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Anti Human Trafficking Interventions: Role of Law Enforcement
Role of Law Enforcement and Judiciary in Anti Human Trafficking Interventions
It is a recognized fact that the Trafficking in Person cannot be solved in isolation and its needs a multi pronged approach from all the stake holders and the challenge of combating human trafficking can never be taken up single handedly. Containing the crime of trafficking not only involves effective collective interventions but would also require a synergy between all the actions of all the stakeholders. This includes synergy with the Law Enforcement Agencies and the Judiciary which would help in countering the challenge of Trafficking in Persons.
Role of Judiciary
A pro-active role was played by the Judiciary in the early nineties when the Hon'ble Supreme Court while dealing with prominent Public Interest Litigations like
Vishal Jeet v. Union of India and the 1997 case of
Gaurav Jain v. Union of India gave some landmark judgments.
Pursuant to this amongst other directions, a Central Advisory Committee on Child Prostitution was constituted. Subsequently State Advisory Committees were also setup by the respective State Governments. This led to the constitution of Committees on Prostitution, Child Prostitutes and Children of Prostitutes to look into the problems of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children and of children of trafficked victims so as to evolve suitable schemes in consonance with the directions given by the Supreme Court.
These land mark cases and subsequent cases influenced various Government policies, programmes and schemes, as well as law enforcement.
Law Enforcement Agency
The Law Enforcement Agency plays a very important role not only at the time of rescue operation but also at the level of Prevention of Trafficking. Police through its curative action of rescue operation plays a vital role in preventing trafficking in persons as it has a deterrent effect on the perpetrators. However this action of the law enforcement agency needs to be more proactive, right based and should involve various stake holders like NGOs and other service providers. It is important that law enforcement officers are trained to be more sensitive to the need of the rescued person. There also needs to be greater vigil in locations prone to trafficking, law enforcement agencies should work in partnership with local communities / NGOs to monitor the movements-of strangers in the villages, look out for suspicious movement of women and children at places such as, highways, dhabas, railway stations, bus stations and other transit points including the border areas.
The role of law enforcement is central to both prevention and prosecution. While many positive steps have been taken by law enforcement agencies, there are still certain issues on which additional action is needed. A few of those key areas where more focused intervention is need are s below-
Prioritize victim-centred approaches: Victim-centered approach and victim-friendly procedures and practices should be followed in law enforcement responses to anti-human trafficking.
Increase sensitization programs: The uneven level of sensitivity among the various stakeholders requires sensitization programs and capacity-building activities for all stakeholders involved in anti-human trafficking responses.
Improve accountability: There is a need for an accountability mechanism where in specific measurable and quantifiable parameters with regards prosecution, prevention and rehabilitation are adopted by all law enforcement agencies.
Share best practice: Best practices from the region should be documented and shared with stakeholders in the region.
This background note has been prepared with inputs from Dr. Roma Debabrata, Director STOP, an NGO actively involved in anti human trafficking interventions.