Why in News?
On July 4, 2021, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has invited comments/suggestions from all stakeholders on the draft ‘Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021’.
- A draft of anti-trafficking bill was introduced in 2018 but could not be introduced in Rajya.
- As per UN’s human rights experts, it was not according to international human rights laws.
- The previous bill had certain vague provisions, could have institutionalized victims in name of rehabilitation, seemed to combine sex work and migration with trafficking.
Objectives of the Bill
- The bill seeks to prevent and counter trafficking in persons, especially women and children, to provide care, protection and rehabilitation of victims.
- It also aims at respecting the rights of the victims, creating legal, economic and social environment for them and also ensure prosecution of offenders and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
What is trafficking (in persons)?
- Trafficking in person is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbowring or receipt of people through force fraud or deception with the aim of exploiting them for profit.
Provisions of the Bill
- Stringent punishment for offenders, including hefty fines and seizing of their properties.
- It extends beyond the protection of women and children as victims and include transgenders as well as any person who may be a victim of trafficking.
- The draft of the bill has removed provision that a victim necessarily needs to be transported from one place to another to be defined as a victim.
- The exploitation of the prostitution of other forms of sexual exploitation including pornography and act of physical exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or forced removal of organs, illegal clinical drug trials or illegal bio-medical research.
- It extends to all citizens inside as well as outside India and also to government officers.
- Properties and income earned or used in trafficking can now be forfeited, similar to cases of Money Laundering Act and shall be investigated by National Investigation Agency (NIA).
- A National Anti-Human Trafficking Committee will be constituted once the law is enacted with home secretary as the chairperson and secretary of the women and child development ministry as co-chair. Similar committees will be constituted at the state and district level.
Articles /Legislations already in place for Protection from Trafficking in India
- Article 23(1) of the Constitution of India prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labour.
- Section 366 A and 372 of the IPC prohibits kidnapping and selling minors into prostitution respectively.
- The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 penalizes trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
- The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976, Child Labour (Prohibition and Abolition) Act 1986 and Juvenile Justice Act prohibits bonded and forced labour.
Campaigns, Conventions and Protocols against trafficking
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights. published in 1948 is an international document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It establishes the right of every human to live with dignity and prohibits slavery.
- Blue Heart Campaign, an international anti trafficking program started by UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
- Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons (Drafted in 2000), especially women and children as part of the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime.
- Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (entered into force on 28th January, 2004), aimed at the protection of rights of migrants and the reduction of the power and influence of organized criminal groups that abuse migrants.
- Sustainable Development Goals seeks to holistically address trafficking by striking at its roots by various goals –
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Goals 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive socities for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
In light of the increasing cases of trafficking, it is necessary that a strict law must be in place which is sensitive towards the needs of the victim. The prosecutions and convictions of all forms of trafficking are equally important. The new bill is a significant step in dealing with pervasive malaise because it will comprehensively deal with cases through an institutional mechanism and international cooperation.