| The News Karachi
The government of India has offered to conduct relevant training programmes aimed at capacity building for all the stakeholders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) member states.
This was decided during the first meeting of the Regional Task Force in New Delhi, India, on July 26 to implement SAARC conventions relating to the trafficking of women and children. This was stated by Advocate Zia Awan who represented Pakistan at the meeting.
Elucidating, he said that Saarc member states would exchange information on best practices by their respective governments, NGOs and members of civil society to combat trafficking of women and children. This information would be exchanged through the Saarc Secretariat website, which would be uploaded by October 2007 and thereinafter annually.
The delegations agreed to consider developing uniform toll-free numbers, wherever applicable, to assist victims in the region. The members also decided to develop a Standard of Operating Procedure (SOP) to implement various provisions of the Saarc Convention, including reporting under Article VIII (5) and repatriation of victims of trafficking.
A draft SOP would be circulated by the Indian government to all member states through the Saarc Secretariat by the end of September. Earlier, Saarc members had signed two landmark conventions relating to trafficking in January 2002 that were ratified in November 2005.
It was pointed out during the meeting that the failure of a legal system at the national and international level and non-availability of witnesses against traffickers makes prosecution difficult, which is why the trade is going strong.
It was thus decided that a joint initiative should be taken to curb the trade or at least minimise the “potential risk factor” and agony of the victims. The meeting recognised the increasing role and importance of NGOs and members of the civil society in addressing the needs and requirements of victims of trafficking, which is a thriving trade in the South Asian region.