Human smuggling, trafficking on rise: FIA
ISLAMABAD – The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) wants establishment of its immigration liaison offices in Iran and Turkey to check the menace of human smuggling as according to the agency, thousands of Pakistanis are leaving for Europe illegally every year through land routes of Iran, Turkey, and Greece.
The FIA in its report recently submitted to the Supreme Court in a suo motu case of killing of 20 Pakistanis in Turbat District of Balochistan, has pointed out how human smuggling and human trafficking have become a rising phenomenon in Pakistan and what kind of challenges the agency is facing to counter the menace.
The FIA said that those 20 Pakistanis, all belonged to the eastern part of the country, had reached Balochistan, and intended to leave for Europe through the known illegal land route passing Iran, Turkey, and Greece.
The report says that the FIA has already established its Immigration Liaison Office also known as FIA Link Office, in Muscat, Oman for better liaison and coordinating with the counter stakeholders to check human smuggling and it has become a success story.
The office has brought considerably great developments in resolving the issues of Pakistani nationals constrained in Oman and the UAE due to their illegal status.
“In the past, [the] FIA used to depute at any given time several of its officers in Pakistani embassies and missions as liaison officers. However, due to lack of funding from the government, this important tradition and practice has been discontinued for quite some time,” the report said.
The Director General of the FIA in the report said that the agency had taken up the matter with the government to establish Immigration Liaison Offices (ILOs) in the Pakistani Embassies of Iran and Turkey.
Iran and Turkey have already posted their ILOs in their Embassies in Islamabad.
The report states that as per data of Frontex, official European border and coastal guard agency, 6,767 Pakistanis entered Europe, including Germany and Italy, illegally in 2017 only.
The FIA said that the most common route adopted remained land route and this was from Pakistan to Iran to Turkey and then Greece.
Iran and Turkey serve as transit countries on these routes.
The FIA pointed out that the agency was facing a number of challenges and indifference of the government to counter the menace.
“Human resources, infrastructure and capacity building issue of [the] FIA need to be resolved in accordance with the current workload and complexity of its mandate functions and responsibilities,” the report said.
The report recommended that enhanced cooperation, to decrease the rising cases of human smuggling, in Pak-Iran Border Commission in respect of immigration issues especially with regards to agents working in Iran.
The report states that the agents in Turkey, Greece, Italy and Germany were also in contact with the local agents in Quetta and those in Iran for getting innocent intending emigrants to Italy and Germany through land route of Iran, Turkey and Greece.
The FIA said that the particulars of those identified agents based in Iran, Turkey, Greece and Germany had been shared with the Embassies and quarters concerned.
The FIA report said that no proper law to control the human smuggling had been enacted in Pakistan and, Emigration Ordinance, 1979 was being used to deal with the cases of human smuggling, which did not tackle the crime as human smuggling had not been properly defined.
Insufficient punishments in the relevant laws such as Emigration Ordinance and other special laws related to the matter, favour the accused involved in this heinous crime.
The FIA said that a law proposed in 2013 in this connection was still pending with the government.
Similarly, the FIA’s proposed amendments in Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance (PACHTO), Emigration Ordinance 1979 and the Passport Act 1974, are pending for the last many years with the Ministry of Law, the report said.
The FIA said that it was facing human resource, for example, the FIA Gujranwala Circle and its Gujrat Sub-Circle, which are dealing with the menace in the area (Gujranwala Division), which is hub of illegal emigration for Europe in Pakistan have total sanctioned strength of 60 officers/officials and that is very low as compared to the requirement.
Similarly, the FIA is facing infrastructure issue and does not have its own buildings in Gujranwala and Gujrat.
The report said that due to limited resources, the FIA’s role as a border gatekeeper was limited to official notified border points — 26 in totals — such as airports, seaports and land border-crossing points.
It is out of the agency’s mandate to patrol thousands of miles of Pakistan’s international borders, outside of the notified check points, including the numerous points from where illegal migrants cross over into Iran.
According to the FIA, human trafficking is often quoted as the third most lucrative source of organised crime revenue in the world after arms and drug trade amounting to over $32 billion per year.
Similarly, the classification of approximately 27 million people across the globe as victims, points to the obvious fact that the phenomenon is not limited to any one country or region but is a truly international issue and affects most developing countries.
Pakistan is a source, transit and a destination country for human trafficking and migrant smuggling, the report said.