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GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO MODERN SLAVERY

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO MODERN SLAVERY

CASE STUDY ON THE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO MODERN SLAVERY

SURVIVORS OF SLAVERY ARE SUPPORTED TO EXIT SLAVERY AND EMPOWERED TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF VULNERABILITY

The government hotline is known as ‘Child Line’. The hotline operates around the country in a number of different languages. It is toll-free and can be called around the country, and internationally. While it is called the ‘Child Line’, it can also be called to report tip offs of human trafficking crimes.
The mandate for victim support services sits with the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The primary scheme is the Ujjwalla programme, where money is distributed to different NGOs who provide the basic facilities for victims, including shelters, counselling and often vocational education. The Rural Ministry and the National Skill Development Mission also provide victim support schemes. The various programmes are coordinated among different ministries, and victims have the option to choose between the different schemes.
The Central Advisory Committee is under the Ministry of Women and Child Development that advises central ministries, state governments, civil societies, law enforcement agencies and autonomous organisations.

There are also victim support services for Indians exploited abroad. The Ministry of Indian Overseas Affairs deals with this issue. This ministry is also part of the specific trafficking coordination committee, however, they have an independent committee that deals with the other issues within their mandate.

It is difficult to determine the exact budget allocated to anti-trafficking initiatives, as there are a range of Departments that work on related issues. The government provides approximately INR 50,000 (approximately 830 USD) to each AHTU per year to provide immediate support to victims, such as food, clothing and medical assistance.

There is a victim compensation scheme operating in about 20 different States around the country. The scheme provides compensation to victims of any crime, including cases of acid attacks. The compensation amount varies between crime-type. For example, a victim of rape or assault will receive approximately 2.5Lakhs (approximately 41, 500 USD), and a victim of an acid attack will receive 3 Lakhs (approximately 50, 000 USD. Compensation for victims of trafficking only exists in a few state scheme.

The Government worked to develop an Anti-Human Trafficking Diploma at the Indira Ghandi Open University. The Diploma is largely targeted to service providers, but open other interested individuals as well. It is currently a six month course and to date, we have 900 people enrolled. As a way of scaling-up the awareness raising aspect of this Diploma, the government are subsiding the course and thinking about opening it to the SAARC regions as well.

There is a radio programme called ‘Gyan Ghan’ that focuses on raising awareness about human trafficking, and what aspects of the law can be used by people in the community. It is a live, phone-in programme that discuss a range of issues associated with human trafficking. There are a few radio channels that tell people about the trafficking units and raise awareness about human trafficking. The aim of these initiatives is to ensure that people understand what human trafficking is, and take notice of indicators that might suggest there is a case of trafficking occurring in the community. It encourages people to take note of who is moving in and out of the community, if people who leave ever return, and if people who leave, stay in contact with their families.

EFFECTIVE CRIMINAL JUSTICE RESPONSES ARE IN PLACE IN EVERY JURISDICTION

All provisions in the new law cover boys and men as well as women and girls. For example, section 317 is gender neutral, and indicates that trafficking is not specific to women and girls.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) are a critical scheme of the Government of India, which originated in a pilot programme undertaken with the UNODC. The pilot programme found that there were two large scale interventions that would be effective on the ground to combat human trafficking; one of those was the establishment AHTUs, and the other was the sensitisation, and capacity building for key stakeholders within the criminal justice system, including the police, prosecutors, the judiciary, and NGOs. The scheme was formulated in India with around 650 police districts, with around half of the districts to be used in the pilot scheme. It was decided that around 115 would be selected each year to form an AHTU. The AHTUs are established jointly by the federal and state government bodies. The State governments provide the office space and the officers, including an Inspector, two female constables and two head constables (typically five officers in each unit). The Federal government would then provide an SUV and the funding for a motorbike, a computer, cameras and basic office supplies. The funding and provisions provided by the Federal government is customised by for each unit, however, the same amount of funding is provided.

Each unit costs approximately 10 Lakhs (approximately 166, 000 USD) and the number of units in each state depends on the size of the state. For example, the bigger states like Uttar Pradesh will get 12 units per year, and the smaller states like Mahayana will get 3 units per year. In total, in 2010, 115 units were funded, and another 110 in the 2012/13 period. In addition to the 215 AHTUs already established, there are plans to provide the funding to establish another 110 AHTU across the state. The aim is to have an AHTU in each of the 650 districts.

