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Andhra Pradesh acts against Human Traffickers
Project S 16 helps set up 3 AHTUs, in Hyderabad, Eluru and Anantapur
Andhra Pradesh received a fillip in its struggle against
human trafficking this week with the provision of equipment by the United Nations for three new Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) in Hyderabad, Eluru and Anantapur.
Home Minister, AP, Mr . Jana Reddy flagging off the vehicle provided by UNODC and thereupon launching the 1st AHTU in the country. Seen in the picture are UNODC officials (Mr Gary Lewis and Dr P.M. Nair) and top police officials of AP( including Mr Basith, DG Police and others)
The AHTUs were inaugurated at the Police Managers Workshop organized in Hyderabad on 22 January 2007 by the Hon'ble Home Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Jana Reddy inaugurated the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit. Mr. Gary Lewis, Representative, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - Regional Office for South Asia (UNODC ROSA) and Mr. P.M. Nair, Project Coordinator, Anti-Human Trafficking, UNODC ROSA were also present for the event, along with Mr Basith, Director General of Police and several top ranking police officials of AP. The day's programme was attended by more than 50 police officials from different parts of AP.
The senior officials who participated in the events of the day included Ms Vasudha Mishra, Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development of the Govt of AP and Ms Manjula Krishnan, Joint Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India.
The AHTUs are part of an effort supported by UNODC in five states in India with significant human trafficking problems to beef up the law enforcement response and target traffickers. Each of these dedicated and self-contained Units has been provided with 1 vehicle, 1 computer system, 3 cell phones and grants for important activities like honorariums to the NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), as well as funds for post rescue care and attention of victims of trafficking.
The creation of the AHTUs are part of a programme for police training and capacity building undertaken by the UNODC in partnership with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and financially supported by the United States Government to the tune of US$2.5 million.
The programme addresses the issues of human trafficking from a human rights perspective, wherein rescue operations are followed up by counselling and de-traumatisation activities. The aims of this project are fourfold: empowering police officers and prosecutors in the project states, strengthening/setting up AHTUs, developing Standard Operating Procedures/Protocols on AHT, and improving law enforcement and civil society liaison. So far, 5 states - Goa, Maharshtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar - are covered under the two-year project, which commenced in April 2006.
Home Minister of AP, Mr . Jana Reddy releasing the Compendium of Instructions (prepared by CID AP Police) during the launch of 1st AHTU in AP.
To date, a total of 2,036 police officers and 343 prosecutors were trained under the project. The AHT programme with the police officers has brought about a paradigm shift in the attitude of the field level officers who have started treating the victim as a VOCSET (Victim of Commercial Sexual Exploitation & Trafficking).
In Andhra Pradesh, where training programmes for police officers have been underway for the longest period, the AP Police Academy has already trained 633 police officers. All the state prosecutors (total 160) have been trained. What is important to understand is that prior to this training, none of the prosecutors were exposed to any training on AHT. Also, it is the first time that the NGOs are being involved in the training of prosecutors in the state. The training to the Andhra Pradesh Police has been instrumental is boosting the capacity of the officials involved in anti-human trafficking operations.
Home Minister of AP, Mr . Jana Reddy along with UNODC offiicials and Senior Police officials of AP, who attended the Police Managers Workshop during the AHTU launch held on 22 January 2007 in Hyderabad.
In January 2007, in an outstanding example of inter-state liaison, the trained officers of the state in a joint rescue operation with the Maharashtra police rescued 29 trafficked victims (including 5 girl children) and arrested 9 traffickers from the communally sensitive Bhivandi town of Thane District. The network with the NGOs required for the operation was facilitated by the Project Coordinator of
UNODC's S16 project.
This operation follows close on the heels of the rescue of 3 VOCSETs from the Guntur District in Andhra Pradesh, and in which case the Guntur Police have arrested 8 traffickers.
Officers involved in the cases have attributed their successes to the training received from UNODC.