Legal Awareness Programme on human trafficking

The Legal Awareness Programmes sponsored by the National Commission for Women, New Delhi were conducted on the theme of “Human Trafficking” because the Commission felt that this menace, though prevalent in the state, was either ignored by many or the general public were unaware about the nature of this heinous crime. As we began probing it was discovered that there were many un-reported cases pertaining to this. That was one of the reasons why there were only a few cases recorded in police data. On the basis of these inputs, the NSCW decided to launch state-wide Legal Awareness Programmes with the support and approval of the NCW, New Delhi.

 

Logistics:

Reaching the designated places was our main problem on account of the poor state of road connectivity throughout the state; sometimes the Commission’s team had to travel for almost one whole day to reach one venue. Despite this logistical difficulty we managed to conduct 21 camps in all the districts in the span of almost two and a half months starting from 21st March to 31st May 2017. Certain areas of Nagaland are geographically contiguous to inter-state boundaries with Manipur in the South, Arunachal Pradesh in the North & Eastern part, Assam in the West and North. The state also shares an international boundary with Myanmar in the East. As such, the venues to conduct the programmes were chosen in district headquarters and sensitive areas like international border, inter-state borders which are known to be transit points for traffickers. On arrival at every designated venue the Commission held meetings with the District Administration officers, Police and public leaders to apprise them of our mission and acquire first hand information regarding Human Trafficking in their respective areas.

 

The Programmes:

The launching of our scheduled programmes was delayed by almost two months due to serious law and order situations in the state during the early months of 2017. The first three programmes could be launched only in the later part of March. Three programmes were conducted at colleges as initially planned, namely Zisaji Presidency College, Kiphire, Sao Chang College, Tuensang and Yingli College, Longleng, but the rest of our dates conflicted with the Nagaland University examinations in the state. After consultation with the NCW, the rest of our programmes beginning from April were conducted in co-ordination with Tribal Women’s Organizations, district administration, police, public leaders and NGOs. Thereafter we undertook the strenuous journeys to the scheduled places as we wanted to complete the programmes before the monsoon season set in and complete the project within the extended time-frame permitted by NCW. The programme schedules have been incorporated in the power-point chart and a copy has also been attached to this report. The only venue we failed to reach is Bhandari in Wokha District on account of a huge landslide blocking the road.

Altogether there were 2898 registered participants in the 21 programmes we organized throughout the state, though there were quite few un-registered visitors.  The details of the programme schedules and attendance of participants as well as the names of Resource Persons for every programme are presented in the table given below.

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No.

      Date Place & Venue No. of participants          Resource Person

    (Name & Designation)

  1. 21-03-17 Kiphire

( Zisaji Presidency College)

         156 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW)

  2. 23-03-17 Tuensang

(Sao Chang College)

         311 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire(Legal Consultant, NSCW)
  3. 24-03-17 Longleng

(Yingli College)

        224 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire(Legal Consultant, NSCW)
  4. 11-04-17 Meluri (Town Hall)           85 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW

  5. 18-04-17 Noklak (Town Hall)           64 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW)

  6. 19-04-17 Tobu  (Town Hall)           80 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire (Legal Consultant, NSCW)
  7. 20-04-17 Aboi  (Town Hall)          204 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW)

  8. 21-04-17 Longwa  (Town Hall)          283 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire(Legal Consultant, NSCW)
  9. 24-04-17 Dimapur

(Science Centre)

         103 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW

 10.  

25-04-17

Peren (Town Hall)          126        Ms. Khriesinuo Kire,

(Legal Consultant, NSCW)

 11.  

28-04-17

Chiephobozou

(DBs Court)

          74 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW)

 12.  

02-05-17

Pughoboto (Town Hall)           92 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW)

 13.  

03-05-17

Zunheboto (Town Hall)         147 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW)

 14.  

05-05-17

Kohima

(De-Oriental Grand Hotel)

          79 Ms. Khriesinuo Kire

(Legal Consultant, NSCW)

 15.  

11-05-17

Dhansaripar

(Council Hall)

          69 Mrs. Esther K. Aye

(Legal Aid Counsel-cum-Trainer, NSLSA)

 16.  

16-05-17

 

Tseminyu  (Town Hall)

          66 Ms. Limasenla Longkumer (Legal Aid Counsel-cum-Trainer, NSLSA)
 17.  

17-05-17

 

Wokha  (Town Hall)

          117 Ms. Limasenla Longkumer (Legal Aid Counsel-cum-Trainer, NSLSA)
 18.  

24-05-17

 

Phek  (Town Hall)

          154 Ms. Akumla Longchari

(Legal Aid Counsel-cum-Trainer, NSLSA)

 19.  

25-05-17

 

Pungro  (Town Hall)

          158 Ms. Akumla Longchari

(Legal Aid Counsel-cum-Trainer, NSLSA)

 20.  

