Success of initiatives being taken now will hinge on implementation and accountability mechanisms, Nobel Peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi said at the National Consultation on Eradication of Bonded Labour and Trafficking on Friday.
The event was organised by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, where sessions were held on issues including trafficking of bonded and child labourers, trafficking for sexual exploitation, rehabilitation of victims of trafficking and effective coordination among agencies.
Addressing the consultation, Ministry of Labour and Employment Secretary Shankar Aggarwal said: “Growth will remain meaningless unless it is inclusive and promotes development of disadvantageous sections of society. We are committed to eradicating all forms of exploitation through strong deterrents and rehabilitation mechanisms for victims.”
Senior officials from the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Women and Child Development; chairperson and members of the National Commission on Protection of Child Rights and State Commissions on Child Rights and State Child Labour Commissions threw light on various crucial initiatives by the government towards child protection, such as the revised Central Sector Scheme for Bonded Labourers, the Draft Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Rules (out for public consultation) and a comprehensive Human Trafficking Law.
It was announced that under the new Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer Scheme, financial assistance for persons freed from bonded labour has been increased 15 times — from Rs.20,000 to Rs.3 lakh in case of children rescued from trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Mr. Satyarthi said the government has taken huge strides in building a policy framework against trafficking, but gaps still exist with respect to prevention and protection against trafficking, effective rehabilitation of victims and conviction of offenders.
“The key lies in recognising that these crimes are not disparate offences, but are different forms of slavery. Convergence of efforts at the Central, State and district levels among various agencies for rehabilitation is essential for complete elimination of child trafficking,” he said.
Mr. Satyarthi demanded that States adopt the bonded labourers scheme and the juvenile justice rules as soon as the central model rules are notified.
“The benefits of new legislations will only reach the most neglected child when processes and procedures of implementation are strengthened and accountability is ensured.
Tough initiatives towards creating an economic deterrent, along with strong institutional mechanisms, are the need of the hour,” he added.
Officials from across departments committed to ensuring strong implementation plans to decrease delay in implementation of rescue, comprehensive rehabilitation or prosecution. Representatives from the Centre and States shared measures to identify and replicate good practices of implementation.
Ministry of Labour and Employment Joint Secretary Bipin Mallick said: “Since 1976, only 2,82,000 bonded labourers across the country have been identified and released. This is not enough.
All of us have to work together in coordination on this issue.”
The key lies in recognising that these crimes are not disparate offences, but are different forms of slavery