A lot needs to be done and several amendments need to be made. We are just quoting a few of the issues which have been highlighted.
A comprehensive law against trafficking must be inclusive of all forms of trafficking right from forced and bonded labour, sex trafficking to begging and servitude. Currently, there is the multiplicity of laws, which deals with different forms of trafficking under the different laws in silos. Some laws define and penalize only one part of human trafficking, punishment to traffickers is weakened by fragmented prosecution of these organized crimes under different laws, and it has been observed that the multiplicity of laws is indeed weakening the implementation of these laws on the ground.
Punishment to the Perpetrators
Almost all survivors have faced discrimination, stigma and the plain refusal of services from duty bearers who are responsible for providing services of justice and rehabilitation. The present laws don’t give them any avenues of holding officers accountable – if one tries to lodge complaints, they are often subjected to the anger and wrath of the officer. To ensure a strong case the police must use all the provisions of the Indian Penal Code namely 370, 372, 373 to ensure that the trafficker and the buyer get indicted.
The quality of investigations and the rate of convictions in cases of human trafficking too is a testimony to the fact that the law enforcement needs to be sensitized, trained and be held accountable by the survivors if they fail to discharge their basic duties honestly. The bill needs to fix accountability of informing the victims that they are entitled to seek compensation. Trafficking should be a non-bailable offence and the perpetrators must be sentenced to a minimum of a life sentence. With better conviction rates and harsher punishments, they believe it would at least have some deterrence effect.
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Victim compensation for trafficked survivors should not be conditional upon rescue. The elaborate paperwork needed for the compensation adds to the humiliation and trauma, which survivors are often made to recount. Currently, facilitating meaningful access to compensation often falls to non- governmental actors. Survivors usually have little knowledge of the legal system and struggle to navigate the complex and often bureaucratic government processes necessary to receive the compensation to which they are entitled. Often, they come to know about the compensation schemes years after their rehabilitation. Since compensation is age-specific (children below 14 years can claim more), age proof becomes imperative. However, most of the survivors do not have any documents with them. They do not even have FIR copies. When trafficking happens inter-state, coordination between different state authorities becomes another problem.
The survivors must be given interim relief compensation within 15 days. Post that they should be given the stipulated compensation, irrespective of conviction, in full, to enable them to make essential investments. They also believe that the government should make provisions for the survivors getting government jobs.
(With inputs from ILFAT survivor leaders)
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