On July 18, 2018, the Minister of Women and Child Development Ms. Maneka Gandhi introduced the “Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018” in Lok Sabha. The Bill provides for the prevention, rescue, and rehabilitation of trafficked persons.
The Bill provides:
- Establishment of a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau to investigate cases.
- Every state government will appoint a State Nodal Officer responsible for follow-up action, as per the instructions of the State Anti-Trafficking Committee.
- Setting up of Anti-Trafficking Units at the district level and the establishment of Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committees at the national, state and district levels.
Highlights of the Bill
National Anti-Trafficking Bureau:
- National Anti-Trafficking Bureau is to be set up under the Bill to investigate trafficking such cases and implement the provisions of the Bill. The Bureau will constitute of police officers, and any other officers as required.
- Functions of the Bureau-
- coordinating and monitoring surveillance along known routes,
- facilitating surveillance, enforcement and preventive steps at the source, transit and destination points,
- maintaining coordination between law enforcement agencies and non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders, and
- increasing international cooperation with authorities abroad for intelligence sharing, and mutual legal assistance.
State Anti-Trafficking Officers:
A State Nodal Officer and Police Nodal Officer at the state and district level will be appointed by the State Government under the said Bill. He will be responsible for:
- follow up action under the Bill, as per the instructions of the State Anti-Trafficking Committee, and
- providing relief and rehabilitation services.
Anti-Trafficking Units (ATUs) are to be set up at the district level to deal with the prevention, rescue, and protection of victims and witnesses, and for the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offences.
Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committee:
Anti-Trafficking Relief and Rehabilitation Committees (ATCs) will be established at the national, state, and district levels. These Committees will be responsible for:
- providing compensation to victims,
- repatriation of victims, and
- re-integration of victims in society, among others.
Search and rescue:
A person in imminent danger can be rescued by an Anti-Trafficking Police Officer or an ATU.
Protection and rehabilitation:
The Bill provides for setting up of Protection Homes by the central or state government. These Protection Homes would be responsible for providing shelter, food, counselling, and medical services to victims concerned. Further, Rehabilitation Homes will be maintained by the central or state government in each district which will provide long-term rehabilitation to the victims.
The Bill provides for setting up designated courts in each district, which will seek to complete trial within a year.
The Bill specifies the penalties for various offences including for
- trafficking of persons,
- promoting trafficking,
- disclosing the identity of the victim,
- aggravated trafficking (such as trafficking for bonded labour and begging).