Kathmandu, Sept. 12: Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Harishchandra Ghimire said the problem of trafficking in course of foreign employment can be controlled if the government officers involved work effectively.
Speaking at an interaction programme organised on the occasion of 15th National Anti-Trafficking Day on Friday, Joint-Secretary Ghimire highlighted the need to bring the aider of the offence of trafficking under the ambit of law.
“The main reason behind trafficking and unsafe migration is lack of awareness among the people who seek foreign employment via illegal route. Thus, it is important for concerned stakeholders to emphasize on raising the awareness,” said Ghimire.
The participants also discussed the issues related to trafficking in/from Nepal, including legislation and policies on trafficking, which is marred by criminal approach.
The discussion also focused on the proposed Trafficking in Persons Bill (TIP Bill), 2021 of India.
Binita Pandey, advocate, said migration and trafficking could be confusing topics. Because of its connection, many people working on anti-trafficking campaigns have been concerned with larger migration issues for a long time.
While the connection exists in practice and some advocates have been working at this intersection, migration and trafficking are often kept separate – as separate concepts, as separate policies, and as separate social movements. Still, there is a thin veil between these two phenomena.
“A punitive approach often leads to the confusion of trafficking with migration and of trafficking for sex work. However, it is pertinent to recognise migration as an important livelihood strategy that occurs in varied work sectors, including construction, domestic work, textiles and garment industries and such,” said Pandey.
Pandey also stated that since legislation and policies related to trafficking in Nepal and TIP bill of India are based on a criminal approach with little attention paid to human rights dimension, the government and the stakeholders need to make a discussion on this issue, particularly considering the COVID-19 pandemic, which in Nepal and India has shown cases of increase in trafficking in person.
Anjana Shrestha, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Anti-Human Trafficking Bureau, said that not only females but males are also victim of unsafe migration.
“In the course of travelling via illegal route for foreign employment, the agents compel both men and females to stay on hold in India for a long time in the belief that they will be travelling via India to the destination country because of which they have to face much difficulties,” said Shrestha.
In such a situation, Shrestha stated that proposed TIP bill may help in rescuing the migrants who are going to foreign countries via illegal routes, but it also has a huge potential of stigmatising the people who are not the victim of trafficking but are using the route via India to travel to their destination countries for foreign employment.
Drawing attention to the proposed TIP bill of India, Benu Maya Gurung, Executive Director of Alliance Against Trafficking In Women and Children in Nepal (AATWIN), said that since India and Nepal share the open border, and India is both the destination and the transit country for foreign migration the proposed bill may have a lot of implication in our country as well.
“Thus, it is important to discuss the said bill is not only limiting to the stakeholders in Nepal but also with the Stakeholders in India. And most importantly, it is crucial to bridge the gaps and harmonize the national laws with the International Instruments related to trafficking,” said Gurung.
Richard Howard, Country Director, ILO Office, Nepal focused on how Nepal government’s restrictive policies on female migration have forced and compelled women to travel to countries of destination through informal channel.
Thus, Howard stated that the restriction on female migration has created greater vulnerabilities for women, who have faced increased exploitation and trafficking since they are compelled to travel to those countries through informal channels.
Published on: 12 September 2021 | The Rising Nepal