[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

PAKISTAN (Tier 2 Watch List) Extracted from the U.S. State Dept 2020 TIP Report

The Government of Pakistan does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included convicting traffickers for the first time under the government’s comprehensive human trafficking law, convicting more traffickers for bonded labor than the previous year, and increasing registration of brick kilns nationwide to improve oversight of workers whom labor traffickers target. The government also identified more trafficking victims than the previous reporting period, and initiated eight investigations against suspected traffickers for Pakistani trafficking victims identified overseas. In addition, federal and provincial authorities continued to collaborate with international partners and foreign governments on anti-trafficking efforts. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. The government significantly decreased investigations and prosecutions of sex traffickers, and Punjab province, where over half of the population resides, continued to disproportionately report nearly all anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, including 98 percent of convictions. As in previous years, only two of Pakistan’s six provinces convicted any traffickers. Law enforcement efforts against labor trafficking remained inadequate compared to the scale of the problem. Punjab continued to be the only province to report efforts against bonded labor traffickers. It reported more overall convictions than the previous reporting period, although overall bonded labor convictions decreased from other prior years. In Sindh, local officials continued to perpetrate bonded labor in brick kilns and on farms with impunity. Unlike the previous reporting period, the government did not take action against credible reports of official complicity in trafficking, and organizations reported official complicity and corruption led to several high-profile trafficking cases being dropped during the year. The government continued to lack overall adequate resources for victim care, and only referred four percent of all victims identified to care. Therefore Pakistan was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List.

Prioritized Recommendations

At both the federal and provincial levels, increase prosecutions and convictions of both sex trafficking and forced labor, including cases allegedly involving complicit officials, and stringently punish perpetrators. Instruct labor departments to refer all suspected bonded labor cases to police for criminal investigation. Tr a i n officials—including provincial police, labor inspectors, and social services—on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral to rehabilitation services. Ensure victims are not penalized for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. Make efforts to finalize, disseminate, and train officials on the implementing rules for the 2018 Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act (PTPA). Significantly increase referrals of trafficking victims to services, and increase the quality and availability of trafficking-specific services, including for males. Designate specialized prosecutors and judges to hear trafficking cases. Expand services for bonded laborers, including shelter, identity documents, and legal assistance. Register and inspect brick kilns in accordance with relevant laws regulating factories, and refer suspected bonded labor to law enforcement. Take steps to eliminate all recruitment fees charged to workers. Continue to train government officials to clearly distinguish between human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Amend the 2018 PTPA to remove penalty provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking offenses. Lift restrictions on female migration while negotiating female worker protections with destination country governments. Improve efforts to collect and accurately report anti-trafficking data. Accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.