By Justin Murik
The National Coalition to Eradicate Bonded Labour and Human Trafficking (NCEBLHT) has collected signatures of over 12,000 survivors of human trafficking, urging the government and all political parties to press for the passing of the Trafficking of Persons Bill 2018 in the Winter Session of Parliament.
Survivors of human trafficking and bonded labour from 14 states, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and West Bengal have contributed to the signature campaign.
According to Dr K Krishnan of the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD), who is one of the co-conveners of the Coalition, “The Trafficking of Persons Bill makes the rehabilitation of survivors a basic right, provides a time-bound procedure for rescue, repatriation and rehabilitation. The Bill makes government accountable to implement the law at district, state and national level. To support the enactment of the law, over 12,000 survivors from 14 states have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi so that human trafficking is addressed in a comprehensive manner”.
The Coalition members have been working on the issue of bonded labour and human trafficking along with the government over the past few years. The members of the coalition have also supported the government in rescuing more than 30,000 survivors from various industries across the country. The Coalition is, therefore, evolving a framework and strategy of stakeholders for a collaborative effort to tackle the menace of human trafficking and bonded labour.
Speaking further on the issue, Lenin Raghuvanshi, Founder of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) and one of the co-conveners of the Coalition said, “We can talk about awareness to end bonded labour but we also have to diagnose the problem well. The fight against bonded labour is a fight that must involve the police, magistrates, CSOs and also address systematic structures of exploitation based on caste and patriarchy. This coalition is an attempt to amplify the voice of survivors towards creating more visibility to the issue of human trafficking and bonded labour.”
In the last few years the Government has taken various initiatives and measures to eradicate the problem of human trafficking and bonded labour in the country including initiatives like establishing Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs), reporting human trafficking cases under the National Crime Records Bureau, the notification of the Central Sector Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer 2016 (CSS BLR), and the Standard Operating Procedure for Identification and Rescue of Bonded Labour.
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 seeks to make India a leader among South Asian countries in combating the menace of human trafficking. However, in addition to appeals for allocation of adequate resources for its enforcement, civil society organisations have been pushing for time-bound procedures for the rescues and safeguards for the non-liability of trafficking victims under the new law. There is also a need for trained and designated officials with the authority to take up labour trafficking cases. Civil society is also pressing for protocols and funds for the coordination of inter-state cases to strengthen the network of officials, survivors and NGOs.