US decision on India regarding human trafficking questioned

HUMAN TRAFFICKING NEWS IS A SHAKTI VAHINI NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK INITIATIVE

WashingtonThe decision by Obama Administration to grant China a political waiver and India an upgrade in this year’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report issued by the State Department has been questioned by the a US lawmaker.

At a Congressional hearing yesterday, Congressman Chris Smith, alleged that Administration’s decisions in this regard are politically motivated as both India and China are facing problem of human trafficking, particularly sex-trafficking of women and girls.

th is the author of the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) as well as subsequent laws to make further strengthen and adapt TVPA.
In the 2008 reauthorisation of the TVPA, Congress decided that no country should be allowed to skirt sanctions on the Tier 2 Watch List for more than two years before being downgraded to Tier 3. 2011, represents the first year that the limit was put to the test.

In his remarks, Smith expressed concern about the Administration’s decision to upgrade India from the Tier 3 Watch List to a Tier 2 country. ”India was upgraded to a Tier 2 country in this report despite the fact that it has one of the largest populations of enslaved laborers in the world, and has only prosecuted and convicted a small handful of labor traffickers,” he said.

Defending the decision of the Obama Administration in this regard, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert Blake, said the State Department upgraded India to Tier 2 in the 2011 TIP Report because of the government’s greater resolve combating its trafficking problem, particularly bonded labor.

Blake said, “The Government of India increased law enforcement efforts through the establishment of over 80 Anti-Human Trafficking Units, ratified the UN TIP Protocol, achieved landmark convictions against bonded labor traffickers with punishments of significant prison sentences, and increased rescue and rehabilitation efforts of thousands of trafficking victims in many parts of India.”

However Smith argued, “The most dangerous three words in that part of the world is, ‘It’s a girl’. If it’s a girl, she may be dead, or if she gets a little bit older, she may be exploited through trafficking,” said Smith, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees human rights and co-chairs the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus.

Blake said India’s anti-TIP efforts have continued since the publication of the 2011 TIP Report. ”At the federal level we have seen efforts by the Ministry
of Labor, which called for all state labor secretaries to appoint nodal officers to tackle forced child labor and bonded labor,” he said.

“The Ministry of Home affairs has also been instrumental in broadly recognising the anti-TIP contributions of one judge of the Mumbai court (who has taken over and cleared hundreds of sex trafficking cases and issued rehabilitation orders for 1,200 rescued women and girls) and has asked Judge Swati Chauhan to share her anti-trafficking court model widely across India,” Blake said.

Blake added, “Bonded labor remains a persistent and difficult challenge in India’s anti-trafficking agenda in all jurisdictions but in August, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights announced a new cell to focus government efforts on the elimination of bonded labor.”

India is today one of America’s most important partners, and a large and complex democracy that is increasingly committed to stopping exploitation of vulnerable people. ”The Government of India and State governments have taken
significant steps in their anti-TIP efforts, responding both to international attention to TIP issues and India’s own robust civil society that seeks social justice and reform,” Blake said.

PTI

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