UNODC is cosponsor of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS - UNAIDS
Judicial Colloquium on Human Trafficking, 4 - 5 August 2007
This colloquium took place on 4-5 August 2007 in Hyderabad and was designed to consider how to ensure speedy delivery of justice regarding anti human trafficking crimes pending in the courts. All three wings of the criminal justice system - judiciary, prosecution and police - were present for the occasion, organized in the Andhra Pradesh (AP) Judicial Academy under the auspices of the Honourable Chief Justice of AP, Mr. Singhvi, with support from the CID wing of Andhra Pradesh Police and UNODC. The 2 day deliberations witnessed intense deliberations among 50 participants.
The event was inaugurated by the Hon'ble Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh Mr. Singhvi and Representative of UNODC ROSA Mr. Gary Lewis. The welcome address was given by Mr. Ratan - Addl. DGP - CID, Andhra Pradesh. The key resource persons included Dr. P.M. Nair, Project Coordinator (UNODC), Dr. Sunitha Krishnan Executive Director - Prajwala and Ms. Aparna Bhat - Advocate, Supreme Court among others. The participants developed a Plan of Action for themselves in ensuring expeditious delivery of justice and bringing about a change in the anti human trafficking scenario in Andhra Pradesh.
Remarks by Gary Lewis, Representative, UNODC South Asia at the Judicial Colloquium on Human Trafficking 4 August 2007 Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
I can imagine few crimes more terrible than the sale of women and children for sexual exploitation and forced labour. This year - 2007 - marks the bicentennial of the end of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Yet, the fact remains that forms of the same phenomenon exist in our world today. This should fill us with shame. And with rage.
By the same token, there are few jobs that I consider more noble than fighting
human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Trafficking is a global crime and it is organized. It is a multi-billion dollar industry - some estimates put it at $32 billion in turnover - that create profits for those who are involved. It affects millions of people, particularly in poor countries.
Trafficking of women and children has been the focus of governments all over the world and of the international community. In many ways - especially from the legal point of view - India has been a front-runner in the battle against trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation.
The criminalization of trafficking flows from Article 23(1) of the Constitution, the highest law of the land, which states that - "Traffic in human beings and 'begar' and other similar forms of forced labor are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law".
We have had the necessary legislation in place, principally the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956, plus several pieces of labour legislation and the Indian Penal Code. These form a composite legal code for the prosecution and punishment of traffickers. In addition, two landmark judgments of the Supreme Court of India - Vishal Jeet Vs Union of India in 1990 and Gaurav Jain Vs. Union of India in 1997 - have brought the issue into much sharper focus.
These judgments directed the Government of India, among other things, to prepare a National Plan to Combat Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Women and Children. As a result of this, the National Plan was drafted in 1998, and provides a comprehensive strategy for the Central and State Governments to address the several issues related to the subject, especially, prevention, rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration.
One of the prescriptions of the National Plan was to prepare a special module for sensitization, training and orientation of judicial officials towards the causes of commercial sexual exploitation and the situation of women and child victims.
For this reason we have convened this special sensitization programme today for judicial officers, prosecutors and police officers in Andra Pradesh. The module will cover trafficking and the role of the Indian judiciary. Specific areas will be (a) empowering provisions of law, (b) a human rights perspective on the rights of the victims of trafficking (c) sensitivity to gender and child rights issues, (d) the protection of the rights of victims of trafficking at the stage of prosecution and (e) expeditious disposal of cases.
Our purpose is simply to sensitize over the next two days, those colleagues from the judiciary as well as colleagues from the police and prosecutorial services on these matters. I would like to close by thanking Honourable Chief Justice Singhvi of Andhra Pradesh who has been the originator of the idea for this idea for a colloquium, for his leadership and vision.
My best wishes to you all for the duration of the colloquium.