30-05-17

 

Mokokchung (Town Hall)

          196 Mrs. Esther K. Aye (Legal Aid Counsel-cum-Trainer, NSLSA)
 

21.

 

31-05-2017

 

Tuli (Town Hall)

          110 Mrs. Esther K. Aye(Legal Aid Counsel-cum-Trainer, NSLSA)

 

 Resource Persons

The main Resource Person for the different programmes was the Legal Consultant from Nagaland State Commission for Women. The others were lawyers from Nagaland State Legal Services Authority and Assistant Public Prosecutors from the District Courts. Other Resource Persons were also drawn from the Heads of Administrations and Police Departments, Women’s Cells of Police in the headquarters and Officers-in-Charge of the Subdivisions. Some Resource Persons from the One Stop Centre and Helpline 181 also participated in a few programmes.

The Resource Persons spoke extensibly on the many forms of human trafficking and they emphasized strongly on the de-humanizing nature of such crimes. They also explained in detail about the Provisions in the Constitution of India and Special Legislations enacted to prosecute and punish those convicted of the crimes of trafficking like the following:

  • The Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, 1956.
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006
  • Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000.
  • Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 ;( POCSO) these four acts are administered by the Ministry of Child and Women Development.
  • Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 1976
  • Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 are Ministry of Labour & Employment administered laws.
  • Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994 is monitored by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
  • The Penal sections under the IPC 1860
  • Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act 2009, (6-14 years).

Resource Persons from the Police Department explained to the audience that unless reports of trafficking were brought to their notice, they are unable to help them in apprehending the perpetrators and award justice to them. And it is because of this that their data remain incomplete. In all the districts, the administrators appreciated the efforts of the National Commission for Women, New Delhi, for creating awareness of this menace which is threatening a whole generation of Naga youth and assured us of their continued support for future programmes.

 

A Brief Account of our Findings

Our extensive tours to these locations and listening to the presentations, especially from the police officers, we gathered the following data about Human Trafficking in the state.

  • According to recent police data, in Nagaland a person goes missing every 4th 83% are below the age of 18. 13% have been reportedly trafficked. 35% are untraced.
  • The detected cases of trafficked victims fall mainly under Exploitation for Sex Trade and the other category is Forced Labour involving minors and children both within and outside the state.
  • Another form of trafficking happens in the name providing better educational opportunities away from their native homes though in most cases the children end up as Forced Labour. This happens mainly in poor families and ironically they consider the offer as an act of kindness of the receiving house-holds.

During the presentations of the police and also from the question hours it became apparent that Police data may not always reflect the wide-spread network of trafficking in the state as many cases are not reported to the police out of sheer ignorance or fear. Many victims were un-willing to testify against the traffickers because of the fear of retaliatory violence to themselves and their families from the traffickers, as well as fear of social stigma on the victim of sexual exploitation and the family if the case came to light.

In many instances, terms like ‘human trafficking’ and ‘missing persons’ are unheard-of concepts because poor parents from remote areas willingly send out their ‘minor’ children to urban towns and villages to live with affluent families who promise to ‘educate’ them in ‘good’ schools. But more often than not, the children end up as domestic help without any pay. This trend has been more prevalent in the eastern part of Nagaland where the ignorant parents do not realise that they are participating in ‘human trafficking’ of their own flesh and blood. Because of such ignorance, other professional traffickers take advantage of the general unawareness and lure teenage girls and boys with promises of employment with attractive pay and other facilities outside the state.

Some detected cases are cited below to illustrate this point.

  • According to police data 7 Naga girls were rescued from Chennai in 2011 who were lured by a Korean national with promises of attractive jobs with good pay. But they were eventually forced into prostitution.
  • 8 Naga children were rescued from Grace Home and Father’s Children Home in Jaipur on 12/03/2013. From their statements it was discovered that the children were subjected to sexual exploitation, forced labour and illegal confinement. Later it was learnt that they were taken away with the parents’ consent because they believed the Pastor’s assurance of providing good education to their children. When brought home, a couple of children initially refused to go back to their families.
  • Police in Goa rescued 6 Naga and 4 Mizo girls who were supposedly working in a beauty parlour but were involved in illicit sexual activities too.
  • The most recent success of the police has been the busting of a Human Trafficking racket in Dimapur in March 2017 when the District Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (Dimapur) rescued 2 Naga girls from a brothel in Pune. Based on their statements, 4 persons including a woman were arrested in Dimapur for their involvement in the trafficking of these victims. This further proves that Dimapur has become an important transit point for trafficking not only girls and boys from the state but also facilitating the transfer of victims from places like Nepal and other neighbouring states too.

Within the state too, there are some reported cases of human trafficking committed with the promise of better education elsewhere or lucrative employment as domestic servants in good homes.

