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UN report calls for better coordination to check trafficking menace

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NEW DELHI: The recent report by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has laid down several steps to check the trafficking menace in the capital.

The recommendations talks about practices that can be put into place changes in the police force and the local administration. To begin with, it suggested that the local police co-ordinate more with the crime branch-led anti-human trafficking units (AHTU) present in the 11 districts of the city. “The cases need to be transferred from the local police to AHTU instead of getting entangled in getting of in to turf wars.”

It has also suggested that victims cannot be forced to travel to Delhi from far-flung areas to testify in Delhi courts. it is time that the victims are not forced to travel from far flung districts of Bengal and Bihar to Delhi to testify in courts.

Instead, UNODC believes, video-conferencing might be the way out.

Besides strictly following the standard operating protocols (SOP) for inter-state investigations, there is also an urgent need of a country SOP for repatriation of victims to Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan, said Rishi Kant of the NGO Shakti Vahini, who co-wrote the country assessment report on human trafficking. The Saarc protocol provides a mandate for such co-operation. “The present process done at the NGO level is slow and sometimes it takes months,” he added.

UNODP also said emphasis should be laid on cornering traffickers at the source and transit points. “Panchayati raj institutions should be strengthened at the states from where these children and women come. In Delhi, institutions like RWAs and anganwadis as well as MCD schools should report missing children to police,” said a Childline co-coordinator.

“We need to look into how trafficking has changed beyond forced marriages and prostitution. Besides bonded labour, there are organ trading gangs and paedophiles active in this circuit – the third largest illegal business in India after drugs and arms sale. There is also cross-border movement with new routes like the Nepal-Katihar (Bihar)-Siliguri ( West Bengal)- Bhutan-Bangkok (Thailand) which few agencies are even aware of. Unless, training and intelligence gathering goes hand in hand, the units cannot be successful,” said a top officer from Centre for Social Research who have been helping MHA to tackle such issues.

Officials of the Union home ministry and Delhi Police, however, believe that both police and the administration need to train the lower brass to change their mentality towards such victims. “The popular notion to book the victim under Sections 12 and 20 of

the Immoral Trafficking Act instead of punishing the traffickers is just one of the problems with our cops. We have now issued advisories asking all cops to desist from using these sections,” said a senior police officer.

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