The lack of awareness among the police and the judiciary often stand in the way of implementation of laws, says P.M. Nair, who was nodal officer for Anti-Human Trafficking, NHRC.
“The police need to be trained and professionally empowered to improve their handling of cases of human trafficking,” says P.M. Nair, former Director General of Police, National Disaster Response Force.
“The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act was greatly amended in 1986. When we conducted a survey in 2004, we found that only 6.6 per cent of police officers had some exposure to the anti-trafficking law. If the police are not trained, where does the fault lie?” says Mr. Nair, who was also the nodal officer for Anti-Human Trafficking, National Human Rights Commission.
Mr. Nair has been working to counter human trafficking operations in his more than three-decade-long service in law enforcement and afterwards. He is in the city to take part in the national consultation meeting on ‘Anti-trafficking strategies and roadmap to address the issues’ organised by the Human Rights Law Network, Kerala, and supported by the U.S. Consulate, Chennai.
The lack of awareness among the police and the judiciary often stand in the way of implementation of laws. For example, it is mandatory that the police immediately take a victim of sexual abuse for medical examination when he or she reports the crime. “But I have seen that not every police officer is aware of this,” says Mr. Nair. A training programme conducted by the NHRC in five States showed tremendous improvement in the attitude of the police, he says.
It has to be remembered that human trafficking is an organised crime, not an isolated one, says Mr. Nair. “When a child is trafficked from Kumarakom to Andhra Pradesh, agents from both places will be involved. There will also be several others, police officers or other officials, aiding the operation along the way. Not everyone, but at least some will be involved,” he says.
A proactive response from the police and legal machinery as well as the media could help curb the number of human trafficking cases. Any change in attitude of the police should start from the bottom, he adds.
“Some investment is needed to instil accountability at all levels of the force.” Accountability, he clarifies, should not be just through documentation. It has to be self-induced.
“A policeman in uniform will never smoke. That is not just because of the service rules. It is because of self-induced accountability. That will make him more responsible towards his duty,” he says.