New anti-trafficking law soon: Life term for repeat offenders

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The bill has proposed 10-year punishment for those engaging in “aggravated forms of trafficking". For repeat offenders, it suggests imprisonment for life. The bill has also proposed the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau.
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 The government is set to introduce a law to guard against human trafficking, proposing a 10-year punishment for those engaging in “aggravated forms of trafficking” while seeking life imprisonment for repeat offenders.
A bill to identify various forms of trafficking, including for the purposes of bonded labour, sexual exploitation, pornography, removal of organs and begging, has proposed severe punishment for those engaging in the heinous crime.

The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2017, initiated by the Women & Child Development Ministry, is currently with a Group of Ministers (GoM) that will take a final view on the matter, official sources told TOI.

The bill proposes the establishment of a national anti-trafficking bureau, which shall be entrusted with the gamut of issues aimed at controlling and tackling the menace under various forms. These include coordination, monitoring and surveillance of illegal movement of persons and their prevention. The bureau will also be entrusted with increasing cooperation and coordination with authorities concerned and organisations in foreign countries for strengthening operational and long-term intelligence for investigation of trafficking cases, and driving in mutual legal assistance.

Listing out the ‘aggravated forms of trafficking’, the bill speaks about offences such as forced labour, or bonded labour, by using violence, intimidation, inducement, promise of payment of money, deception or coercion. Also, it mentions trafficking after administering any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance or alcohol, or for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage.

The aggravated form also includes trafficking for the purpose of begging or forcing those who are mentally ill or are pregnant. “Whoever commits the offence of aggravated form of trafficking of a person shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than 10 years, but which may extend to life imprisonment and shall be liable to fine that shall not be less than Rs 1 lakh,” the bill proposes.

For repeat offenders, it suggests imprisonment for life “which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life”, apart from a fine that will not be less than Rs 2 lakh.

As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), human trafficking numbers rose by almost 20% in 2016 against the previous year. NCRBsaid there were 8,132 human trafficking cases last year against 6,877 in 2015, with the highest number of cases reported in West Bengal (44% of cases), followed by Rajasthan (17%).

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Of the 15,379 victims who were caught in trafficking, 10,150 were female and 5,229 males. NCRB said the purpose of trafficking included forced labour; sexual exploitation for prostitution; other forms of sexual exploitation; domestic servitude; forced marriage; child pornography; begging; drug peddling; and removal of organs. It is believed that the numbers recorded by NCRB are a far cry to actual incidences of trafficking as many cases went unreported with many people still unaware of the crime or lacking confidence to seek police help.

For those engaging in ‘buying or selling’ a person, the bill proposes rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than seven years which can be extended to 10 years with a fine upwards of Rs 1 lakh. The bill also seeks punishment for those engaging in trafficking with the help of media, including print, internet, digital or electronic. It stipulates a punishment of not less than seven years which can go up to 10 years and a fine not less than Rs 1 lakh.

“Whoever distributes or sells or stores, in any form in any electronic or printed form showing incidence of sexual exploitation, sexual assault or rape for the purpose of extortion or for coercion of the victim or his/her family members, or for unlawful gain, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years.”

Apart from the national bureau, the bill also aims at having state-level anti-trafficking officers who shall also provide relief and rehabilitation services through district units and other civil-society organisations.
The bill also spells out measures towards relief and rehabilitation for the victims of trafficking, and seeks the formation of a committee for this purpose. The committee is proposed to be headed by the women & child development secretary and would have members from the ministries of home; external affairs; labour and employment; social justice and empowerment; panchayati raj; and heath and family welfare.

