Stating that India is a source, destination and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, the US on Friday asked the government to prosecute officials allegedly complicit in trafficking and convict and punish the guilty.
“When we embrace our common humanity and stand up for the dignity of all people, we realise the vision of a world that is more caring and more just, a world free from slavery.
“That is the vision that inspired generations of abolitionists who have preceded us,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said as he released the annual “Trafficking in Persons” report for the year 2014, which expresses concern over the status of human trafficking in India.
“Government officials’ complicity in human trafficking remained prevalent and the Indian government made few efforts to bring them to justice; victims were sometimes arrested or targeted for investigation for reporting abuse,” said the India section of the report, which noted that India made some improvements in victim care, rehabilitation, and compensation.
But the implementation of these services was inconsistent and their quality was frequently substandard, it said.
“The Trafficking in Persons report is a call to action. It’s a call to conscience. It is a reminder of what happens in many dark places that need light. And we have a responsibility to try to bring that light to these individuals and to these places,” Kerry said in his remarks at a ceremony at the State Department.
Kerry felicitated 10 individuals from different countries in recognition of their work against human trafficking in their respective countries.
Prominent among them include Bhanuja Sharan Lal from India, Tek Narayan Kunwar from Nepal and Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews from Trinidad and Tobago.
“I’m very grateful to the heroes who are here. Their stories are inspiring,” Kerry said.
“In fact, all of you are a testimony to the fact that trafficking in persons is one of those rare issues that could bring everybody together, whatever their politics or their ideology,” he said.
“If the cries of those who are enslaved around the world today were an earthquake, then the tremors would be felt in every single nation on the continent, on every continent, simultaneously. For years we have known that this crime affects every country of the world, including ours. We’re not exempt,” he added.
“More than 20 million people, a conservative estimate, are victims of human trafficking. And the United States is the first to acknowledge that no government anywhere yet is doing enough. We’re trying. Some aren’t trying enough. Others are trying hard. And we all need to try harder and do more,” Kerry said releasing the report, which places India as Tier 2 country.
Tier 2 countries are those whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
According to the report, India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
The forced labour of an estimated 20 to 65 million citizens constitutes India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage — sometimes inherited from previous generations — are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories, it said.
“A common characteristic of bonded labour is the use of physical and sexual violence as coercive means. Ninety per cent of India’s trafficking problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata — lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities, and women from excluded groups — are most vulnerable,” the report said.
The State Department’s recommendations for India include prosecution of officials allegedly complicit in trafficking, and convicting and punishing those found guilty.