Critical features missing from proposed anti-human trafficking law: Hardeep Puri

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PUBLISHED IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

India’s first anti-human trafficking law should have provision to penalise commercial carriers and transport companies if they fail to ensure that people travelling to the country are carrying requisite travel documents, Union urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri has recommended.

The provision exists in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crimes, which puts the onus on commercial carriers in ensuring that passengers are in possession of requisite travel documents. India is a signatory to the UN convention.

In a letter to law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad last week, Puri has highlighted how “certain critical features” of the UN Protocol are missing from the proposed domestic law. Puri is part of the group of ministers (GoM) set up to review the anti human-trafficking bill

“The UN Protocol provides trafficking against women, along with minors be given due recognition. The current proposal, while adequately addressing tracking of minors, does not provide the same salience to crimes against women,” says Puri’s letter, a copy of which has been reviewed by HT.

Besides, Article 6, Section (1) of the UN Protocol states that “each state party shall protect the privacy and identity of victims of trafficking persons”.

“The proposed bill is silent on the need to secure the identity of victims,” Puri’s letter notes.

The draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017, piloted by the Union women and child development (WCD) ministry, proposes punishment of up to 14 years for traffickers, measures to rehabilitate victims, and the mandatory registration of placement agencies that recruit and place domestic help.

In a first, it also treats a trafficked person pushed into prostitution as a victim, instead of the prevalent practice of treating them as criminals like the traffickers and facing jail term of up to seven years.

The bill was referred to a four-member GoM, headed by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj last month when it came up for approval before the cabinet.

“It was referred to the GoM after Swaraj and Puri flagged incongruities in the bill,” said a senior government official familiar with the development.

WCD minister Maneka Gandhi and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad are the other two members of the GoM.

“Once the GoM gives its report, we will go to the cabinet for approval,” said a senior WCD ministry official who did not want to be quoted.

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‘Well-oiled network gets 50,000 Bangladeshi girls trafficked into India every year’-Border Security Force Study

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Published in The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Around 50,000 Bangladeshi girls are trafficked to or through India every year and around 5 lakh Bangladeshi women and children aged 12 to 30 years have been illegally sent to India in the last decade.

Citing data from various reports and estimation of NGOs, a BSF study reveals, human trafficking from Bangladesh to India has grown to such a magnitude that it now works directly on the principle of demand and supply with a well lubricated machinery of touts working on both sides of the border with the first link in the chain being Dhaka.

Farmers harvest paddy near Indo-Bangladesh border in Kamalpur area of Tripura's Dhalai district on May 15, 2014.  Tension prevails in the area after Indian farmers were allegedly prevented from entering their paddy fields by Bangladeshi nationals and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) on 14th May, 2014. (Photo: IANS)The human trafficking syndicate operating in various cities/states of India raise their demand to touts in Bangladesh directly or through agents in Kolkata, following which the syndicate based on the other side of border supply the victims. The Indian syndicate demands young girls and women mostly for brothels, low grade hotels for prostitution, dance bars, massage parlours, employment as domestic workers, and forced marriages besides feeding the market for unskilled or semi-skilled labour.

In order to meet targets, BSF says, there is a network of touts in whole of the Bangladesh starting from the capital city Dhaka and further linking to border districts till the last village. There are agents and sub-agents who have contacts with people in border villages. 84% of these touts are male while 16% are female.

Explaining the modus operandi in the study titled “Human Trafficking: Modus Operandi of touts on Indo-Bangladesh border”, BSF says the Bangladeshi syndicate lures people by promising them a better life in India with good jobs, household work, offering work in movies, false promises of marriage other than abducting young girls.

uwzpmoxkza-1491589544The Bangladeshi touts typically look for girls from poor and vulnerable families in Bangladesh. “…….there is so much of poverty in Bangladesh that the touts easily gets their target at bus stands and railway stations across the country,” says BSF. The victims, it says, are mostly Bangladeshi internal migrants.

According to the BSF study, most of the victims are trafficked from Jessore and Satkhira to Gojadanga and Hakimpur in Bangladesh. The border here is completely unfenced and population resides till zero line, making it easier for touts to bring people into India. The Benopole border crossing, known as the south-west transit point, is also most commonly used by the touts as it is the easiest land route to India.