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Two BJP States contemplate death penalty for rape; face opposition

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The (BJP)-led government in has passed a Bill in its Assembly to award capital punishment to those found guilty of raping children below the age of 12. The Rajasthan government, too, was contemplating of bringing a similar Bill. Currently, the maximum punishment under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for convicts is life imprisonment. The has also suggested that the minimum punishment for be kept 14 years, and 20 years in case of gang
The Bill — Dand Vidhi (Sanshodhan) Vidheyak, 2017 — is awaiting the President’s assent.
The said awarding death punishment would barely be a deterrent. “This is a knee-jerk reaction from the state government,” said Ravi Kant, a and child rights activist. “Rapists would now kill victims to hide their identities. The should instead invest in policing and scientific techniques of investigation. Most accused get away scot-free because of shoddy investigation and victims turning hostile because of threats.”
The government brought the Bill following the of a teenager in The girl was returning from her coaching class when four men allegedly abducted and raped her. The state reported the most number of rapes in 2016. According to the Crime Records Bureau, the state reported 4,882 rapes cases, followed by with 4,816 cases and with 4,189 cases. was also among the states that reported the maximum number of cases for crimes against children. topped this list with 15.3 per cent of cases, followed by at 13.6 per cent and at 13.1 per cent.
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The Justice J S Committee, which was set up to recommend amendments to the Criminal Law for speedy trial and enhanced punishment of criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women, had also suggested against imposing the The was set up following public demand for death punishment in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya case in in 2012.

“The rejected the proposal for as it fails to treat the social foundations of It opined that should not be awarded for the offence of as there was considerable evidence that was not a deterrence to serious crimes. It recommended life imprisonment for rape,” said the summary of the report available on the website of PRS Legislative Research, a not-for-profit organisation.


After the report, the government amended the IPC through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, popularly known as the anti-Bill. It introduced several provisions, including Section 376A, which allowed for to be imposed in cases where led to the death of the victim, or left the victim in a persistent vegetative state. The maximum punishment was raised to life imprisonment in case of a non-death. Two years later, the recommended abolition of for all crimes except cases related to terrorism.


Madhya Pradesh, which is not bound either by the report or the Justice report, has proposed that should be given to those found guilty of raping children below the age of 12 years. “The is finding it difficult to recommend the to accept the Bill because of the divergent views. The matter has been referred to the Union Law ministry for its opinion,” said an official.


Among the other changes, the government has also passed a provision for a three-year jail term for stalking.


told reporters that the was currently reviewing the Bill and intends to bring its own Bill in the budget session.

 

Human trafficking worry for Sundargarh

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Rourkela : The return of two married women, aged 24 and 36, from Saudi Arabia has brought women’s trafficking in the district to the fore again.

“Our study suggests that the situation is not encouraging,” said Rajendra Behera, chief co-ordinator of Pragati, which works for the rescue of trafficked women.

“We did an exhaustive study in 11 blocks out of 17 in the district and concluded that more than 13,000 women from different age groups are missing,” he said. Between 43,000 and 44,000 women across age groups have been trafficked between 2002-14 from the district, the study showed.

The women returned home on Sunday and narrated their ordeal. The Tarkera residents claimed that a neighbour and his family members had sold them off in Saudi Arabia for a hefty sum. Their employers kept them in confinement and physically and mentally abused them, the duo alleged.

Abul Kalam Azad of Childline at Bisra had rescued a 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl two years ago and returned her to her parents. He said: “These women are sexually abused both by the middleman and the employer.”

He said there was also an increase in the number of unwed mothers. Citing statistics, he said: “In the past six months, I have received 63 unwanted children either at my doorstep or from different places.” Most of them were found in remote jungle or far-off areas, said Azad. He found that most of these children belonged to those women who had been trafficked.

“The maximum trafficking takes place between the 14-18 and 19-25 age groups at 41 and 38 per cent respectively,” said Behera. His study also revealed that apart from poverty and the search for greener pastures, the glamour of bigger cities also lured many women into the traffickers’ traps.

Sundargarh district superintendent of police Pinaki Mishra agreed with Behera.

Most of the traffickers are also known to the women. They are either relatives or neighbours. “And when the girl does not return for a long time, the relative goes missing,” said Behera.

Mishra admitted that despite human trafficking being a major problem in the district, inadequate manpower forced police actions to go for preventive drive than going on the offensive. “We have written to the government for help with more manpower,” he said.

