[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

PAKISTAN (Tier 2) Extracted in part  from the U.S. State Dept 2023 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.  The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, if any, on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Pakistan remained on Tier 2.  These efforts included increasing investigations and prosecutions, and convicting traffickers.  The government identified and referred more victims for protection services, and provincial labor departments referred more bonded labor cases to law enforcement.  The government acceded to the UN TIP Protocol.  However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  Law enforcement efforts against labor trafficking remained inadequate compared to the scale of the problem and for a fourth year, the government did not take adequate action against credible reports of official complicity in trafficking; victim protection services, especially shelter, remained inadequate; and inspection efforts continued to be insufficient to effectively enforce labor laws.  There were reports of victims being re-victimized, and corruption continued to hinder anti-trafficking efforts.  In Sindh, local officials continued to perpetrate bonded labor with impunity in brick kilns and on farms.

Prioritized Recommendations

Vigorously increase the number of bonded labor victims identified and referred to services, including by ensuring labor inspectors have sufficient resources to conduct inspections and report potential trafficking cases to law enforcement.

Implement measures to address corruption in law enforcement and take steps to shield trafficking investigators and prosecutors from external influence.

At both the federal and provincial levels, increase prosecutions and convictions of all forms of trafficking, including bonded labor, and seek adequate penalties for convicted traffickers, including complicit officials, which should involve significant prison terms.

Using the SOPs for victim identification, systematically and proactively identify trafficking victims and refer them to services through training of provincial police, labor inspectors, and social services on SOPs, and ensure victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.

Establish an NRM that receives adequate input from NGOs, define processes and roles of all relevant government agencies and front-line actors (including federal and provincial agencies), and train those actors to ensure uniform implementation across the country.

Continue to train officials, including law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors, on the implementation of the 2018 Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act (PTPA) and increase registration of trafficking related cases under the PTPA.

Expand services for bonded laborers, including vocational training and job placement support, debt and injury restitution, shelter, identity documents, and legal assistance, and ensure they are informed of the law that discharges all bonded laborers from any obligations to render such labor through awareness campaigns.

Increase registration of brick kiln and farm workers to ensure their access to services and government relief, especially in response to sudden-onset disasters due to climate change.

Increase the quality and availability of trafficking-specific services, including for males, and increase dedicated funding for services and staff training.

Vigorously raise public awareness of forced labor, particularly in domestic servitude, brick kilns, and agriculture.

Improve efforts to collect and accurately report anti-trafficking data, including by province and type of trafficking, including bonded labor.

Take steps to eliminate all recruitment fees charged to workers, lift restrictions on female migrants, and increase protections of migrant workers in destination countries.

Establish a national hotline, in collaboration with civil society, to report trafficking crimes and provide victim assistance and referral.