Top court seeks measures to eliminate human trafficking

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the interior and foreign affairs secretaries as well as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general to hold a mutual meeting within two days and prepare recommendations to overcome the menace of human smuggling in the country.

A three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, directed this while hearing a suo motu case pertaining to human trafficking.

The court directed the trio to furnish their response detailing measures to tackle and curb the menace of human smuggling until February 12. The chief justice appreciated the interior and foreign secretaries for their appearance on a short notice.

During the hearing, the chief justice noted that a majority of the human trafficking gangs were operating from Mandi Bahauddin, Gujrat, Lala Musa and Sarai Alamgir areas of Punjab, adding that this menace must come to an end.

Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua told the court that a mafia was involved in the human trafficking in the country. She said human smuggling was mostly made from the areas of Punjab including Gujrat, Sialkot, Jhelum, Kharian and Mandi Bahauddin. She said the incident took place in Libya was clearly a matter of human trafficking and the mafia, which operates in Gujrat and Sialkot, was involved in it.

During the hearing, the chief justice noted that some people were claiming that the apex court was interfering in matters of governance through its suo motu notices, adding that when the government remains failed to perform its responsibilities, the court has to interfere to protect the human rights.

He said the crime of human smuggling was not being tackled adequately, adding that there should be well coordination between the government institutions.

FIA’s Director General Bashir Ahmad Memon told the court that human trafficking was a pressing issue in Gujrat and Gujranwala.

The chief justice stated that the court would direct the Punjab government to set up an FIA office in Gujranwala and Gujrat to tackle the situation on ground.

Meanwhile, another official of the FIA told the court that three alleged human smugglers were arrested during raids in Sheikhupura and Mandi Bahauddin on Tuesday.

He said a few days ago, the FIA arrested a prime suspect of a human trafficking network that facilitated illegal transportation of Pakistani nationals, who drowned in a shipwreck off Libya on January 31. He said as many as 32 Pakistani nationals were aboard the ship that wrecked off Libyan coast on January 31.

He said that a prime suspect, Mehboob Shah, was caught along with an accomplice, Mudassir, during a raid in Gujrat.

The Supreme Court had taken a suo motu notice of human smuggling after the tragic discovery in Turbat, Balochistan of bullet-ridden bodies of around a dozen men, mostly from Punjab, who were attempting to illegally crossover into Europe via Iran.

Published in Daily Times, February 7th 2018.