ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court sought reports from all the provinces regarding measures taken to curb human smuggling and data on children out of school within a month.
A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi on Wednesday heard the case related to the kidnapping and trafficking of children.
During the proceeding, the chief justice, mentioning about the boat tragedy on Greece’s shore, said innocent and poor people were tricked into going abroad on the pretext of better jobs.
“Citizens are duped by human traffickers and [the citizens] pay millions of rupees,” the top judge said, pointing out that even children and women were becoming victims of human smuggling.
He inquired; “Does the government have statistics on the number of children being smuggled”. The director general of the Human Rights Ministry said, “Unfortunately, accurate data is not available.”
The boat tragedy which resulted in the deaths of nearly 300 Pakistanis, was a matter of human rights. At least 600 migrants, out of possibly 750, on the fishing boat that set off from Libya towards European shores, perished when their vessel capsized in the Mediterranean Sea last month.
The passengers largely comprised Pakistanis, Afghans, Egyptians, Palestinians, and Syrians migrating in the overloaded boat. It was a recurring tragedy — with no end in sight as economic, political, and climate crises compelled increasingly large numbers of people to flee their homes.
The tragedy of such immense proportions was believed to have taken place in the presence of maritime authorities. It was also believed that Pakistani nationals were forced to stay below the deck by the crew, which maltreated them during the journey.
The chief justice noted that there was “ambiguity” in the laws against human smuggling in 2018, adding that the primary concern was the unavailability of a “specialist force” for the implementation of the laws.
“The responsibility of stopping human smuggling was also under the police,” he said.
“The Supreme Court had also asked the provincial governments to play their role against human trafficking.”
Justice Bandial also recalled the Tayyaba torture case, saying Tayyaba was now a 9th Grade student.
“Tayyaba was abandoned by her parents and she is now living in an SOS village.” “The aim is not just to protect children but also strengthen them,” he added.
The case of Tayyaba, a minor domestic worker employed in former additional district and sessions judge Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife Maheen Zafar’s household, first came to light after photos of the tortured child began circulating on social media in 2016.
She was rescued from their residence with visible injuries on December 28, 2016, and a first information report was filed against her employers the following day.
Although Raja Khurram had reached a compromise with Tayyaba’s parents on January 2, 2017, the SC took suo motu notice of the matter two days later with the strict warning that “no agreements can be reached in matters concerning fundamental human rights.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023