Hyderabad (India): Experts from state governments, law enforcement agencies, civil society and media from eight south Indian states underscored the need for greater government support to multi-stakeholder mechanisms and responses aimed at countering trafficking in persons, at a recent consultation hosted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Hyderabad.
Convened in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, 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. In the meeting, participants exchanged insights on state-specific issues, including the latest trends and patterns of trafficking, good practices, responses and mechanisms to prevent and counter trafficking at the state level, and the key challenges and opportunities within states.
In an engaging presentation, Dr PM Nair, Chair Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, shared his perspectives on the linkages between development and trafficking in persons, while calling for a nationally coordinated approach to facilitate linkages between stakeholder groups and unifying responses. 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, Ms Sunita Krishnan shared emerging trends and good practices to counter trafficking in persons and advocated the need for evidence-based responses to foster holistic victim protection mechanisms. “It’s imperative to develop inter-state and transnational cooperation mechanisms. Anti-trafficking responses must be in tune with the emerging modes and methods employed by traffickers, especially in the online space,” she asserted.
A sustained push towards building capacities of law enforcement agencies, through Standard Operating Procedures training and refresher courses, were suggested as a vital step. Among other recommendations put forward by participants were: enhanced data collection efforts, the introduction of stronger laws to counter online pornography, spearheading awareness campaigns to build resilient communities, and the creation of livelihood opportunities. “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,” said Ajit Joy, Advocate, High Court of Kerala.
Ms Deepika Naruka, Programme Coordinator, UNODC Regional Office for South Asia, said, “The idea of this series of consultations 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.”
This activity was held in the framework of the UNODC project on “Strengthening the implementation of a comprehensive response to trafficking in persons in India and Sri Lanka”, implemented as part of the UNODC Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons, jointly with the UNODC Regional Office for South Asia and with the financial support of the United Kingdom.