India: Experts advocate stronger inter-state, transnational mechanisms to counter human trafficking

Hyderabad (India)/28 June 2019:  With the objective to strengthen and implement national strategies, plans and policies against trafficking in persons, UNODC in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India hosted a Consultation at Hyderabad, Telangana on 28 June 2019. The consultation was the last in a series of five stakeholder meetings financed by the United Kingdom to strengthen anti-trafficking coordination across India. The deliberations brought together stakeholders from Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. 

Concerns were raised on the emerging use of tech-based platforms and online media by trafficking networks, and the need to strengthen technology-driven responses and skills among first responders.

Founder of Prajwala, Dr. Sunitha Krishnan asserted the need to develop inter-state and transnational cooperation mechanisms to counter trafficking in persons. She said that "Anti-trafficking responses must be in tune with the emerging modes and methods employed by traffickers, especially in the online space. This is an area that requires adequate attention."

Highlighting the need for strengthening capacity of stakeholders, Mr. Ajit Joy, Advocate, High Court of Kerala said "Capacity building of law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges needs to be prioritized. Deficits continue to persist in prosecution of trafficking cases. This can be addressed by instituting regular and sustained trainings with cutting-edge knowledge tools to enhance responses."   

A sustained push towards building capacities of law enforcement agencies, through trainings and refresher courses, were suggested as a vital step.  Among other recommendations put forward by participants were enhanced data collection efforts, introduction of stronger laws to counter online pornography, spearheading awareness campaigns to build resilient communities, and creation of livelihood opportunities.

Reflecting on the discussion, Ms. Deepika Naruka, Programme Coordinator, UNODC Regional Office for South Asia, said, "This series of pan-India consultations have resulted in identification of various challenges related to trafficking in persons in different states. The idea was to foster collaborations and knowledge sharing between different stakeholders and advocate the need for unified action. At UNODC, we believe that organized crime required organized responses. These consultations are stepping stone towards build stronger coordination among law enforcement, civil society, media and governments to prevent and address trafficking in persons through strengthening of existing policies, action plans and strategies."

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.