He also plans awareness drives, and creating a data bank of the blocks affected

No trace of Khunti’s missing children

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A survey by EDISS in Karra village reveals that there are at least 20 cases where a child has been missing for over 10 years

A survey by EDISS in Karra village reveals that there are at least 20 cases where a child has been missing for over 10 years

Geeta Kumari (name changed) has not returned home in the past 10 years. A resident of a village in Karrablock of Khunti district, Geeta was only 12-year-old when she ‘disappeared’. Her parents have not been able to trace her. Shila Kumari (name changed) was trafficked to Delhi by a woman for domestic work when she was 11-year-old.

It’s been over three years now and her parents have no idea where she is. These are just two of over 20 such cases, in which children went missing from various villages of Karra block and have still not been traced.

These villages are situated in interior, forested region and the nearest Karra police station is located 13km away. Social activists of a non-government organisation, Entrepreneurship Development Institute of Social Services (EDISS), conducted a survey in Karra block for around two months in which they came across over 20 such cases of missing children, some of whom have been missing for over 10 years.
Ravi Kumar of EDISS, who was a part of the survey team, said, “The parents of these children are too scared of the traffickers to approach the police.
It took us over a month to convince some of the parents to approach the police station. Parents of eight missing children finally agreed and an FIR was registered in the Khunti Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU).” Khunti AHTU in-charge Meera Singh said, “These are all cases of human trafficking. FIRs have been lodged and we are probing into the matter.” Baidnath Kumar, another activist who was also a part of the survey team, said that names of two traffickers —Shiva and Kunjal Mahato —have come to light during their probe. “Kunjal Mahato is an aide of the trafficking kingpin Pannalal Mahato.
These traffickers are learnt to have been threatening the villagers whenever they try enquiring about their children.” Mother of a trafficked girl who had approached Shiva to ask about her daughter was not just threatened but also beaten up, leading to a fractured arm. Ravi Kumar said he too also threatened by the traffickers. “When I initially started visiting the villages, Shiva and another person, Budhni Munda, threatened me to stop going there. I am planning to file a complaint against them,” Ravi said.

 

NIA likely to investigate human trafficking cases

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) could be empowered to investigate cases of human trafficking, in what seems to be a breakthrough in the nearly year-long consultations among various stakeholders, including the home ministry and the ministry of women and child development.

Sources say the additional responsibility for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) would be part of the proposed anti-human trafficking law unveiled by Maneka Gandhi last year.

The move will also require amending the law that gave birth to the counter-terrorism agency — the National Investigation Act, 2008.

The Draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016, proposed setting up a National Bureau on Trafficking in Person for “prevention, investigation of the trafficking of persons cases and protection of the victims of trafficking” — a role which could be performed by the NIA, sources said.

“The ministry of home affairs (MHA) wanted NIA to investigate trafficking and we have agreed to that. MHA has also given its approval for the draft Bill. After we get a green flag from Prime Minister’s Office, a Cabinet note will be circulated,” according to a top official of the ministry of women and child development.

Another official said “a cell within NIA” could be probing human trafficking cases.

After the Union Cabinet gives its approval, the draft bill will be tabled before Parliament.

“Traffickers enjoy immunity because local police agencies are not able to probe inter-state or cross-border crimes. We require a nodal agency as 80-90 per cent of trafficking cases span across various states,” said Ravi Kant, Supreme Court Advocate & President of NGO Shakti Vahini,  explaining why activists have been seeking a central body to probe human trade.

Government officials say to empower the NIA to investigate trafficking cases the National Investigation Act, 2008, will have to be amended.

The NIA was set up by the previous UPA government in 2009 to probe terrorist activities in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people.

As per the National Investigation Act, the anti-terror body is empowered to probe offences under eight specified laws, including the Atomic Energy Act 1962, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, and the Anti-Hijacking Act 1982.

The proposed anti-human trafficking legislation will be independent of the existing law on trafficking in relation to prostitution — Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 — while a section of the civil society has sought an umbrella law.

