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Events Corner

State- Level Judicial Colloquium On Anti- Human Trafficking

15 Jan 2023 5:01 AM GMT

A grand State- level Judicial Colloquium was organised by Judicial Academy, Jharkhand on ‘Anti- Human Trafficking’ on 14th January, 2023. Justice Shree Chandrashekhar, Justice Ananda Sen, Justice Rajesh Kumar, Justice Ambuj Nath , Justice Navneet Kumar and Justice Pardeep Kumar Srivastava attended the colloquium. The Colloquium saw participation from Judicial Officers, Bureaucrats, Prosecutors, members of Jharkhand State Child Protection Society, Police, advocates and NGOs. The Colloquium comprised of four sessions focusing on the varying dimensions of human trafficking, the law and policies regarding it and the role of different stakeholders in preventing, handling and rehabilitating victims of human trafficking.

The Colloquium started with Welcome Address by Shri Sudhanshu Kumar Shashi, Director, Judicial Academy, Jharkhand. This was followed by Introductory address by Justice Ananda Sen, Judge, High Court of Jharkhand. The first session was on ‘Dimensions of Human Trafficking, Good Trafficking, Good Practices, Challenges and Role of Law Enforcement Agencies’ by Shri P.M. Nair, IPS (Retd.), Former Director General, NDRF. The second session was on ‘Overview on Policy, Laws and Judicial intervention on Human Trafficking in India’ by Dr. Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan, Associate Professor, National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. The third session was on, ‘Role of Investigating Agencies in dealing with Human trafficking cases’ by Shri Ravi Kant, President Shakti Vahini Organisation, Delhi. The fourth session was on, ‘Psycho- sociological Impact of Trafficking: Steps for Rescue and Rehabilitation of Victims and Post-Rescue Care’ by Dr. Pravin Patkar, Director, Prerna, Mumbai.

In his address, Justice Ananda Sen remarked that how ironical it was that on the one hand we are discussing issues like right to privacy and right to internet access as fundamental rights while on the other hand we are holding a discussion on Human trafficking victims who don’t even get the very basic of rights that the Constitution gives us. Trafficking is a crime against humanity. The victims of human trafficking suffer unbearable agony and the trauma multiplies manifold when the victims are women and children. Trafficking involves transfer, harbour, recruitment or receiving of persons for the purposes of exploitation. The word exploitation includes acts of sexual and physical exploitation and practices similar to slavery. Thus, not only trafficking is a penal offence but exploiting a person who has been trafficked is also a penal offence. This conference is meant to address the issues faced by stakeholders in dealing with human- trafficking cases.

The role of law enforcement agencies is immense. Unless, they are able to get correct information on time, it becomes difficult for them to track the victim and the real perpetrator of the crime. Identifying and rescuing the victim at the very initial stage is a real challenge for the Law Enforcement Agencies. For this, the Intelligence system should be robust. Further, recourse can be taken to some of the legal provisions. Section 39 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 casts a duty on the public to give information of commission of certain offences which sadly does not include Section 370 and 370A of IPC which deal with human trafficking. An amendment is required to include the same. Section 40(1)(c) of CrPC which casts a duty on the officers of the village as well as villagers to report the incidence of any non- bailable offence in their village is also helpful in this regard.

The standard of living of the people of state of Jharkhand is poor. The main income of the tribals here is working as labour-force within the state or outside. In such a situation, they become gullible to baits of employment thrown by unscrupulous traffickers. Further, these people don’t even know about their rights. The legal services Authorities can educate them with respect to their rights regarding employment.

In many cases the person is trafficked by his own neighbour or family. In such cases, it becomes difficult to detect trafficking. Effective participation is required from the social communities, NGOs, Prosecutors and Migration Officers. Further, Trafficking can be inter- state and inter-country as well. When the victim goes beyond the border, identifying and rescuing the victim becomes even more of an uphill task. Given the porous borders of our country, in many parts of India, trafficking across borders is rampant. The Law Enforcement Agencies can take help of Section 166A of Code of Criminal Procedure to seek assistance of the foreign authorities in investigation of trafficking cases.

The judiciary is also an important stakeholder in the process. It is their duty to ensure fair trial so that the justice is rendered to victim. The Judicial Officers should minutely scrutinize the statements made by victims and frame charges accordingly without being swayed by the charge sheet alone. The judicial officers should also be sensitive to the mental status of the victim and the trauma that the victim has undergone. The court has to ensure that the dignity of victim is maintained at all stages.

Procuring the attendance of victim in court is also a challenge. The challenge is immense in cases of inter-country trafficking. We can take the aid of technology to record the statements of victims from their place of residence itself. There are SOPs prepared by the High Courts in this regard, help of which can be taken by the Officers.

Lastly, the NGOs have a significant role to play in the rehabilitation of victims. The more the time taken to identify and rescue victims, the more difficult it is to rehabilitate them.

Many states as well Ministry of Home Affairs have issued SOPs and advisories for rescuing, rehabilitating and repatriating the victims of human trafficking.

In recent years, Jharkhand has become a target of traffickers. The trafficker’s lure the tribals with jobs, marriage, better life, etc. The increase of cases in the state is because of lack of awareness and lack of proper implementation of the welfare schemes. The state of Jharkhand also lacks proper domestic framework to regulate domestic work and placement agencies. In a recent study on the cases of trafficking in Jharkhand, it was found that the traffickers were victim’s own neighbours and relatives. This is an added challenge as often the witnesses turn hostile in such cases to save their family members. Extreme poverty and alcohol addiction are the underlying factors behind inter-state trafficking.

As of 2021, about 60% of the trafficked victims in Jharkhand are below the age of 18 years. There are about 8 Anti- Human Trafficking units in Jharkhand. This number should grow.

Some of the positive initiatives taken by government are, Shakti, an initiative of the Jharkhand Police is a mobile application that allows women to send a distress call to the police. The government has also established child friendly courts in the state, which can provide a comfortable for child victims and witnesses to depose.

Shri P.M. Nair

He talked about his first encounter relating to human trafficking which was in Palamu. During the day, the children were made to work for about 13 hrs in the carpet factory and in the night, they underwent sexual exploitation. All the 132 children were rescued and perpetrators were convicted as well with the coordinated efforts of law enforcement agencies and pro- active approach of judiciary. In order to eradicate human trafficking, all the stakeholders have to work together.

Dr. Sarfaraz Ahmad Khan

Jharkhand has the highest conviction rate. Dr. Khan deliberated upon the application of Immoral trafficking (Prohibition) Act, 1956 and how it can be applied to deal with cases of trafficking for immoral purposes like sexual exploitation, etc.

Shri Ravi Kant

Shri Ravi Kant talked about how seeking conviction of victims of Human Trafficking is an arduous task. In Jharkhand cases are tough, the women are generally trafficked for domestic labour and the witnesses turn hostile during the long process of trial of trafficking. Further, compensation is not easily granted. Compensation is not awarded swiftly. It should be remembered that compensation is not charity, it is the right of the victim.

Shri Pravin Patkar

Shri Patkar talked about how his organisation, Prerna has worked against trafficking of women for several years. Their organisation has rescued and rehabilitated about 20,000 women from prostitution. They have rescued and rehabilitated several minors as well.

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