New Delhi, May 20, 2011
The All India Christian Council welcomes India’s decision to conform to the United Nation’s Palermo Protocols which supplement a convention against organised crime and enhances anti-human trafficking efforts. The Christian Council also welcomes a new policy adopted by the Indian Government and police to fight the challenges of slavery within Indian states and territories.
On May 13, India’s Ministry of External Affairs announced the government of India had ratified all three Palermo Protocols and two UN conventions. The UN protocol on human trafficking is linked with a convention against organised crime.
India did not ratify the Palermo Protocols for eleven years as highlighted by the U.S. Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Many campaigners were concerned that India lacked a clear and full definition of human trafficking for Indian states and territories to use in legislation and enforcement. Trafficking has not historically been regarded as an organised crime in India, so comprehensive laws relating to organised crime weren’t used in enforcement.
In 2011, the government of India launched a scheme to educate police about trafficking, and New Delhi police started established anti-human trafficking cells. On 12 January 2011, the Ministry of Home Affairs informed state police about the registration for a web-based certificate course on human trafficking offered in partnership with Indira Gandhi National Open University. Also, with United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime support, the MHA is in the midst of a two-year project of training law enforcement officers in Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh about trafficking. “The Christian Council welcomes India’s practical steps toward stopping modern-day slavery but encourages authorities to expand the programs to more vulnerable places like New Delhi, Bihar, and North East states,” said Mr. Madhu Chandra, aicc Regional Secretary and an anti-human trafficking campaigner.
The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, was adopted by the UN at Palermo, Italy, in 2000, and it supported the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/treaties/CTOC/index.html). This was signed by India in December 2002, but not ratified until May 13, 2011 (http://www.mea.gov.in/mystart.php?id=530217625). The Protocol is important since it gives a comprehensive definition of human trafficking, requires countries to criminalise slavery, and instructs governments to adopt legislation to translate the protocol’s obligations into an act.
Chandra, said, “The experts we know in child issues agree the government’s ratification of the UN protocol is good news because now anti-trafficking efforts can be made stronger through comprehensive laws and policies that protect victims and bring perpetrators – often criminal gangs – to justice. It should especially help efforts to stop bonded labour. The vast majority of victims are Dalits and we hope this helps them find freedom. The ideals of policies and laws must translate into practical realities on the ground as soon as possible.”
The All India Christian Council (www.christiancouncil.in), birthed in 1998, exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders. Several aicc member organisations partner with the Dalit Freedom Network which has chapters in several countries and is focused on making slavery history by ending Dalit trafficking in India.