Forced labour

It is high time Nepal strictly implemented the legal provisions relating to human trafficking to see the guilty punished

It is estimated that 30 million people are in forced labour worldwide. They are trafficked for labour or sexual exploitation and held virtually in slavery-like conditions. According to the Trafficking in Persons Report, 2015 made public Monday, the Government of Nepal is still not fully complying with minimum standards that have been set for the elimination of trafficking of humans. However, credit goes to those who are making significant efforts to do so. Numerous Nepali women and girls are trafficked in Nepal for immoral purposes, and they are sold off through agents mainly for sexual exploitation with destinationas in most of the continents, taken, for example, to India, the Middle East, various other Asian countries and the sub-Saharan Africa. Nepali men and women and even children are subjected to forced labour in Nepal and many foreign countries, including the United States, for construction works, in factories, mines and domestic work, begging and also in sex trade.

Over the years some progress has been achieved by the Government in preventing such trafficking due to stricter law enforcement. In the year 2014, 203 convictions were made for offenses, which appears to be a matter of immense concern given the large number of such offences existing and very little being done about them. Moreover, Nepal has now become a source, transit and destination country for forced labour and sex trafficking. Migrants from Bangladesh, and also some other countries, transit Nepal with forged documents. Behind these developments are some fraudulent manpower agencies, particularly unregistered ones, which charge hefty fees. A large number of Nepalis have fallen prey to them travelling via India. The involvement of some unscrupulous government employees has made it easier for illegal recruiters to include fake information in genuine Nepali passports and providing false documents to those seeking to migrate as laboureres. The plight of children is equally tragic as they are forced to work as labourers in brick kilns and domestic workers, crusher industry, among others, in Nepal and India. As the victims are unable to protect themselves voices should be raised against these practices that cause adults and children alike to suffer after being trafficked. The law enforcement agencies in Nepal are also found wanting in that they often detain trafficked victims and return them to the traffickers. Also it appears that many victims are coerced to take back their statements after being threatened by the offenders.

Therefore, it is high time Nepal strictly implemented the international laws relating to human trafficking to see to it that those guilty of such unlawful acts were punished. One of the wise measures to deal with the rampant human trafficking that is going on might be to lift current bans on the migration for domestic work through officially recognized channels. Nepal has been asked to make formal procedures to enable it to identify the trafficked victims and grant them protection services. And the government should take up this task with all seriousness.

READ ALSO:Nepal needs to up efforts to fight trafficking

Slow progress

The agricultural sector contributes over 30 percent to the GDP and it provides employment opportunity to more than 60 percent of the country’s total population. The need to modernize and mechanize the agriculture sector is often stressed, but no proper funding is made to realize it. Haphazard plotting of fertile lands in urbanized areas of the Tarai and urban centers in the hilly districts for housing purposes has further decreased the lands available for agriculture. To boost agriculture, the government should earmark enough funds for irrigation, fertilizers and improved or hybrid seeds.

But a story from Dhading suggests that the government has not done much for the development of the agriculture sector. For example, it took nine years even to complete the construction work of a small Daltar-Bhaltar irrigation project irrigating 3,740 ropanis of land. The Rs 27.15 million project could not kick start after the Asian Development Bank pulled out of it all of a sudden. The government should not have looked for a foreign donor even to build a small project like this. It shows the policy-makers’ apathy towards the development of the agriculture sector.

READ ALSO:Irrigation project finally completed