Minors for sale

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THE curse of human trade has a doubly odious form child trafficking. Pakistan, too, is haunted by this ugly reality: its minors, boys and girls, have often been treated as commodities in this repellant business. It is in this context that the recent arrest of rights activist Sarim Burney on a `human trafficking complaint` by US authorities, and his two-day physical remand to FIA custody for an investigation into `child trafficking by way of illegal adoption` has come as particularly disquieting news. A letter, received by the FIA in March from US authorities, had alleged that Mr Burney`s organisation was `misleading the courts and changing children`s names`. Other reports suggest that records pertaining to children’s parentage may also have been fabricated. Apparently, the violations pertained to adoption documents for more than a dozen children taken in by families in the US.

It is too early to say what may have motivated Mr Burney to allegedly falsify records, or even if the allegation is true.

However, under-age victims are frequently trafficked for illegal adoptions, as well as for beggary, organ transplant, bonded labour and to serve as drug mules. One hopes that this was not the case with these children. The allegations levelled by US authorities give cause for immense concern, and the FIA must ensure that the case is investigated thoroughly and prosecuted transparently. In general, our courts need to take a stronger stance on crimes against minors, while investigators must ensure higher conviction rates through more thorough collection of evidence and diligent prosecution of those involved. Without the efforts of law enforcement and the judiciary, the application of anti-trafficking laws and justice for the exploited will be hard to achieve. Our government must also engage extensively with other countries to help ensure that global humanitarian rules are followed. In times of spiralling poverty, the state must guard the vulnerable. Our children should not be mistreated in any way.

Acknowledgement: (Editorial) Published in Dawn News on 9th June 2024.
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