India has recently approved their Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill in an effort to combat the widespread human trafficking problem throughout the country. The bill is quite broad and attempts to tackle every step of the trafficking process, as well as every facet of the problem throughout the country in one fell swoop. From forced begging to prostitution to migrant trafficking — these issues greatly contrast from one another, and organizations have begun to articulate worries that these strokes may be too broad and that they may even develop new problems for India.
The U.N. has expressed major concern over the nature of the bill. Special Rapporteur on trafficking persons, Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, and Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, Urmila Boola, said that, “Trafficking in persons is primarily a gross human rights violation. However, the Bill over-emphasises the criminal response and does not give due consideration to the rights and needs of victims and their effective protection and proper rehabilitation.” They were also concerned that all regular illegal immigrants, victims of human trafficking, and traffickers themselves might be conflated together under the new bill.
“We urge the Indian Parliament to revise the Bill in accordance with human rights law, including the OHCHR Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking, in consultation with civil society organisations, UN agencies and other relevant partners,” they said.
“Other problematic aspects include an ‘over-broad and vague nature’ of some of the Bill’s provisions, which could lead to blanket criminalisation of activities that do not necessarily relate to trafficking,” according to the UN.