Trafficking: New draft proposes national body for rescue, rehabilitation

NEW DELHI, July 31:

A pan-India communication network which will include hotlines for preventing trafficking and a national-level body that will coordinate interstate and transborder rescue activities and rehabilitation of victims are some of the new proposals in the revised Draft Trafficking Bill prepared by Women and Child Development Ministry.
The national-level agency will be called The National Bureau on Trafficking in Persons (NABTIP) and be headed by a “person of eminence and expertise in dealing with interstate crimes of trafficking in persons and has vast experience in law enforcement”, according to the copy of revised draft accessed.
NABTIP will have an independent investigative division called National Investigation Agency on Trafficking in Persons (NIATIP) with a team of investigators at the national level. This team will be headed by an officer serving in the rank of Additional Director General of Police either in a state or at the Centre.
Its function, however, will not clash with the roles of Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) already in place and nodal officers, both of whom will be responsible for investigating cases of trafficking.
According to the draft, “NIATIP will essentially be a referral agency, which will take up investigation of such crimes referred to it. NIATIP will be called upon to undertake only selected crimes of trans-border ramifications or wherever there is linkage of trafficking with three or more states. NIATIP can suo motu take over crimes having international ramifications.”
The investigating agency will also maintain a national database on trafficking, traffickers and conspirators.
It has also been proposed that a national level communication channel, including hotlines, need to be developed.
NABTIP will also have an advisory body headed by the Secretary, Women and Child Development Department, and representatives not below the level of Joint Secretary from Ministries of Home Affairs, Labour, Social Justice and Empowerment, Health, Information Technology and External Affairs.
The new draft has been prepared after the ministry received innumerable complaints about the shortcomings of its original draft bill on trafficking released in May. Some of those have now been rectified.
The title of the proposed legislation has been changed to India Trafficking in Person (Prevention) Act 2016 instead of Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill.
The new name has been derived from the existing law called Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956. This follows objections raised by NGOs which said the draft did not clearly mention whether it was a proposal for a new law or an amendment of the existing one.
There is now a proper definition of trafficking which was earlier missing. The definition derives from Section 370 of Indian Penal Code.
It states, “A person is said to commit trafficking in person if he (a) recruits,(b) transports, (c) harbours, (d) transfers,(e) receives,(f) restrains,(g) buys, (h) sells, or (i) trades a person or persons or causes or abets any of these acts, or participates in the same in any manner whatsoever for the purpose of exploitation.”
It also keeps the role of AHTU intact instead of creating a parallel system under an all new District Anti-Trafficking Committee as mentioned in the draft made public in May.
Changes have also been made to state that rehabilitation will take place under the Juvenile Justice Act, which has robust mechanisms for providing shelter to victims rescued. The reference to JJ Act, 2015 was missing earlier.
There are also several new propositions. The proposed legislation now has an additional criteria of “aggravated trafficking” with stricter punishment for offences under 17 different categories including trafficking of children, transgenders, exposing the victim to HIV/AIDS or where the offence results in pregnancy.
Under Section 36 there is a proposal for compensation for victims. There are also rules for protection of witnesses and victims. (PTI)