Using mobile and GPS technologies,a SAARC body is trying to develop a digital system to track missing children at the regional level and combat cross-border trafficking.
“We are now seriously looking at how digital technology can be applied to control cross-border trafficking. Hopefully after 2015,we will have an integrated system based on mobile or GPS technologies which can be applied in all the eight SAARC countries,” said Rinchen Chophel,director general for the South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) secretariat.
SAIEVAC is a SAARC apex body which works to protect children in south Asia from all forms of violence,abuse,exploitation,neglect and discrimination.
In Kolkata recently to participate in a discussion on the issue of missing children organised by the Child In Need Institute (CINI),Chopel said technology can help locate trafficked children.
“With such a system,data will be shared at all levels between different governments so that when a child goes missing in one country,the government of all neighbouring countries get information on that. It would then be easier for them to locate the kids and rehabilitate them,” he said.
The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development presently runs a web-based national tracking system for missing and vulnerable children.
It is estimated that around 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide every year for various reasons including prostitution and forced marriage. Many of them are used as cheap or unpaid labour and also for sport and organ harvesting besides being recruited into armed groups.
SAIEVAC’s focus,Dr Chophel said,is now on missing children. “Due to its geopolitical location,India is not only a destination country but also a source as well as a transit point for trafficking,” he said.
The official said at present SAARC nations do not have a bilateral agreement for cross-border collaboration for trafficked victims.
“A MoU is now being negotiated between India and Bangladesh while the SAARC convention is limited by the fact that it does not have a reporting obligation. Therefore it does not put accountability on delivery. But there may be a revision in this next year,” Dr Chophel said. They are also working to ensure that a uniform toll-free child helpline number 1098 gets operationalised in all the countries.