FAQ

The action or practice of illegally transporting people from one country or area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation.
Trafficking in Persons as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
On the basis of the definition given in the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, it is evident that trafficking in persons has three constituent elements.
The Act (What is done)
Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons
The Means (How it is done)
Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim
The Purpose (Why it is done)
For the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.
Trafficking in Persons, sexual exploitation was noted as by far the most commonly identified form of human trafficking (79%) followed by forced labour (18%). This may be the result of statistical bias. By and large, the exploitation of women tends to be visible, in city centres or along highways. Because it is more frequently reported, sexual exploitation has become the most documented type of trafficking, in aggregate statistics. In comparison, other forms of exploitation are under-reported: forced or bonded labour; domestic servitude and forced marriage; organ removal; and the exploitation of children in begging, the sex trade and warfare.
Victims of trafficking can be any age and any gender. However, a disproportionate number of women are involved in human trafficking both as victims and as culprits. Female offenders have a prominent role in human trafficking, particularly where former victims become perpetrators as a means of escaping their victimisation. Most trafficking is carried out by people whose nationality is the same as that of their victim.

Trafficking is almost always a form of organized crime and should be dealt with using criminal powers to investigate and prosecute offenders for trafficking and any other criminal activities in which they engage. Trafficked persons should also be seen as victims of crime. Support and protection of victims is a humanitarian objective and an important means of ensuring that victims are willing and able to assist in criminal cases.

As with other forms of organized crime, trafficking has globalized. Groups formerly active in specific routes or regions have expanded the geographical scope of their activities to explore new markets. Some have merged or formed cooperative relationships, expanding their geographical reach and range of criminal activities. Trafficking victims have become another commodity in a larger realm of criminal commerce involving other commodities, such as narcotic drugs and firearms or weapons and money laundering, that generate illicit revenues or seek to reduce risks for traffickers.

The relatively low risks of trafficking and substantial potential profits have, in some cases, induced criminals to become involved as an alternative to other, riskier criminal pursuits. With the adoption of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime in November 2000, countries have begun to develop the necessary criminal offences and enforcement powers to investigate, prosecute and punish traffickers and to confiscate their profits, but expertise and resources will be needed to make the new measures fully effective.

Risks are further reduced by the extent to which victims are intimidated by traffickers, both in destination countries, where they fear deportation or prosecution for offences such as prostitution or illegal immigration, and in their countries of origin, where they are often vulnerable to retaliation or re-victimization if they cooperate with criminal justice authorities. The support and protection of victims is a critical element in the fight against trafficking to increase their willingness to cooperate with authorities and as a necessary means of rehabilitation.

Most trafficked forced labour affects people working at the margins of the formal economy, with irregular employment or migration status. The sectors most frequently documented are agriculture or horticulture, construction, garments and textiles under sweatshop conditions, catering and restaurants, domestic work, entertainment and the sex industry.

Human trafficking also affects other quite mainstream economic sectors, including food processing, healthcare, and contract cleaning, mainly in private but also in public sector employment, such as the provision of healthcare services.

A number of points can be made:
• It is important that every effort is undertaken to establish the gravity of the problem and tackle the issue from the source to destination. What numbers are available to show the problem has not abated and is not likely to. One of the challenges relates to the gathering of accurate information in order that a true picture of the phenomenon can be gauged. In this respect, some progress has been made but more needs to be done.
• From UNODC's work across the criminal justice sector, we are fully aware that human trafficking is often only one activity of extensive and highly sophisticated international crime networks.
• We need to ensure that, despite the many conflicting priorities faced by member states that the issue of countering human trafficking is clearly given a high priority and focus by the international community.
• We need to consider the type of action that can be taken to raise awareness of the problem and take steps to prevent trafficking at source (reference to UNODC public service announcements).
• A major challenge is to ensure that action is taken to ratify and effectively implement the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.
• Improving international cooperation and coordination, particularly in relation to developing information exchange and operational cooperation between law enforcement agencies needs to be strengthened.
• There is a need to take a more holistic and partnership approach to tackling the problem. In this respect, UNODC fully recognizes the importance of mobilizing the support of NGOs, IGOs, governments and the community at large.

Human trafficking in India has reached a crisis level. A prominent headline in The Hindu last week declared ”An unsavory fact: India tops global slavery index.” A U.S. State Department report estimates that up to 65 million people were trafficked into forced labor, both into and within India. More recently, research reveals that India has the highest number of people trapped in modern slavery, with over 18 million people enslaved. This is five times more than any other country in the world. Meanwhile, according to Indian government data, there were just 5,500 cases of human trafficking reported in India in 2014. This clearly reveals that, despite efforts by the government and civil society groups to gather data on trafficking, there is still no conclusive data available, either official or unofficial, that accurately captures and documents the extent to which human trafficking takes place in the region.

India’s minister for women and children announced a draft of the first-ever comprehensive anti-human trafficking law. The draft ”Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2016” has been generally well received by practitioners and civil society working for decades on this issue. Prior to this draft, India’s legal framework for addressing trafficking consisted of a myriad of various statutory laws and provisions applied in tandem, leaving a legal vacuum when it came to the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offences. This draft law is comprehensive and addresses the core issue, aiming to strengthen investigation and prosecution, while also taking into account a victim’s needs and perspective, which are steps in the right direction.

Broadly, the draft law aims to address trafficking through prevention, protection, and rehabilitation of victims. It calls for the creation of anti-trafficking committees at the district, state, and central levels to oversee implementation of the law’s provisions. The draft also proposes the creation of a special agency to investigate these crimes, and special courts and public prosecutors to expedite prosecution and hold perpetrators and traffickers accountable under the law. Civil society groups are hopeful that this new law would boost the number of prosecutions and convictions, and also promote inter-agency coordination at the state and district levels.

Focusing on the needs of the victim, the draft proposes harsher penalties for aggravated offences such as administering drugs and alcohol to victims, and also seeks to punish those who reveal a victim’s identity. Considering the number of questionable placement agencies that often recruit or supply trafficked victims for labour purposes, the law calls for stringent fines if these agencies do not register themselves with the state government. There is also a provision that allows victims who were not paid wages during their time in servitude to recover back-pay and fines. It also proposes the creation of a rehabilitation fund to assist victims to reintegrate into society and make a life for themselves in the future.

While the draft law does fill the existing legal vacuum and could benefit trafficking victims greatly, many of the sections and provisions need further elaboration. For example, the fast-track courts that were set up after the December 2012 gang rape of a student in Delhi have not been operating as effectively as needed. The lack of judicial manpower and infrastructure will only mean that an existing court will officiate as the anti-trafficking special court. Further, while the bill calls on the central government to set up a special agency to investigate trafficking offences, the draft does not lay out how this agency will coordinate with the state police departments, and how its role differs from existing policing and security agencies. Practitioners have also expressed concern that the Anti-Trafficking Fund to ensure the welfare and rehabilitation of victims may have the same fate as the Nirbhaya Fund, launched in 2013 to improve women’s safety, but is largely under-utilized.

It is entirely possible, however, that much of the above will be settled as the central and state governments conceptualize rules to carry out the provisions of this proposed law, which will take place at a later stage once the law comes into force. At the moment, it is still premature to gauge the overall effect of the draft bill on the crisis that India and the region is facing. There is a chance that the draft bill will be introduced in parliament by the end of this year. If it passes, then the next step would be to ensure effective implementation. It is hoped that all state governments will embrace this law wholeheartedly and implement its provisions at the district level. Only then will the central government’s efforts to address India’s trafficking problem be realized.