Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

Trafficking in Persons: Faulty Regulations, Pervasive Corruption and Flawed Prevention in Pakistan

Academic journal article Pakistan Journal of Criminology

Trafficking in Persons: Faulty Regulations, Pervasive Corruption and Flawed Prevention in Pakistan

Article excerpt


Trafficking in persons is one of the serious issues in Pakistan. According to Bales et al. (2008), socio-economic inequalities and inadequate legislation as well as unwillingness of law enforcement agencies of existing laws are the major contributing factors to this menace. According to the US State Department Report (2013), the Government of Pakistan has been ignoring trafficking in persons. According to the latest Report of the US Department of State (2016) regarding the state of human rights in Pakistan, "Widespread human trafficking, including, forced and bonded labor, continued." According to a Report by Child Workers in Asia (CWA, 2007), people in bondage suffer a range of abuses and violations of their rights and dignity. Problems of sex trafficking, forced labor, bonded labor and begging are happening at an alarming rate in Pakistan. This paper focuses on what is the current situation of trafficking in persons in Pakistan? What legal regime exists to combat human trafficking? How can the Government of Pakistan (GOP) protect the victims of human trafficking? What can the GOP do to prevent human trafficking? These questions are very complex rather than simple.

Current Situation of Trafficking in Persons in Pakistan and Constitutional Framework

Trafficking in Persons Protocol, known formally as the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, signed in Palermo, Italy in December 2000 contains a definition of trafficking in persons that has been agreed by the international community. According Article 3 of this Protocol,

"trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation."

Trafficking in persons and bonded labor in Pakistan lead to forced labor. As a matter of fact the Constitution of Pakistan of 1973 mentions in Article 11 (1) that "Slavery is non-existent and forbidden and no law shall permit or facilitate its introduction into Pakistan in any form" (Constitution, 2015]. Article 11(2) of the Constitution prohibits "all forms of forced labor and trafficking in human beings." Under Article 11(3] "No child below the age of fourteen years shall be engaged in any factory or mine or any other hazardous employment". In addition, under Article 37(e) of the Constitution the State shall "make provision for securing just and humane conditions of work, ensuring that children and women are not employed in vocations unsuited to their age or sex, and for maternity benefits for women and employment". Furthermore under Article 4(2)(C) of the Constitution, which is the most fundamental article, "no person shall be compelled to do that which the law does not require him to do". Furthermore, Article 3 of the Constitution states that "the State shall ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation and the gradual fulfillment of the fundamental principle, from each according to his ability to each according to his work". These articles are very clear and do not need explanation. Article 11 is within the chapter on Fundamental Rights but how can the informal sector of Pakistan labor market be subjected to it is another issue. Article 37 is in Chapter III and is within the Principles of Policy and thereby not justiciable and practically ineffective. Finally, Article 4 is in the introductory part of the Constitution and as such can never be suspended even in case of an emergency.

In Mian Abdur Razzaq v. Federal Governmen t (PLD 2001 FSC: 1) the Federal Shariat Court in Pakistan has described human trafficking as a hadd. The then Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court opined that any proceeding regarding this offence shall be entertained only by the Federal Shariat Court. …

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