India making progress to eliminate trafficking, says US report

WASHINGTON: India made significant efforts towards the elimination of human trafficking in 2019, but did not fully meet the minimum standards, according to a US report.
As such India remained on Tier 2 of the Congressional-mandated 2020 Trafficking in Persons report of the state department. Pakistan has been downgraded to the Tier 2 watch list because the government did not make overall increasing efforts, the report said. China, on the other hand, has remained on the lowest Tier 3 as it made no significant efforts to eliminate trafficking, according to the report released by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the presence of US President Donald Trump’s daughter and top White House advisor Ivanka Trump.
“The Communist Party of China (CPC) and its state-owned enterprises often force citizens to work in horrendous conditions on Belt and Road projects,” Pompeo told reporters while releasing the report on Thursday.
“India does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore India remained on Tier 2,” the report said.
These efforts included convicting traffickers and completing a high-profile investigation into a case that involved officials complicit in trafficking at a government-funded shelter home in Bihar, convicting 19 individuals in the case, including three state officials; an influential former legislator was among the 12 that received life sentences, it said.
According to the report, the government also filed First Information Reports (FIRs) against other government funded shelter homes in Bihar that allegedly abused residents, including trafficking victims. For the first time, the Madras High Court reversed an acquittal in a bonded labour case.
The central government added investigation of inter-state and transnational trafficking cases to the mandate of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which began investigating inter-state trafficking. The government continued to work on its draft anti-trafficking bill and committed to devoting funding to expand its police anti-human trafficking units (AHTUs) to all 732 districts, it said. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not make serious or sustained efforts to address its consistently large trafficking problem.
Overall anti-trafficking efforts, especially against bonded labour, remained inadequate, the report said. (PTI)

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