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Jul 26, 2018

Lok Sabha passes Trafficking of Persons Bill, 2018

The Lok Sabha has passed the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018. 

The Bill provides for the prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation of trafficked persons and seeks to establish a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau to investigate trafficking cases. 

It also provides for the setting up of Anti-Trafficking Units (ATUs) at the district level which will deal with the investigation, prevention, rescue, and protection of victims and witnesses.

Replying to a debate on the Bill, Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi said, the bill has a compassionate view and it is victim-centric. 

She said, the bill is intended to go after human traffickers and not the victims. She said, states, NGOs were consulted during drafting of the bill. Saying that the bill was long overdue, Ms Gandhi hoped that conviction rate will improve after the bill is enacted. 

She said, a lot of countries have written to India saying that it is a good bill and they will also draft their respective anti-human trafficking law based on this. She added that a rehabilitation fund with an initial corpus of 10 crore rupees will be created for the first time which will be used for the physical, psychological and social well being of the victims and also there will be designated courts in each district for speedy trial of the cases.

Ms Gandhi also assured the members in the House that the amount will increase as and when required. 

Earlier, moving the Bill, Ms Gandhi had said, the crime of trafficking is organised and the invisible and current mechanism has failed to hit the root of such crimes. Describing human trafficking as gruesome and shameful, the Minister said, the Bill has provisions which make relief and rescue of victims as a matter of their rights. 

She said, under the Bill buying and selling of human beings have been made cognizable offence for the first time and it will hit the organised manner of trafficking.

Initiating the debate, Shashi Tharoor of Congress criticised the Bill saying it has been framed by bureaucrats and victims of trafficking are the lowest priority in this legislation. He said, Bill should have had provisions for more safeguards to poor and vulnerable women. 

Mr Tharoor said, the Bill has deficiencies and it should be referred to a parliamentary standing committee for discussion. He said, the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons and UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Slavery, had said that trafficking in persons is primarily a human rights violation, but the bill over-emphasises the criminal aspect and does not give due consideration to the rights and needs of victims and their effective protection and proper rehabilitation.

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