UPSC Mains General Studies Paper I
Social empowerment and women related issues
Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018
Why is the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 in news?
- The Lok Sabha has passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018.
- The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 provides for the prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation of trafficked persons.
What are the Key features of Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018
- National Anti-Trafficking Bureau: The Bill provides for the establishment of a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau to investigate trafficking cases and implement provisions of the Bill. It may take over the investigation of any offence under the Bill, that has been referred to it by two or more states. Further, the Bureau may: (i) request the state government to co-operate in the investigation, or (ii) transfer the case to the state government for investigation and trial, with approval from the central government.
- Functions of the Bureau: Key functions of the Bureau include: (i) coordinating and monitoring surveillance along known routes, (ii) facilitating surveillance, enforcement and preventive steps at source, transit and destination points, (iii) maintaining coordination between law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders, and (iv) increasing international cooperation with authorities abroad for intelligence sharing, and mutual legal assistance.
- State Anti-Trafficking Officers: Under the Bill, the state government will appoint a State Nodal Officer. He will be responsible for: (i) follow up action under the Bill, as per the instructions of the State Anti-Trafficking Committee, and (ii) providing relief and rehabilitation services. The state government will also appoint a Police Nodal Officer at the state and district levels. The state government will also designate Anti-Trafficking Police Officers for each district, to deal with all matters related to trafficking in the district.
- Anti-Trafficking Units: The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 also provides for the setting up of Anti-Trafficking Units (ATUs) at the district level. ATUs will deal with the prevention, rescue, and protection of victims and witnesses, and for the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offences. In districts where an ATU is not functional, this responsibility will be taken up by the local police station.
- Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committee: The Bill provides for the establishment of Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committees (ATCs) at the national, state, and district levels. These Committees will be responsible for: (i) providing compensation to victims, (ii) repatriation of victims, and (iii) re-integration of victims in society, among others.
- Search and rescue: An Anti-Trafficking Police Officer or an ATU can rescue persons, if there is an imminent danger to them. They will be produced before a Magistrate or Child Welfare Committee for medical examination. The district ATC will provide relief and rehabilitation services to the rescued persons.
- Protection and rehabilitation: The Bill requires the central or state government to set up Protection Homes. These would provide shelter, food, counselling, and medical services to victims. Further, the central or state government will maintain Rehabilitation Homes in each district, to provide long-term rehabilitation to the victims. Rehabilitation of victims will not be dependent on criminal proceedings being initiated against the accused, or the outcome of the proceedings. The central government will also create a Rehabilitation Fund, which will be used to set up these Protection and Rehabilitation Homes.
- Time-bound trial: The Bill provides for setting up designated courts in each district, which will seek to complete trial within an year.
- Penalties: The Bill specifies the penalties for various offences including for (i) trafficking of persons, (ii) promoting trafficking, (iii) disclosing the identity of the victim, and (iv) aggravated trafficking (such as trafficking for bonded labour and begging).
Why is there a Need for anti- trafficking legislation:
- As per government data, More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017.
- Around 100,000 are yet to be traced and it is feared that many of them could have been trafficked.
- Many of these children are victims of modern slavery — forced into prostitution, labour or domestic work.
- They are also used as drug mules and even given up for adoption illegally.
- Poverty and lack of opportunity also pushes a lot of young women, especially from the interior parts of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Jharkhand, into prostitution.
- Despite the enormity of the problem, India lacks a single comprehensive law for human trafficking. At present, trafficking is covered under half-a-dozen laws resulting in confusion and poor enforcement.