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Ansar Burney

Pakistan , Class of 2005

Ansar Burney

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Ansar Burney began as a student activist in the 1970s, and has fought for justice and human rights ever since, including for the rights of children.

After graduating with his Master of Laws degree, he founded several organizations to combat several of the injustices he had witnessed first-hand. These included the Prisoner’s Aid Society, and the Bureau of Missing and Kidnapped Persons. At the same time, he set up the Ansar Burney Welfare Trust, which has become a network of organizations, including the two above, which have tirelessly pursued human rights in a variety of areas. They have worked on domestic violence issues, children’s rights, prisoner’s rights—they have freed over 700,000 people from mental institutions and wrongful confinement since their inception—and other issues such as human trafficking. They also provide certain types of legal aid, and disaster relief.

In 2005, Mr. Burney was honored as a "TIP Report Hero Acting to End Modern Slavery" in recognition of his efforts to combat human trafficking. Specifically, Mr. Burney has invested an incredible amount of time and energy into combatting, preventing, and spreading awareness about the enslavement, and mistreatment, of children for the purposes of camel racing. These children are enslaved as camel jockeys, and are often under-fed and mistreated in order to keep them light. They are, of course, not allowed to be educated either. The children are often quite young, even as young as two years old. The United Arab Emirates opened a shelter for rescued Camel Jockeys, because of Ansar Burney’s efforts, and Qatar similarly took steps. By the time that Mr. Burney was given the TIP Report Hero Award, 68 children had been rescued, and 43 of those had been repatriated. Mr. Burney has also worked to combat bonded labor in Pakistan, and other forms of human trafficking.

The use of camel jockeys under the age of 15 was banned in the early 2000s, but it was not generally enforced until people like Mr. Burney actively advocated for an end to the child trafficking it encouraged. While the practice has decreased somewhat since 2005 and 2006, the issue continues and children are still trafficked from Pakistan, and other countries, many in Africa, to Gulf States in order to participate in camel racing. Ansar Burney still advocates on behalf of those children, and attempts to combat this at the source. There are also a significant number of children who are still missing, and Mr. Burney actively pursues finding out why, and where these children are. Mr. Burney is still the Chairman and founder of his own organization, and held the position of Federal Minister for Human Rights in 2007. He was also an Expert Advisor on Human Rights at the United Nations from 2007 to 2011.               

In 2014, Pakistan was placed on the Tier 2 watch list. It is a source, destination, and transit country. While trafficking is illegal, and there were many people rescued from bonded labor situations, corruption and lack of enforcement during the reporting period showed that there is progress to be made.

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