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‘Anti-trafficking laws lack teeth’

Staff Reporter
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Low conviction rate of traffickers causing concern

Against exploitation:(From left) B. Sandhya, Inspector General of Police (Crimes) & State Nodal Officer (Anti-Human Trafficking); T. Asaf Ali, Director General of Prosecution, Kerala; Prem Shanker, Director General of Police & Police Commission; and B. Bhamathi, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, Government of India, at a workshop on anti-human trafficking in Thrissur on Saturday.
Against exploitation:(From left) B. Sandhya, Inspector General of Police (Crimes) & State Nodal Officer (Anti-Human Trafficking); T. Asaf Ali, Director General of Prosecution, Kerala; Prem Shanker, Director General of Police & Police Commission; and B. Bhamathi, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, Government of India, at a workshop on anti-human trafficking in Thrissur on Saturday.

The anti-human trafficking laws in the country lacked teeth to provide adequate protection for women and children, T. Asaf Ali, Director General of Prosecution, Kerala, has said.

He was addressing a state-level workshop on ‘Anti-human trafficking’ for prosecutors, police officers, and child welfare committee members at the Kerala Police Academy here on Saturday.

“The country needs to develop a comprehensive and more efficient anti-trafficking law to prevent, suppress and punish human-trafficking, especially of women and children. There are many loopholes in the existing laws to prevent trafficking,” he said.

It was duty of prosecutors and police officers to alert the government on the need to formulate more efficient legislation for the safety of women and children, he said.

The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000; Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956; Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986; Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976; and The Transplantation of Human Organ Act, 1994 are the laws to prevent human-trafficking in the county.

Director General of Police & Police Commission Prem Shanker said that many investigation officers were ignorant or insensitive towards crimes against women and children.

Though the country has made significant efforts in prevention of human trafficking, low conviction rates remain a cause for concern, he said. Addressing the gathering B. Bhamathi, Additional Secretary and Financial Advisor, Government of India, said that decriminalisation of victims and criminalisation of demand should be the ultimate goal of any legislation or campaign against human trafficking.

She stressed the need for combining the law enforcement and rehabilitation efforts to end human-trafficking.

“Stigma in society against rescued victims, ostracisation by family, poverty and gender discrimination are the major challenges for rehabilitation of trafficking victims,” she said.

Inspector General of Police (Crimes) & State Nodal Officer (Anti-Human Trafficking), B. Sandhya called for pro-active role of the District Anti-Human Trafficking Units for preventing crimes against women and children.

Director General of Police (Training) Kerala Police Academy, and course coordinator P. Premnath also spoke.

The three-day seminar will also discuss topics including ‘Laws relating to sexual exploitation, ruling and existing practices’, ‘Enforcement of Juvenile Justice Act and other legal provisions’; ‘Role of prosecutors in best interest of victims and survivors’; and ‘Investigative aspect of human trafficking’ .

The workshop is being organised by the KEPA in association with Bureau of Police Research and Development under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

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