Contributed by Pushkar Singh, North East Coordinator, UNODC
The delegates at the meeting
The need for inter stakeholder coordination and strategic joint approach to contain the crime of human trafficking was strongly emphasized, during a multi-stakeholders meeting on 26 March 2008, at UNODC office in Shillong, Meghalaya. As part of this dialogue, a film titled '
Human Trafficking' was screened in the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) auditorium.
Mr. Ranjan Chatterjee, Meghalaya Chief Secretary, released the film.
Prof. Pramod Tandon Vice Chancellor NEHU also spoke on the issues of human trafficking. A Poster and T shirt with messages on human trafficking was also released.
The meeting on stakeholders was attended by the officials and representatives of the State Police, Border Security Force (BSF), NGOs, United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and American Centre Kolkata. This meeting was chaired by Dr. Pushkar Singh, Northeast Coordinator, United Nations on Office Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Chief Secretary, Meghalaya Mr. Ranjan Chatterjee
Ms. Hasina Kharbhih, Team Leader, Impulse NGO Network (INGON), highlighted the need for the law enforcement agencies, BSF (Border Security Force), NGOs, Media and community members to work closely to address the problem of human trafficking. She stressed that it is very important to sensitize the armed forces as they have a large mandate in trafficking and HIV which is interlinked. Ms. Kharbhih also made a brief presentation on the initiatives undertaken by Impulse.
Vice Chancellor NEHU Prof. Pramod Tandon releasing the T-shirt
Ms. Anuradha Sen Mookherjee, Regional Porgramme Officer, UNIFEM, shared the programmes of UNIFEM - improving protection, support services and rights of the trafficked victims. She mentioned the need for sensitive use of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act. Ms. Mookherjee also recommended the adoption of right based gender approach by the law enforcement. The members were also informed about 'National Coalition of Media people', a programme supported by UNIFEM. In the NorthEast (NE), the programme will start from April 2008 whereby the North East media will be brought together to create sensitive news at a regular basis.
Mr. Moulik D. Barkana, Assistant Public Affairs Officer, American Centre Kolkata reiterated the support of US Government to combat trafficking. He quoted a recent study, which estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 Bangladeshi women and 5,000 to 10,000 Nepali Women are trafficked to India every year.
Dr. Pushkar Singh gave an overview of UNODC's projects on anti-human trafficking. He also made references to the
UN.GIFT South Asia conference,
Delhi Declaration and the workshop held with members from the
Garment Supply Chain. He also mentioned about the joint collaboration with the NE postal department, under which, information on human trafficking will be spread in the region.
Mr. K. S. Chauhan, DIG, BSF informed about the meeting between Bangladeshi Rifles and BSF on the issue of trafficking. He stressed on the need to find ways to cooperate with one another and take necessary steps to deal with the issue. He also pressed on the urgent requirement of creating awareness about HIV/AIDS amongst troops deployed in the border areas.
The delegates at the meeting
Mr. Chauhan further recommended the coming together of all stakeholders at border point such as forest people, customs, community elders, police and the BSF to fight for the cause of combating human trafficking.
Mr. R. Colney, DIG, OPS (Operations), BSF gave an assurance regarding BSF's support and coordination to prevent human trafficking. He further informed the participants about their sessions with respective troops. The session informs them about the culture and tradition of North-East and aims to bring about changes in their attitude and behaviour towards women folk.
Mr. M. K. Dkhar, MPS (Meghalaya Police Service) showed the willingness of his department to adopt the best ways to eradicate this crime. He suggested that the subject of trafficking should be introduced in schools particularly at the grass-root level. He further suggested that BSF, police and custom officers should be brought together to attend sensitization trainings.
Dr. Pushkar Singh, Northeast Coordinator UNODC
Mr. M. K. Singh, IPS, SP Jaintia Hills wanted more training for the constable and Station House officer level. wanted more training for the constable and Station House officer level.
Mr. B. K. Singh, Commandant of BSF highlighted the need for border men to be sensitized so that they can identify, while apprehending the girls/women at the borders, whether it is a normal movement or trafficking. He further added that the problem of external trafficking is taking place randomly as there is no fencing along the borders. He called upon the NGOs to press on this need.
Sr. Judith Shadaap, Executive Director of WISE Social Service Centre and one of the state partners of
INGON appreciated the sense of commitment from the law enforcement agencies and their concern regarding border fencing. She strongly urged the need for a shelter home and rehabilitation centre. The shelter home should have all the rehabilitation facilities and a variety of skill training to cater to the needs of the inmates who are unique in themselves.
Uniformed delegates of Border Security Force
The meeting ended with the following recommendations:
Greater involvement of media, since it plays an important role in creating community awareness.
Critical need for the law enforcement agencies, BSF, NGOs , media and community to work closely to address the problem of human trafficking.
Adoption of right based gender approach by the law enforcement agencies.
The need for educating the people at the grassroots level.
Important to sensitize the armed forces as they have a large mandate in trafficking and HIV which is interlinked.
To address the problem of lack of infrastructure, it was felt that since BSF already has infrastructure and manpower at the borders, they can support by providing material resource and help the civil society to create awareness on human trafficking. It would be good to bring the community and BSF at the borders to work together.
The subject of trafficking should be introduced in schools as well as it would mean creating awareness at the grass-root level.
Officials from the state police, BSF, customs and others should be brought together to attend trainings. on issues of trafficking because they are the people who are physically going to deal with the situation.