India: "Technology is enabling trafficking in persons in rural areas," experts reveal


Guwahati (India)/16 May 2019: At the recent multi-stakeholder consultation on "Countering trafficking in persons" held in Guwahati, experts from governments, law enforcement agencies and civil society from ten Indian states expressed concern over the increasing use of tech-based platforms by human traffickers in rural areas.

Convened in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the consultation was the third in a series of five stakeholder meetings planned by UNODC to strengthen anti-trafficking coordination across India.

It brought together stakeholders from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Sikkim, Tripura and West Bengal. Most of these states share international borders with other countries-- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and China-making them vulnerable to cross-border trafficking in persons.

Participants exchanged ideas to counter the facilitation of trafficking in persons in the region through tech-based platforms such as Facebook, Whatsapp and other social media. They underscored the lack of uniform capacities among stakeholders, which impede identification and support to victims within a reasonable time, and they emphasized the need to strengthen existing institutions, develop inter-state standard operating procedures for law enforcement as well as create awareness around this emerging issue  Going forward, the conclusions of this consultation will inform the design of targeted actions against trafficking by UNODC and the Ministry of Home Affairs

Chairperson of Nedan Foundation, Mr. Digambar Narzary, appreciated UNODC's role in bringing stakeholders together. "Such consultations provide the opportunity to stay connected and committed to counter trafficking in persons. The discussions were informative and excellent, and will help in fostering joint responses and strategies," he said.

Chairperson of Impulse NGO Network, Ms. Hasina Kharbhih, said, "Northeast India has become the source, destination and transit point for trafficking in persons. This consultation was helpful in addressing the gaps and challenges observed by all stakeholders and bringing them at one platform."

Aimed at strengthening responses to tackling trafficking in persons as evidenced by better identification of victims and initiation of investigations, this project also contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. 

This activity was held in the framework of the UNODC project on "Strengthening the implementation of a comprehensive response to trafficking in persons."

The project is implemented by UNODC Regional Office for South Asia as part of the Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons, with the financial support of the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund of the Government of United Kingdom.