Other districts of Bangladesh – Kurigram, Lalmonnirhat, Nilphamari, Panchagarh, Thakurgaon, Dinajppur, Naogaon, Chapai Nawabganj and Rajshahi are also used for human trafficking, says BSF. “Over a period of time, Bangladeshi touts have built up powerful bases in the border districts and these are now favourite transit points of human trafficking,” it says.

Post trafficking, the victims are kept inside border villages for some time before they are further sent to Indian cities. For this also, there is a well-oiled network of touts. In India, the most favoured destinations are Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru while other cities preferred by the traffickers include Raipur and Surat.

1200px-Indo_Bangladesh_Border_Gate,_Hilli,_Dakshin_DenajpurThe researchers have recommended focus on border patches which are vulnerable to trafficking, cooperation from Bangladeshi authorities and self-employment projects in India so that border population on India’s side does not indulge in trafficking.

Victims, arrested touts and locals interviewed by BSF for the study claimed that for every person to cross over to India, tout has to pay 200-400 takas (Bangladeshi currency) to the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) but BSF’s involvement was not found at organisation level. “Often there were instances of individual involvement (of BSF personnel),” says the study.

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Human Trafficking: 4 GH Girls Rescued From Bihar

The Shillong Times

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Representational Image 

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) on Sunday rescued four teenage girls of Garo Hills while being trafficked to Muzaffarpur in Bihar. 
North Garo Hills Police has dispatched a women’s team to bring back the four girls to Meghalaya.
The police said illegal trafficking of men and women is a major problem as it continues unabated in Meghalaya.
According to the police, the four girls went missing soon after the New Year celebrations. An unidentified man from North Garo Hills lured the girls to come along with him to Muzaffarpur on the promise of giving them good jobs there with hefty salaries.
One of the parents filed an FIR with Mendipathar police station after receiving a call from his daughter that she was being taken to Muzaffarpur on the promise of a high salaried job.
After the FIR was filed, the police contacted a Church leader of North Garo Hills for help who, in turn, contacted Impulse NGO.
Subsequently, the Commissioner of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and IGP of Delhi Police for NE were contacted to launch a rescue mission.
The Impulse NGO also contacted NGOs and social welfare organisations in West Bengal and Bihar resulting in the rescue of the four girls.

SC glare on Bengal child trafficking

The Telegraph

Supreme Court 

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a response from all states and Union territories on measures to combat child trafficking, an issue that has pitted Bengal against the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

Observing that the future of the country depends on the character and destiny of children, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra expanded the scope of a special leave petition filed by the national child rights commission and stayed all related proceedings pending before Calcutta High Court.

This includes the high court order passed on August 29, 2017, restraining the national commission from interfering with the issue of child trafficking in Bengal as the state commission was already seized of the issue. “Trafficking of children… has a vital national concern and recognises no boundary. A right of a child in a society is sacred, for the future of the country depends upon the character and the destiny of the child, and the State has a great role in that regard,” the bench, also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, said in an order directing all states and Union territories to submit their responses.

“There shall be a stay on the impugned order and further proceedings before the high court of Calcutta…. Let the matter be listed on 22nd January, 2018. It shall be taken up at 2pm,” the Supreme Court ordered.

The apex court passed the direction after additional solicitor-general Tushar Mehta and NCPCR counsel Anindita Pujari assailed the Calcutta High Court order on the ground that it was contrary to the law as the national child rights panel was empowered to deal with trafficking in Bengal even if the state child protection commission was seized of the matter.

Mehta told the top court that there was nothing on record to show that the state commission had taken prior cognisance and that the trafficking of children as young as two or three years “is very grave and has acquired a pan-India nature. It has become a cross-border issue, which a state commission cannot address.”

Mehta cited Rule 17 of the NCPCR, which he said gave absolute power to the national commission to deal with any issue pertaining to violation of child rights, even if the matter was pending before a state commission.

He argued that Calcutta High Court had taken an erroneous view that Section 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, bars the jurisdiction of the national commission if any issue relating to child abuse or trafficking is being considered by a state panel.

