Report of the High Commission to Combat Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling- 2018
Insofar as clear to you that the government of Afghanistan, on the basis of the Law on Combating Abduction and Human Trafficking, established the High Commission for Combating Abduction and Human Trafficking in 2011consisting of 15 governmental agencies and one non-governmental agency, which the Ministry of Justice holds the chairmanship and its secretariat.
After the amendment of the Law on Abduction and Human Trafficking in 2016, the smuggling of migrants has been criminalized and the commission administered its activities under the title of “High Commission for Combating Human Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants”. The objective of establishing this commission is to make coordination amongst the governmental agencies on combating human trafficking and migrants smuggling all over the country. This commission presents its annual report, encompassing the measures of government against the phenomenon of human trafficking and migrants smuggling.
It is worth mentioning that the activities of this commission have been divided into three categories: 1) Security and Justice Sector; 2) Support Sector; and 3) Awareness Providing Sector. The Security and Justice Sector is responsible for detection, identification, arrest, investigation, prosecution and trial. The Support Sector is responsible for supporting the victims of human trafficking and migrants smuggling, and the Awareness Providing Sector is responsible for providing awareness on harms and disadvantages of the human trafficking and migrants smuggling.
The government of Afghanistan, on the basis of the provisions of the Law on Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling, has continually strived to perform activities in six areas: (structure, detecting crimes and arresting the suspects of human trafficking, addressing the cases and trial of persons accused of human trafficking, public awareness, supporting the victims of human trafficking and efforts for establishing coordination at the region and world level).
1. Security and Justice Sector
According to the annual report of 2018 of the commission, the National Security Directorate, has identified 55 networks of human trafficking, out of which 34 networks have come under operative operations. As a result, 41 human traffickers have been arrested in the center and provinces and handed over to the justice institutions. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has also detected and investigated 122 cases of human trafficking, as a result of which, 63 persons were arrested on the suspicion of human trafficking and for some other cases and handed over to the justice institutions.
In total, the detective and security organs of the country have arrested 163 human trafficking suspects last year, from which 104 individuals have been handed over to the justice institutions.
During this period, 154 cases relating to human trafficking and refugee smuggling have been sent to the Office of Attorney General for prosecution, out of which 145 of them have been investigated and prosecuted and 9 other cases are under consideration. As a result, 75 persons have been sentenced under the Penal Code of Afghanistan, to the following punishments:
- 55 persons, charged for migrants smuggling, and 6 persons guilty of human trafficking, have been sentenced to mid-term imprisonment;
- 4 persons, charged for human trafficking, have been sentenced to long term imprisonment;
- 2 persons charged for migrants smuggling, have been sentenced to short term imprisonment; and
- 8 other persons proved to be innocent. Other cases are under consideration.
We are in the picture that the human traffickers, smuggle people for the purpose of different exploitations. The government of Afghanistan will apply severe punishment against those wrongdoers. The Penal Code of the country, in proportion with the crime, has envisaged various punishments for the exploiters, from short term imprisonment to capital punishment.
In the Panel Code of Afghanistan, the victim of human trafficking has been exempted and protected, and the acts of the victims, committed under the compulsion of the trafficker shall not be prosecuted. We are sure that in the justice institutions of the country, there is no mercy for such criminals. The justice system of Afghanistan, according to the Panel Code of the country, penalizes the offenders of human trafficking, with severe punishment.
2. Support Sector
As you are well aware that the human trafficking and irregular migrations, includes serious physical and mental harms. Therefore, the government of Afghanistan endeavors to provide the necessary protection to the victims of human trafficking.
During this period, the partner organizations in coordination with the agencies that are members of this commission have so far, supported 1050 victims of human trafficking and migrants smuggling by providing with health, psychology, education and social support in their respective support centers, and some of them have been re-integrated into their families. Also, the commission members have provided health care, psychological, social, as well as awareness services to some 8600 repatriated migrants.
