Bid to combat human trafficking gets a boost

Kathmandu, October 17

New amendment to Police Regulations has a provision of forming Anti-human Trafficking Bureau, to give more teeth to the security agency, in its fight against transnational human trafficking.

The amendment, which was published in the Nepal Gazette on September 30, has defined functions, duties and powers of the bureau and its chief. Main functions of the bureau are to make necessary arrangements to prevent the cases of human trafficking, investigate criminal offenses related to human trafficking, rescue victims of trafficking and provide emergency protection to them, carry out supervision of other police units, maintain central data of human trafficking and perform other tasks in accordance with prevailing laws.

According to the amendment, the bureau may also assign an appropriate police unit to conduct investigation into the complaints of trafficking. “The bureau shall have the power to deploy its employees in any parts of the country as part of its effort to tackle the organised crime,” the amendment reads. The bureau shall remain under Nepal Police and will be led by senior superintendent of police.

Nepal Police said the bureau was established to enhance its capacity in tackling human trafficking, which had become a growing problem in the country.

It also ensures greater access to services for the victims of human trafficking through capacity building of the law enforcement agency. Human trafficking has remained the largest criminal industry after drug smuggling in the world.

A source at the Ministry of Home Affairs said the government was also planning to depute police attachés to Nepali embassies in destination countries with high number of Nepali migrant workers.

Police attachés will be deputed to the Nepali embassies abroad, mainly the Gulf countries, to coordinate investigation of charges levelled against Nepali traffickers hiding abroad.

They will work to prevent human trafficking in the name of foreign employment. Scores of suspects of human trafficking have been living in foreign countries.

According to statistics provided by Nepal Police, it received 305 complaints of human trafficking in fiscal 2017-18 while as many as 174 cases of human trafficking were filed with police until mid-February of 2019.

A report on ‘Trafficking in Persons-2019’ released by the National Human Rights Commission said around 1.5 million population was at risk of trafficking in fiscal 2018-19 and nearly 35,000 of them ended up being victims to various forms of trafficking.

Human traffickers have been capitalising on lack of employment opportunity in the country, low education level and poverty, to lure women, girls and men into foreign countries with the promise of lucrative jobs and better future, the report stated. The victims felt cheated only when they were left to fend for themselves in a foreign country.

Key agents of smugglers comprised individuals as well as agencies that included recruiting firms, education consultancies, marriage bureaus and cultural groups, according to the report.