India has failed to implement human trafficking laws: activists

June 17th, 2009 - 5:14 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 17 (IANS) India has enough laws to check human trafficking but implementation of these laws is not a priority of the government, said human rights activists reacting to a US government report slamming India for not doing enough to check human trafficking.
“The government is not serious about checking human trafficking in the country. We have enough laws to deal with the problem but lack the will to enforce them,” Subhash Chakma, director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) told IANS.

According to Chakma, human trafficking is an organised crime and traffickers are working without fear of the law.

“The laws dealing with human trafficking are not acting as a deterrent for those involved in the business. They know that even after being caught they can easily escape as prosecution will take years,” Chakma said.

The 2009 Trafficking in Persons report released by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday said: “India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation.”

Bibinaz Thokchom, programme officer child protection at Haq, an NGO working for child rights, said: “There is a big problem of child trafficking especially girls trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh. The problem is more with the implementation part and not the law.”

“There are some lacunae in the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA), which needs to be amended. Moreover, implementation and reinforcement of the law is not on the agenda of the government,” said Mohammed Aftab, child rights protection manager with NGO Save the Children.

“Our main focus should be to prevent child trafficking and not to fight the law. We have to reach the root cause of trafficking and we should see that development schemes for poor and backward class reach them,” Aftab said.

According to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India has emerged as a source, destination and transit country for human trafficking. Human trafficking is the world’s third largest organised crime after narcotics and arms trafficking.

However, the government feels that efforts are being made to check human trafficking.

“Efforts are on by the government to strengthen enforcement of human trafficking laws. Schemes have also been launched by the women and child development ministry to prevent, rescue and rehabilitate victims of trafficking,” a senior law officer dealing with the human trafficking issue in the government said on condition of anonymity.

“The issue is no doubt serious and must be addressed with all seriousness and any positive suggestions in the US report must be used to further protect and promote rights of women and children but the issue should not be politicised,” he added.

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