The member-departments of this commission, in cooperation with international organizations, provided support to 54242 victims, deported from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran and some European Countries, and facilitated their re-integration into their respective families.
Although, the High Commission of Combating Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling, due to the absence of specific funds, lacks necessary protection centers; but the member agencies of this commission and the partner organizations continuously strive to keep the support/protection centers for the victims of human trafficking and migrants smuggling active, and increase them.
Along with this, the Independent Bar Association of Afghanistan, through assigning pro bono defense lawyers, has addressed 12 cases of human trafficking.
Apart from this, the measures accomplished in support of the victims of human trafficking and migrants smuggling, the Ministry of Refugees and Returnees’ Affairs, in order to reduce irregular migrations and preventing the issuance of illegal visas, has held effective coordination meetings with the Passport Department of Afghanistan, the embassies of Norway, Denmark and Russia.
The most shocking of all, is disastrous and horrible damages legacy that arises from human trafficking and migrants smuggling. In the last year, according to the report of the Refugee Affairs Attaché of the Afghan Embassy in Tehran, around 872 Afghan migrants have lost their lives in the traffic accidents, illnesses, burns, attacks by unknown individuals and other incidents, in Iran. Though, the Afghan government has expressed sorrow over such unforeseeable incidents, it has transmitted the corpse of such victims and submitted them to their families.
3. Awareness Providing Sector
The Awareness Providing Sector is comprised of the Ministry of Pilgrimage and Endowment, Ministry of Refugees and Returnees’ Affairs, Ministry of Information and Culture, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of Public Health, the Independent Commission of Human Rights and the High Commission, provides awareness through mosques, sermons, radio and television messages, banners, billboards, and other media on human trafficking and its consequences. The member-departments of the High Commission, through organizing 525 awareness programs in 24 provinces of the country at national and local levels have delivered awareness for 1569735 citizens of the country about harms of the human trafficking and irregular migrations and their consequences. Also, the commission in cooperation with the non-governmental organizations, in order to effectively combat the ominous phenomenon of the human trafficking and migrants smuggling, has conducted 106 capacity building programs for 1850 personnel of the government agencies, in Kabul and provinces.
Apart from these activities, the High Commission, in cooperation with international community, in order to register all information and performance related to human trafficking and migrants smuggling, succeeded for the first time to establish a general database of human trafficking and migrants smuggling in the country. Currently, this database is active in the secretariat of the High Commission and in the bordering provinces of the country. It should be mentioned that this database, by establishing coordination among the member-departments of the commission, enables the government to obtain comprehensive information about the human trafficking and migrants smuggling status in the country.
Beside these activities, launching the awareness programs, preparing training guides on human trafficking, preparing national mechanism to repatriate the victims of human trafficking, thorough research on the status of human trafficking and refugee smuggling, and reviewing the National Action Plan on human trafficking and migrants smuggling, are among the important measures that the commission has accomplished, in the last year. Also, the commission, in order to establish coordination on combating this phenomenon, has held 11 meetings of the technical committee of the Commission on Combating the Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling, and 24 meetings of the provincial commissions, last year.
Meanwhile, in the “Ministerial Conference of the Bali Process on Human Trafficking” , last year, in order to combat human trafficking and migrants smuggling, Afghanistan emphasized to establish and expand regional cooperation, in particular, the cooperation among the neighboring countries.
We believe that conflict, poverty, unemployment, low level awareness of people about the disadvantages of human trafficking and irregular migration, lack of control and continuous surveillance over the tourist agencies, and lack of fund and sufficient resource for the High Commission, are the reasons that the issues of human trafficking, migrants smuggling and irregular migrations remain as serious challenges for the government of Afghanistan.
The High Commission of Combat against Human Trafficking and Migrants Smuggling, realizing the importance and necessity of combating this phenomenon, requests the regional countries and the international community to cooperate with the government of Afghanistan in this regard.
The Ministry of Justice and the member-departments of the High Commission, once again declare their renewed commitment to the people of Afghanistan and the international community to combat against the human trafficking and migrants smuggling.