The draft law divides offences into “trafficking” and “aggravated trafficking”.

The punishment for offences in the former category is rigorous imprisonment between 7 and 10 years and a fine of not less than Rs 1 lakh, while aggravated forms of trafficking will invite a jail term of between 10 years and life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Rs 5 lakh.

Aggravated trafficking will include trafficking of children, transgenders, differently-abled, pregnant women and those which involve use of drugs and alcohol.

There is also a provision for a national committee as well as a central fund for the relief and rehabilitation services for the victims.

Two alleged human traffickers arrested

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New Delhi, Nov 15 (PTI) Two men, carrying a cash reward of Rs 50,000 each on their head for allegedly running a human trafficking syndicate, were arrested, police said today.

Two men, carrying a cash reward of Rs 50,000 each on their head for allegedly running a human trafficking syndicate, were arrested, police said today.

Two alleged human traffickers arrested

In November 2013, a human trafficking racket was busted in central Delhi’s Kamla Market and eight suspected pimps from the GB Road, were held, they said.

During investigation, it was revealed that the racket was being run by Saidulla Ali Gyan (43) and Atiyar Sheikh (33), the police said.

Efforts were made to arrest them but in vain, they said, adding a cash reward of Rs 50,000 each was declared on their arrest.

Last month, it was learnt that the two accused were residing in Kolkata, West Bengal, and continuing their human trafficking business from there, P S Kushwah, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell), said.

Sources were deployed in Kolkata and nearby districts to track them, he said.

On November 14, Gyan and Sheikh were nabbed from the Sealdah railway station, Kolkata, the DCP said.

Gyan was engaged in the human trafficking business for the last 10 years and used to lure poor people on the pretext of getting them a job and sending them to Delhi with the help of Sheikh, he said.

Bill to regulate placement agencies in Delhi still at discussion stage, expected to be ready by Dec

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Delhi’s placement agency bill will have stricter punishment for agencies employing minors and will propose action against employers hiring child domestic workers.

The delay by the Delhi government in coming up with a bill to regulate placement agencies has resulted in an unregulated business flourishing at the cost of human rights.

Hundreds of minors ,mostly girls, from villages of Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh are trafficked to Delhi and employed as domestic help.

Hundreds of minors ,mostly girls, from villages of Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh are trafficked to Delhi and employed as domestic help.(HT FILE)

The rescue of three girls from a house in north Delhi’s Model Town has once again brought up the issue of protecting domestic help in the national capital.

While states like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are active in regulating the sector, Delhi’s placement agency bill is still at the discussion stage. “We are in the final stage of discussion and should be ready by the end of this month,” said labour commissioner Sanjay Saxena.

Sources said that the bill will have stricter punishment for agencies employing minors and will propose action against the employer hiring child domestic workers.

The Jharkhand government bill, which is yet to be approved by the governor, has made it mandatory for placement agencies to maintain a register of employer and employees.

“The bill is must to control the trafficking of minors. I was part of Jharkhand bill and ensured that it should be called placement agency and domestic workers bill. It has covered almost every aspect and should be replicated in Delhi. It has explained the situation of placement agencies and domestic workers very well,” said Amod Kanth, chairperson of Domestic Workers Sector Skill Council (DWSSC) and also head of NGO Prayas, which rescued the three girls in Model Town.

Hundreds of minors (mostly girls) from villages of Jharkhand, Bihar and Chhattisgarh are trafficked to Delhi and employed as domestic help. Jharkhand chief minister had recently said that over 50,000 girls from Jharkhand are in metro cities and about 50% of them are in Delhi.

“The bill is expected to curb trafficking and stop exploitation of domestic helps. We have been demanding the bill for long and government has promised to table it in the next assembly session. It has provision of criminal action against employer, which would deter the common public,” said Rakesh Senger, director (campaign) of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.

Despite repeated attempts, labour minister Gopal Rai could not be contacted.

The draft bill of the Delhi government also talks about timely salary and the payment that should directly go to employee from the employer’s account.