ISLAMABAD: The FIA Immigration Wing in a letter to all provinces has warned of Pakistan’s deteriorating position in regards to human trafficking, it has been learnt.

The letter titled “Internal/External Human Trafficking and Pakistan’s Ranking in ‘Trafficking in Persons’ (TIP) Report” which was sent to concerned officials in all provinces is exclusively available with The Nation.

According to a US State Department’s annual report “Trafficking in Persons” (TIP), all countries of the world are assessed on a point grading system. The countries which have good system in combating human trafficking are placed in ‘Tier-1’ and those with serious human trafficking problems are placed in ‘Tier-3’. The countries which do not perform well are placed in ‘Tier-2 Watch List’. The countries which remain on ‘Tier-2 Watch List’ for two consecutive years automatically slide down to the ‘Tier-3’. Placement in ‘Tier-3’ can result in suspension of all aid except on humanitarian grounds by the US government and IFIs.

Pakistan is struggling in the ‘Tier-2 Watch List’.

The letter deplored that internal trafficking has mainly contributed to the country’s downgrading in the TIP report. The report places human trafficking in two distinct jurisdictional divisions i.e. ‘External Trafficking’ and ‘Internal Trafficking’. The term “Trafficking in Persons” by the US and other international jurisdictions includes components like exploitation, prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labour/services, child labour, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude and removal of organs.

In Pakistan, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) deals with external trafficking while the internal trafficking is dealt by provincial police forces and other provincial departments. The letter read, “The TIP report reveals internal trafficking has over shadowed external trafficking. It also clearly indicates that internal trafficking has mainly contributed to our downgrading in the TIP report”.

The TIP report 2015, according to the letter, has recommended the Pakistani authorities to vigorously investigate and prosecute suspected human trafficking offenders respecting due process, as well as government officials suspected of complicity in trafficking. The report also asked Pakistan to ensure that trafficking victims are not penalised; to clearly distinguish between human trafficking and human smuggling in trainings, policies, and programmes; and strengthen capacity of provincial governments to address human trafficking.

The letter said that most of the issues of internal trafficking need to be dealt with by the provincial departments. “Unfortunately, the issue of internal trafficking is not given due importance and the action taken is far below of what is desired. The successful prosecution of law and conviction rate is poor in TIP cases. The little action that is taken is not communicated to appropriate forums nor publicised.”

The letter suggested that all stakeholders who contribute towards preparation of the TIP Report need to evolve a comprehensive action plan to achieve minimum possible targets as highlighted in the TIP Report.

According to the 2014 TIP report, Pakistan is a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. A large percentage of trafficking that occurs within the country, particularly of children, is due in part to Pakistan’s deteriorating security situation and weak economy, it added.

According to the available data, the Islamabad police registered 268 cases of internal trafficking in 2013 while 183 such cases were registered in 2014 in different police stations in Islamabad Capital Territory limits. When contacted, Secretary Economic Affairs Division, Saleem Sethi he said that the EAD has so far not been communicated formally to do anything in this regard. “We will act accordingly after we get instructions from concerned quarters,” he added.

Spokesman EAD, Pervaiz Ahmad Junejo told The Nation that the suspension of US and IFIs aid to Pakistan will make no effect on the overall economic situation in the country. To a question about the quantum of US and IFIs annual aid to Pakistan, he said that it varies every year. The Economic Affairs Division is responsible for assessment of requirements, programming and negotiations of external economic assistance related to the Pakistani government and its constituent units from foreign governments and multilateral agencies.