Pushing for collective action, UNODC South Asia unveils landmark "Trafficking in Persons" platform


New Delhi/August 02, 2017: Calling for collective action to protect and assist victims of human trafficking, UNODC South Asia unveiled the landmark "Trafficking in Persons" (TIP) platform in New Delhi at a special program hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India to mark the World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

The event bought together a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including representatives of the governments of India, Bangladesh and Nepal, international organizations, civil society, academia and mass media. All the speakers emphasised that trafficking in persons posed a serious threat to human rights and development, and was a grave global social challenge.

It was pointed out that more than 21 million people are victims of forced labour worldwide today, and human trafficking generates $150 billion in profit every year. Nearly 79% of all detected trafficking victims are women and children. Trafficking for sexual exploitation and for forced labour remain the most prominently detected forms.

In this backdrop, UNODC South Asia and UN Women Multi-Country Office for India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives signed the TIP Platform agreement. The Platform, which can be accessed by any organization involved in combatting TIP, is envisaged as a common policy forum for dialogue, discussions, and advocacy to devise, enforce and strengthen effective measures to combat and eliminate all forms of trafficking in persons and to protect victims.

The Platform seeks to develop a mechanism to help create synergies between partner entities, facilitate exchange of information and good practices and encourage joint responses and actions to address the issue. UNODC South Asia will serve as the repository and the secretariat for the TIP Platform.

Unveiling the initiative, Mr. Sergey Kapinos, Representative, UNODC South Asia said, "UNODC's latest Global Trafficking in Persons report identifies more than 500 different flows of trafficking, and children make up for almost 1/3 rd of all victims worldwide. There is a need to act now to collectively address this issue. The aim of the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) platform is to promote strong alliances between governments, civil society, security forces, academia and media to fight human trafficking. We can all benefit by strengthening regional mechanisms of sharing knowledge, information, intelligence and good practices. UNODC is committed to addressing human trafficking through the 4 Ps: Prosecution, protection, prevention and partnerships. By working together we can give victims of trafficking a voice and help them regain dignity and freedom."

In an engaging presentation, Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament, India, underscored, "I am pleased to know that UNODC South Asia has decided to create a unique Trafficking in Persons Platform. From the perspective of law enforcement and rehabilitation, this platform is a landmark initiative that will help create synergies between partners. I support this initiative and look forward to seeing it in action soon. Human trafficking can end if every country decides to collaborate in the spirit of shared responsibility." Ms. Rebecca Tavares, Representative, UN Women Multi-Country Office for India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives and Ms. Yasmin Ali Haque, Representative, UNICEF India also joined the other participants in endorsing the TIP Platform, stressing on the need for concerted efforts to curb the crime.

Mr. Yuri Afasaniev, UN Resident Coordinator in India, said, "In terms of SDGs, I would like to remind that the framework calls for very specific targets. For instance, SDG5, SDG8, SDG 16 call for an end to trafficking and violence against women and children. Identifying victims is priority number one and it is good to see that governments of India, Nepal and Bangladesh are working together to combat this crisis. India has been very proactive in its response to trafficking." 

The Government representatives of India, Bangladesh and Nepal reflected on the issue and their national responses to trafficking. Mr. SK Gupta, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, said, "MHA is committed to combat human trafficking with all its might. In 2006, MHA had setup an anti-trafficking nodal cell. At the international level, India has also ratified the Convention on Transnational Organised Crime and the human trafficking protocol. We look forward to receiving a Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) from UNODC to address human trafficking at the borders. The Ministry extends its support to UNODC and other stakeholders to address human trafficking."  Dr. AP Maheshwari, Additional Director General, Border Security Force, India shared his insights on the security and law enforcement dimension of trafficking, and emphasised the need for greater collaboration between security agencies of South Asian countries to protect the victims.

Mr. Kedar Neupane, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of Nepal, said, "The Government of Nepal is analysing that the growth of Nepal is not just a source country for TIP, but also a transit and destination for trafficking. One of the new developments in the field of anti-trafficking is that we have upgraded the police and women and child centres. Nepal is also moving to ratify the UN Trafficking in Persons Protocol, and we request the support of UNODC in this regard." Brig. Gen. Md. Mahfuzur Rhman, Additional Director General, Border Guard Bangladesh, said, "The key challenges to human trafficking in Bangladesh are the long and porous borders, increasing business links (formal and informal), unintegrated approach, language barrier and time taken for identification, verification, coordination and execution. We need greater collaboration and assistance to rehabilitate and rescue victims of trafficking."

UNODC South Asia assists Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka to develop comprehensive and sustainable responses to trafficking in persons. Such responses include prosecution of perpetrators, protection and assistance of victims and, most importantly, prevention measures. UNODC South Asia reiterates the need for all countries to stand and act together against human trafficking in the spirit of shared responsibility, with the message: "Act now to end human trafficking and violence against women and children."