Friday, July 14, 2006



UNIFEM in collaboration with Legal Solutions India organized a Three Day National Level Consultation on ‘Building Positive Partnerships; Legal Professionals as Partners against Trafficking and Violence against Women and Children’, from (12th – 14th July, 2006 at The International Centre Goa. Legal Professional from all across the Country participated in the Consultation. Legal Experts including Professor Raina from the Campus Law Centre ,Delhi University, Manabendra Mandal Director ATSEC India , Ms Sarasu Esther Thomas , National Law School Bangalore , Ashok Aggarwal participated in the programme .

The three-day consultation came out with a very Strong Recommendations focusing on the crime of Human Trafficking. Also a decision was taken to form a NATIONAL LEGAL COLLOQUIUM AGAINST GENDER VIOLENCE, HIV/AIDS AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING.

The National Law Colloquium came out with a set of Action Plan recommending the following :

· To Advocate for the Creation of Special Courts to deal with matters of Human Trafficking and for In Camera Trials.
· To enforce Strict compliance of 327(2) in all Trial Courts.
· Decriminalization: to advocate for decriminalization of the Trafficked instead of Treating them on par with Traffickers and Clients.
· To advocate for separate and stringent laws for Human Trafficking and making the matter as an offence with Strict Liability.
· Punishment to violators of law to be made certain specific and severe
· Providing proper space to all Stake Holders (Police Courts, advocates, Prosecutors, Probation Officer, Counselors, NGOs and Civil Society to contribute for its eradication. This is possible by Developing partnerships and work in co-ordination)
· To lobby/advocate with the State to make mandatory rehabilitation of victims of Human Trafficking This can be achieved through NGOs working in this field.
· To come out with a Special handbook for advocates relating to laws dealing with Trafficking for quick Referral.
· To undertake Training and sensitization of the Judiciary by coordinating with the National Judicial Academy, Bhopal and the State Judicial Academies.
· Victim Compensation Laws- To undertake a comparative analysis of International Laws with Thrust on Victims of Human Trafficking and to advocate for inclusion of victim compensation in Indian Legal system
· To take effective steps to reach out to the Law Schools across the country for involving young Law Students in this movement and to advocate for inclusion of these legislations in Subjects like Criminal Law, Gender Justice etc.
· To encourage Law colleges to start Legal Clinic on women Rights and use the law students for awareness programme.
· To undertake programmes and trainings with coordination with State Legal Services Authority and also NALSA
· To undertake a documentation of of decisions of Trial Courts in Trafficking Issues.
· To compile Best Practices of Prosecution in Trafficking Cases.
· To have a Blog and a Website for exchange of Information among the Legal Fraternity and also for the use of Law Students.
The Secretariat of the National Legal Colloquium will be at the Legal Solutions Office at New Delhi .The Campus Law Centre Delhi University , Salgaocar Law College, Goa and National Law Scool Bangalore will be partner organization in this initiative.

India needs to be ruthless in its vengeance

As a child, I rarely fell asleep without listening to my grandmother narrate 'good-over-evil' stories from religious scriptures. Her dramatic story-telling ability held me enraptured as she described how gods took on the demons and crushed them. With 330 million gods to choose from and a near-perfect memory, her bank of stories was inexhaustible. At school, I learnt 'moral science,' which primarily consisted of religious tales of divine domination over wickedness.

In Health Ministry's AIIMS, AIDS no objective

In Health Ministry's AIIMS, AIDS no objective
It was probably the most high profile and meaningful meeting on the issue of Trafficking and HIV/AIDS. Organised by the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA), a statutory body headed by the Chief Justice of India, and the UNDP-TAHA project, it brought together judicial luminaries, two dozen MPs, top bureaucrats from 11 States where the UNDP-funded project is going on, and head honchos of all major voluntary organisations working in the arena of HIV/AIDS and human trafficking.
Significantly, however, one crucial component was missing. No senior representative of the nodal Government agency, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) was present. Nor were any officials from the Union Health Ministry. Apparently, they were detained in Delhi to assist their belligerent Minister, Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, exact terrible vengeance on India's highly celebrated cardiac surgeon Dr P Venugopal.
But why was NACO, the officially designated body for AIDS control, also absent? Some speculated it was the result of a turf war: NACO was unwilling to cede any space even to NALSA on AIDS-related issues. Others said they took the cue from the Health Minister's current obsession: AIDS could wait; Dr Venugopal's ouster could not.
These abstentions came in for sharp criticism from other participants. First, BJP MP Vinay Katiyar mentioned this. Thereafter Amar Singh, Samajwadi Party general-secretary took serious exception to it. And finally, Supreme Court's senior-most judge, Justice KG Balakrishnan, executive president of NALSA, roundly condemned the Ministry's and NACO's attitude.
Considering Justice Balakrishnan will soon become CJI and hold the position till 2010, the absentees may have really asked for trouble. Dr Ramadoss keeps queering his own pitch!
The two-day conference at the Leela Kempinski resort in picturesque Kovalam on Thiruvananthapuram's outskirts on July 8 and 9 threw up some new dimensions on the issue. Particularly significant was the linkage made between trafficking and HIV/AIDS. This was perhaps the first occasion that so many policy makers interacted with those implementing the policies on the ground.
Sushma Swaraj, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, made a major contribution to the discussion by virtue of her experience as Health Minister in the NDA Government. She emphatically called for enactment of a Victim Protection Protocol for trafficked women to bring them legally on par with rape victims.
Justice Nazik Bilal of the Andhra Pradesh High Court pointed to the multiplicity of Acts with regard to trafficking and asked if there were enough policemen to enforce them or enough magistrates and judges to try those cases. There was a sustained debate on the advisability of Section 5(c) of the Immorally Trafficked Persons Act (ITPA), which has replaced the erstwhile SITA. The disputed clause, many participants such as lawyer Anand Grover and former sex worker Putul Singh argued, would "criminalise" clients whereas the need was to de-criminalise the profession.
Almost all participants emphasised the relationship between trafficking and AIDS. They pressed Government agencies, particularly NACO, to broaden its horizon, not to look at AIDS as a purely medical problem that could be curbed by enhancing free distribution of condoms, but also address the social and psychological dimensions of both HIV-infected and trafficked people, especially women and children.
In many senses, the two-day interaction between MPs representing seven Parliamentary Standing Committees, the higher judiciary, Government and non-Government organisations, was an eye-opener for us. Interestingly, it also marked a serious effort by the judiciary to reach out to various agencies and acknowledge the need to sensitise magistrates and judges to the human dimension of this humungous problem. Several delegates pointed to the fact that despite lot of official efforts and deployment of resources the number of HIV-infected persons in India had gone up from one in 1986 to over 5 million in 2006.
The presence of four Standing Committee chairpersons, Ms Sushma Swaraj, Mr Amar Singh, Ms Sumitra Mahajan and EMS Natchiappan, and MPs like SS Ahluwalia, Vinay Katiyar, Anusuiya Uikey (all BJP) K Chandran Pillai, P Madhu, Sebastian Paul (CPI-M), SG Indira (TDP), DK Sharma, Silvius Condopan (Congress) and this correspondent, lent an importance to the brainstorming rarely experienced hitherto. This will undoubtedly impact the forthcoming debate on the long-awaited AIDS Bill 2005 in Parliament.
The Kovalam conference was the first foray into a wide consultative process by the judiciary. Hopefully, this will become the norm on many social issues that have a legal and legislative dimension. If the legislature, judiciary and executive engage in such dialogue along with NGOs in different specialised areas, both the framing of laws and their implementation could improve dramatically.