U.N. General Assembly POSITION PAPER ______________________________________________
Topic: Ending Forced Labor Sponsor (country delegation): India
India is a Socialist Secular Democratic Republic. The population of India is roughly 1.4 billion people, of that population approximately 80% practice Hinduism. Hinduism and the low case system plays a huge role in why human trafficking is so prevalent in India. In fact, the U.S. State Department ranked India as a Tier 2 violator of human trafficking. The government of India does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, it is making some efforts to do so. Forced labor is India’s largest trafficking problem often seen as men, women and children being in debt bondage. Sometimes these debts are inherited from previous generations and the people are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, embroidery factories, and in agriculture.
In 1976, India passed the Bonded Labor Act, which prohibits slave labor or human trafficking. But, the penalties they accessed are not stringent enough. With some serving up to only 3-5 years in jail, and or a fine. In addition to having inefficient penalties, they also appear to have a low conviction rate. According to the National Crimes Record Bureau, in 2016 police investigated 5,217 trafficking cases and only 587 of those cases were prosecuted. Of the 587 cases that were prosecuted, 72% were acquitted. It is not logical that India is a Tier 2 violator of human trafficking and have an acquittal rate of 72%. In addition to not having stringent penalties for human trafficking, it appears they either do not take litigating these offenses seriously or they lack what is necessary to convict offenders of human trafficking once they have them in the courtroom.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development gave $13.1 million so the Ministry of Home Affairs could construct 270 Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU), but only 264 were established. Non Government Organizations (NGO) noted that the AHTUs, were not always effective. In part, because they either did not understand what they were suppose to do or because they were not fully committed to ending human trafficking.
Sadly, they even discovered that some government officials were involved in human trafficking themselves and some corrupt enforcement officers even protected suspected traffickers from law enforcement actions. According to the 2016 Crime in India Report, 4,764 officials were charged, 1,071 officials were convicted, and 1,947 officials were acquitted.
In conclusion, my recommendation to the General Assembly on how to address the problem India faces with human trafficking is a multi-faceted one. We must first address this horrific issue from the perspective of educating the communities who are vulnerable to human traffickers on how to detect their schemes. Second, we must address human trafficking from the perspective of educating and equipping the AHTUs, and coming alongside the inundated court system to garner a higher conviction rate of violators of human trafficking. Lastly, we must address the issue from the perspective of India’s economics. A livable minimum wage must be instituted, along with a responsible social security program, that’s not 100% based on the oldest male child securing the parents. This antiquated system of social welfare is one more reason why people have made themselves vulnerable to being
(R. Pope, Attorney and Board Member of Justice Ventures International, personal communication, March 20, 2019)
“U.S. State Department.” Trafficking In Persons Report, June 2018, https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/282798.pdf
“Justice Ventures International.” Largest Bonded Labor Rescue To Date, Generations Freed , January 19, 2019, https://justiceventures.org/2019/01/23/largest-bonded-rescue-to-date-generations-freed/