The broad mandate of the AHTUs is the crime of human trafficking, however, officers may be involved in other crimes given there are not rescue operations every day. In some states, the AHTU officers cover crimes against women and children. It is important to note that not all officers in the AHTUs have the power to register a case, as they may not be a registered Police station, despite being located in the district police station. In these cases, there is a process to transfer the case to officers who can register it. This is largely because of the nature of the AHTUs, otherwise known as the “Integrated Anti-Human Trafficking Units”, which involves a number of key stakeholders from different departments. Given the diversity of people involved in these AHTUs, there is a process whereby officers from the different departments (including the police station) are contacted depending on the nature of the case. For example, there would be points of contact in the medical and labour departments and the Department of Women and Child Development.

The AHTUs and related state initiatives are monitored by the Ministry of Home Affairs. Key aspects monitored include the funding distribution and allocation, and the functionality and effectiveness of AHTUs. This is all through an inter-state/inter-ministerial coordination committee that meets quarterly. This meeting also provides a platform for the different Departments and Ministry representatives to talk to each other and increase cooperation. Other issues discussed and monitored include the funding and implementation of the training programmes (how many people have undertaken the training, what is being done to arrange more training, and how effective the structures on the ground are). This Committee meeting is attended by representatives from the Federal government, and then the state nodal officers are briefed afterwards. The meetings typically involve a discussion of previous actionable points, and a review of the decision and actions taken to address these points. This is also an accountability measure as States have to provide a report.

Capacity building and training for frontline law enforcement and service providers, including AHTUs was delivered around the country. Through the pilot programme with UNODC, extensive session plans were developed and training was, and is still delivered over three days. The initial training was undertaken with Ministers, people who have expertise in their given fields, including practitioners from different Departments and organisations, and police officers who were already working on the ground. The idea was that an initial national training would be undertaken with high level ministers from each state, who would then deliver the training in each of their states. To do this, the country was divided into six regions, from which people were nominated to attend. They undertook a 5-6 day training course and were then given the funding and training materials to deliver the training in each of their states. It was also recognised that there needed to be more than just police and law enforcement trained at the regional level, so the training was extended to other people involved in the AHTUs, including medical professionals, representatives from the Department of Women and Child Development, the Labour Department and people from civil society organisations. This was then further extended to public prosecutors, which included more targeted training at the national, state and district level.

There are an estimated 22 lakhs of police personnel in India, and more than 20,000 of those have been involved in the training. The training goes through the following issues:

  • How to identify a victim, including what the crime can look like, and the challenges involved in identifying victims.
  • The legislative framework and how this can be applied in a case of trafficking, including the different forms of trafficking (labour and sexual exploitation) and what components of the legislation can be used to prosecute these crimes.
  • The implementation of a victim-approach, including rehabilitation and support.
  • The process involved in an investigation, and who does and does not need to be involved through the various stages of an investigation or rescue – this includes the appropriate referral pathways.
  • Finally, the ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ with trafficking offenders and victims.

The session plans for these training programmes are very comprehensive and include visual materials, video and case studies. The training will be a continuous process, and needs to reflect the evolution of this crime. For example, investigating the recruitment of people for the purpose of trafficking over the internet.

Standard Operating Procedures were also developed during the UNODC pilot project. While they are not exactly SOPs, they work in the same way and have been translated into various local languages. Training programmes and session plans were also translated into local languages.

The training for prosecutors is the same three day course mentioned above, however, it has more emphasis on supporting victims through the court process. The training for prosecutors was noted to have changed the attitudes of prosecutors toward victims of this crime. There was also more emphasis on how to use the new legislation, and where it is applicable. For example, how to effectively file the charge sheet to include all aspects of the case (such as kid-napping, rape and deceit – not just one or the other). Approximately 1000 judges have been trained around the country.

The training was further extended to the judiciary, including Supreme and High Court Judges. This training is only a one day programme – the Judicial Colloquium. The state and district judges are also trained. To date, training has been conducted in Punjab, Mahayana, Chhattisgarh, Bombay, Chennai, and Delhi, with approximately 250 judges participating in each training.
While there is a separate legislative framework around bonded labour, the respective Departments work closely with the Ministry of labour. However, any rescue missions for a case of bonded labour will typically use general police officers. The integrated AHTUs can be involved in a rescue operation, however if the labour department or labour inspectors believe that there is a case of bonded labour, they can choose to use general duties police over the AHTU. The AHTU are in the process of trying to bring the stakeholders together, and the government are encouraging the sharing of information in this sector, and between these groups. Cases of bonded labour are prosecuted under the Bonded Labour Act.