  • There has been a regular exodus of educated girls and boys lured by the promise of work outside in institutions like airlines, call centres, factories as Security Officers and sometimes even as labourers with promises of handsome pay and as salespersons in the big malls. Many of these however end up as victims of traffickers one way or the other in the big cities.
  • Many Naga villages are on the border of Myanmar who are of the same tribe and speak a common language. For example, an agent from Nagaland procured 5 children from a village from the Myanmar side with the knowledge and consent of the parents and placed them in different households in Dimapur ostensibly to go to better schools. After some years the parents wanted to see their children and looked for the agent to enquire about them only to discover that the agent had died. But they continued the search for the children with the help of the local residents and could locate only 4 of them. The children had become different and had even forgotten their own language too. The 5th one is still ‘missing’.
  • There is also the practice whereby Nagas ‘import’ domestic help from neighbouring villages and tea gardens of Assam and make them work in homes and fields. Sometimes there are unofficial reports of atrocities inflicted on these helpless children like physical abuse, denial of food, lack of proper housing and warm clothing in winter. Many of them are not paid wages or paid only a pittance.

 

Remedial Measures undertaken by the Government

In compliance with the directives of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, it has been reported that Nagaland State Government has set up Anti-Human Trafficking Units in all the 11 district headquarters of Nagaland w.e.f. September 2010, and attached them to the Women’s Cells who double as staff of AHTU for the purpose of registration and investigating cases related to Human Trafficking. The Additional Superintendent of Police in each district has been designated as the Nodal Officer to supervise the functioning of Anti-Human Trafficking Units and supervised either by an Inspector or Sub-Inspector in the Sub-stations along the bordering areas. The establishment of these units was announced and emphasized by the police in all the programmes.

Apart from the dissemination about the legal recourses available and the AHTUs, another important message conveyed through these programmes was to inform the audiences that such criminal activities cannot be handled by our Traditional Customary Laws because crimes of such deceitful and ruinous exploitation of human lives can be dealt with only by the constitutionally appointed law-enforcing agencies.

The NSCW also impressed upon all the participants about their responsibility to carry the information and messages that they learned from the programmes and create awareness about the same through the various organizations that they belong to. This was addressed to the church leaders also because they can do a lot in helping their flocks to become aware of the menace and be pro-active in seeking all the legal help available to them.

 

Problems Faced by Police in dealing with HT cases: (Police Data) 

  • Non-reporting of cases
  • Acceptance as social aberration
  • Inability to reach out to target audiences from victim groups
  • Ignorance stemming from ambiguity about the incidents
  • Lack of net-working with relevant departments

 

And Suggestions:

  • Patient and empathetic handling of victims
  • Non-detention of victims in police custody
  • Appointment of special officers to handle such cases
  • Establishment of ‘properly functioning’ Anti-Human Trafficking Units
  • Appointment of Special Juvenile Police Units
  • Non-disclosure of names of victims to public

 

Concluding Remarks

The convoluted nature of criminal involvement embedded in Human Trafficking is such that no agency can single-handedly cope with the ramifications because there are many inter-linking factors leading to the crime. Even the application of the various stringent laws and penal codes may sometimes be thwarted by clever arguments of defending lawyers. It is where the need for co-ordination of the different agencies is most important. Departments like the Police, Judiciary, Child Rights Agencies, Labour, Social Welfare, Mental Health, Education and NGOs working in field need to create a networking system to tackle the menace in an effective way. In this effort, the role of the Church is vital in providing spiritual and moral guidance to all affected by the crime. The ‘convergence’ of all the stake-holders can be an ideal method to root out this evil before it destroys our society.

Also we would like to stress that it is important for all concerned to consider that a ‘missing’ person is invariably a potential victim of human trafficking. In order to assist the police in tracing such persons, village authorities were advised to keep a record of all those who migrate to other places to study or work voluntarily as well as those who are deemed ‘missing’ so that through the police network of communication, vital information is passed on quickly to help in searching and locating them.

Another suggestion from the NSCW is to detach Anti-Human Trafficking Units from the Women’s Cells of Police Departments in all the Districts. They should be set up as separate units under the supervision of a senior police officer. Only then they can function more effectively to curb the activities of the traffickers.

We appeal to the State Government to strengthen the relevant departments, especially the Women’s Cells and Anti-Human Trafficking Units in the Police Department with adequate manpower, better infra-structure and transport facilities. The personnel too need to be well-trained and be knowledgeable in up to-date technological methods of detection and prosecution of the perpetrators.

The most pressing need for the survivors of human trafficking, especially young girls and women is the establishment of Shelter Homes/Rehabilitation Centres. It is where they can have a sense of security and belonging in a congenial atmosphere. These Homes should be made the starting points for these unfortunate people to be able to step out and cope with the realities of the world outside.

From official records it is apparent that there are many Children’s Homes and Women’s Shelter Homes in the state. But the important question is: are they rendering the services that they are mandated to do and are the funds are being spent for the actual purpose for which these homes were set up? If not, the reasons must be sought, analyzed and prompt remedial measures must be taken before building further token structures in the name of rehabilitation of the victims.