Monday, January 22, 2007

India Assesment Report Relaesed By US State Department on Human Trafficking

India

The Government of India has made some progress in combating its significant problem of trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In September 2006, the central government responded to the need for a central anti-trafficking law enforcement effort by creating a two-person federal "nodal cell," responsible for collecting and analyzing data of state-level law enforcement efforts, identifying problem areas and analyzing the circumstances creating these areas, monitoring action taken by State governments for combating trafficking in these areas, and organizing coordination meetings with the nodal police officers of the states responsible for trafficking in persons crimes. However, the government still needs to go further in designating and empowering a national agency or office specifically tasked with carrying out an effective law enforcement response to trafficking crimes committed throughout India. The Government has provided significant in-kind contributions to a USG-funded United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) two-year program in Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh, focused on raising the awareness of police and prosecutors on the problem of trafficking and to build the capacity of these police and prosecutors to investigate and prosecute persons involved with trafficking. Law enforcement activity to combat trafficking in persons remains confined to the state-level and continues to be relatively low in comparison to the estimated extent of the situation. However, in June, two former state ministers in Jammu and Kashmir were arrested for trafficking in minor girls for commercial sexual exploitation, along with other senior government officials. Two traffickers in Delhi were also convicted and sentenced to three and seven years in prison, and another was arrested in August.

In November 2006, the Parliamentary Committee returned the amendments to the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act to the Ministry of Women and Child Development for revision. The Committee asked the Ministry to clarify language, provide a clearer delineation between criminals and victims, prioritize programs and resources for expanded rehabilitation and reintegration efforts, and recommended passage of the bill with those changes.

Despite estimates of a significant debt bondage situation in the country, the Government of India reports no arrests, prosecutions, or convictions of employers using bonded labor. India similarly did not provide evidence of any rescues of victims of bonded labor. India did, however, make moderate progress on addressing child labor; between September and November, Delhi police rescued 140 children working in "zari" factories and rice mills, but it is unclear how these children have been rehabilitated. In October, the government also enacted a ban on the employment of children in domestic work or the hospitality industry with penalties including 3 months to 2 years incarceration and the possibility of fines.

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