including the public and private sector, academia and civil society. Through the review of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) supports State parties in tackling transnational organized crime, including through broad consultation with relevant stakeholders in accordance with Resolution 9/1.
On 15 September 2022, UNODC and the Government of Pakistan launched the first-ever Pilot Initiative in Asia, where the Director General of the Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) Mohsin Hassan Butt, publicly announced the Cabinet’s ratification of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) protocol in Pakistan. The high-level event brought together 45 senior representatives from government, civil society, academic institutions, and the private sector.
“The Pilot Initiative is an excellent opportunity to facilitate a dialogue between the Government of Pakistan and relevant stakeholders on multifaceted challenges related to organized crime” - highlighted Dr. Ehsan Sadiq, National Focal Person on the UNTOC Review Mechanism in his opening speech.
Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of Division for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs of UNODC assured UNODC support to the Government of Pakistan and stakeholders in this pioneering initiative, stressing the role of UNODC in ‘connecting the dots’ to ensure that policies on countering organized crime have a positive impact at the national level.
During the Pilot Initiative launch, the Civil Society Alliance for the Pakistan UNTOC review, a network of over 50 civil society organizations led by Tariq Khosa, Director at the Centre for Governance Research (CGR)-Pakistan presented concrete areas of recommendations to the Government, including:
Welcoming the recent ratification by the Government of Pakistan of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Protocol. Urging the further ratification of the remaining UNTOC protocols in Pakistan (protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants and protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms).
Emphasized the lack of research, calling for Increased research on organized crime and access to national data.
Addressing serious crimes and creating a centralized Task Force against organized crime to avoid fragmentation to approach the issue holistically at the national level.
Providing resources and regulations in addressing the rise of cybercrime.
Prioritizing the support to victims of organized crime, as well as to human rights, and gender issues.
“Pakistan faces significant challenges in the field of transnational organized crime, requiring coordinated efforts by the government, civil society, private sector, academia, and international stakeholders. Pakistan has an excellent relationship with the UNODC, jointly working on the areas of illicit trafficking and border management, the criminal justice system, legal reforms, drug demand reductions, prevention and treatment” - stated Abdul Rehman Khan Kanju, Minister of State for Interior. At the end of his speech, he emphasized that civil society has an important role to play particularly in safeguarding the rights of victims of organized crime. “We welcome the participation of civil society and their inputs to the Government of Pakistan in the implementation of UNTOC” - the Minister concluded.
UNODC will continue to support the Government of Pakistan and the Civil Society Alliance for the Pakistan UNTOC review in the follow-up activities related to the Pilot Initiative and hopes that other countries will be inspired to take similar actions in line with their national realities.