On Wednesday (July 11th, 2018) nearly dozens of human survivors of human trafficking wrote to 10 women MPs to support and pass the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018, and appealed to support the Bill “to ensure the safety of women and children… so they do not suffer from violence anymore.”
The letter which was sent to Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani, as well as MPs from Opposition parties, including Jaya Bachchan, Sushmita Dev, and Supriya Sule, stated that the survivors, mostly between 16 and 25 years of age, had come together under the banner of Utthan.
The anti-trafficking legislation is likely to come up in the Monsoon Session of Parliament on July 18th, 2018.
Advocate Kaushik Gupta of Calcutta High Court who has taken the case of Utthan members said that “of the hundreds of survivors of human trafficking from the State, very few have got compensation even after the intervention of the courts and NGOs… the new Bill provides rehabilitation as a right of the survivor. The Bill also clearly defines what constitutes rehabilitation.”
A survivor from North 24 Parganas said that “Unless the trafficker is punished we cannot live peacefully in our homes. We need special courts and a dedicated agency to take care of our cases.”
All about the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018
On February 28th, 2018 the Union Cabinet approved the Anti-Trafficking Bill which was introduced in May 2016 by the Minister for Women and Child Development (MWCD).
The Bill broadly has the following features:-
- Addresses the issue of trafficking from the point of view of prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation.
- Aggravated forms of trafficking, which includes trafficking for the purpose of forced labour, begging, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage etc.
- Punishment for promoting or facilitating trafficking of person which includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements; or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.
- The confidentiality of victims/ witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity. Further, the confidentiality of the victims is maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (this also helps in trans-border and inter-State crimes).
- Time-bound trial and repatriation of the victims - within a period of one year from taking into cognizance.
- Immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The Victims are entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.
- Rehabilitation of the victim which is not contingent upon criminal proceedings being initiated against the accused or the outcome thereof.
- Rehabilitation Fund created for the first time. To be used for the physical, psychological and social well-being of the victim including education, skill development, health care/psychological support, legal aid, safe accommodation, etc.
- Designated courts in each district for the speedy trial of the cases.
- The Bill creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State and Central Level. These will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. National Investigation Agency (NIA) will perform the tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level present under the MHA.
- Punishment ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh.
- In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, the Bill provides for the attachment & forfeiture of property and also the proceeds for crime.
- The Bill comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of the crime. The National Anti-Trafficking Bureau will perform the functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations; international assistance in investigation; facilitate inter-State and trans-border transfer of evidence and materials, witnesses and others for expediting prosecution; facilitate inter-state and international video conferencing in judicial proceedings etc.