The apex court said: “Be that as it may, the issue relates to trafficking of children. The submission of the learned additional solicitor-general is that in the state of West Bengal, there has been trafficking of orphans and the children are being sold. As the issue pertains to trafficking of children, which has a vital national concern and recognizes no boundary, we think it appropriate to entertain the special leave petition.”

It said it would also examine certain aspects of the protection of human rights as envisaged under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, as it would “include the dignity of the individual and in that compartment dignity of a child deserves to be covered”.

 

3 Indian,7 Nepalese girls held captive in Kenya rescued: Sushma Swaraj

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NEW DELHI: The government has rescued from Kenya three Indian and seven Nepalese girls, who were victims of an organised crime syndicate that indulged in human trafficking, External Affairs Minister Sushma

Swaraj said on Thursday. The girls have been flown back, the minister said.

In a series of tweets, Swaraj said, “We have rescued three Indian girls from Kenya. The girls were victims

of an organised crime syndicate that indulged in trafficking of girls. Seven Nepalese girls were also rescued. Their Passports and phones were taken and they were held captive in Mombasa.”

Pimp who ran flesh trade through WhatsApp held

Published in the Asian Age

pexels-photo-568027.jpegMumbai: The anti-human trafficking wing of Thane (rural) police Tuesday evening busted a prostitution racket being operated from a posh housing society in Mira Road.
While the pimp, a 36-year-old woman, has been arrested and booked under relevant sections of the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA), three young women have been saved from the clutches of the flesh racketeers.

The pimp used to contact potential clients through WhatsApp, where it was convenient for her to send photographs of the girls she had ensnared. The police said that they received a tip-off about women being made available for prostitution from a posh apartment in Ramdev Park, Mira Road.

API Sanjay Bangar said, “Our team, under the instructions of SP Dr Mahesh Patil, established contact and successfully struck a deal with the pimp through a decoy customer.” Following confirmation, police officers led by deputy SP Atul Kulkarni raided the apartment.

Kids among trafficked bonded labourers rescued from Jammu and Kashmir

Greater Kashmir

NCCEBL, a part of Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC), Human Rights Network (HRLN) New Delhi, in coordination with the district authorities, raided illegal brick kilns operating in Reasi and Samba districts and rescued illegally trafficked bonded labourers, said a statement.

Watch: Kids among trafficked bonded labourers rescued from Jammu and Kashmir

Kids among trafficked bonded labourers rescued from Jammu and Kashmir

A team of National Campaign Committee for Eradication of Bonded Labour (NCCEBL) has rescued bonded labourers, including kids, from Reasi and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

NCCEBL, a part of Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC), Human Rights Network (HRLN) New Delhi, in coordination with the district authorities, raided illegal brick kilns operating in Reasi and Samba districts and rescued illegally trafficked bonded labourers, said a statement.

“These bonded labourers were trafficked from Chhattisgarh by an agent who promised them work and later made them do forced work for contractors operating brick kilns in Anantnag District of Jammu & Kashmir,” it said.

The statement said that these labourers were made to work for 18 hours altogether without proper meals and any wages.

“Even small children were not spared and were made to do work at brick kiln at Bhagwati Brick Kiln in Reasi  and some of them contracted diseases due to lack of any basic amenity. Earlier many of them suffered chest related ailments as they couldn’t bear shivering cold in Kashmir,” it said.

The labourers, it said, were beaten to pulp by the goons of the agent and transported from Anantnag to Reasi and Samba districts after they protested.

“Many of the women bonded labourers were in family ways giving birth braving death as medical avenues were next to impossible and they had not a single penny to spend on themselves,” said the statement.

It added that their rehabilitation was a challenge due to lack of proper mechanisms in India to provide rehabilitation to rescued bonded laboureres.

“Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 does assure same but implementation remains a tough challenge,” it said.

Convener NCCEBL, Nirmal Gorana said: “Thousands of bonded labourers are still doing forced labour in Jammu & Kashmir and there is no mechanism in place for their repatriation and rehabilitation.”

“There is a need to bust this illegal trafficking racket of bonded labourers which includes women and to break this vicious cycle of trafficking and forced labour where agents on allurement of promising work carry these labourers from State to State,” he added.

Pertinently, the United Nations, in a recent report on slavery, highlighted the stark reality of 40 million slaves in India. 25 million among these include forced labour.