The government is also implementing a new data system to publicly report on the number of investigation and prosecutions under the new laws. This data will be available at the end of 2014, however, there are approximately 5,000-6,000 cases currently being investigated under the various related laws.

EFFECTIVE AND MEASURABLE ACTION PLANS ARE IMPLEMENTED AND FULLY FUNDED

One of the practices that would represent a ‘best practice’ is the National trafficking portal, which is taking steps to better connect the different states and stakeholders. The coordination and cooperation among the different ministries and stakeholders, and their involvement in initiatives attempting to improve our response is also a good practice.

LAWS, POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES ADDRESS ATTITUDES, SOCIAL SYSTEMS AND INSTITUTIONS THAT CREATE VULNERABILITY AND ENABLE SLAVERY

There are national research institutes that have conducted research in this area, like the Bureau of Policy and Research. There has been specialised research conducted by groups like the National Human Rights Commission, who did a project on human trafficking in 2007. UN Women and Child Line have also done research in this space. Currently, the government is working with a few universities to commission research and the National Commission for Women.

There are provisions to ensure that there is cross-border engagement. India is part of the SAARC convention with countries such as Myanmar. More specifically, there is a task-force on human trafficking between India and Bangladesh, which largely involved higher level members. To date, this task-force has met four times. There are a number of mechanisms with neighbouring Nepal as well.

There are several dedicated agencies working to address the issues associated with corruption, however, it is not necessarily a specialised unit.

There is a special ministry that works with the issues associated with different castes in India. Their services and programmes include supports like scholarships and compensation.

CASE STUDY: BANGLADESHI GIRLS TRAFFICKED INTO THE SEX INDUSTRY IN DELHI

In one of the first cases of human trafficking prosecuted under the new laws, the government received reports of two Bangladeshi girls who had been trafficked into India. The reports were received from both an intelligence agency, and the girl’s parents who lodged a complaint with the Bangladeshi authorities as well. The girls were 15 and 17 years old sisters and it was suggested that the boy involved in the case was either a friend, or was in a relationship with one of the girls, who supposedly wanted marry her and provide them both with a better life. It turned out that the relationship was a scam, and the boy sold the girls into India. The girls were sold by a trafficker named Rocky who brought the two sisters to Pune and sold them to a brothel keeper for approximately INR50-70 000. Initially, the girls were separated.

The police took photographs of the girls around the red light district, and spoke to the locals, including rickshaw drivers to determine if the girls had been seen in the area. One rickshaw driver confirmed seeing the girls. The police conducted a rescue operation in the area, and rescued five minor girls, however, the two girls from Bangladesh were not there. A second rescue operation had the same result. In the third operation, one of the victims knew about the two girls and provided information on their whereabouts. One of the girls was rescued in the fourth operation, who provided enough information to locate the trafficker and her older sister in a fifth rescue operation. It is evident here that the training has been beneficial, as the investigation process went through all the elements in the trafficking chain – the sporter, the transporter, the supplier, the buyer and the brothel owner.

Both girls were put into a shelter and provided with counselling and support. Photographs and names were provided to the Bangladeshi officials at the Consul, who confirmed who the girls were and their nationality. A week after the operation, the girls were successfully repatriated back to Bangladesh along with eight other girls.

There are a number of stakeholders involved during both the investigation stage, and then in the rescue operation. This includes the police, counsellors and other services. A counsellor from an NGO will typically be involved throughout the rescue operation, particularly during questioning. The police do have these services, and can also provide translators where necessary.
Once the girls were repatriated, the people involved were charged under the new trafficking provisions, the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, and for kidnapping and rape. This was a relatively straightforward prosecution, because the girls could provide details of their situation to police. This is not always the case, as often victims are too traumatised to speak to police. The girls in this case provided their statement prior to being repatriated, which will inform the prosecution. Often the statement needs to be delivered in court, and there are facilities to do this via video-link.
Of the people involved, a list of the offenders was sent to the Bangladeshi officials as well. A total of six offenders were arrested and eight victims were repatriated.
The news of this case being prosecuted under the new provisions has spread to the different regions, and while there is evidence the training on human trafficking and legislation has been effective, there is still a significant amount of work to be done in this area.

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