Maneka Gandhi to release Draft Trafficking of Persons Bill today

New Delhi: Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi will release the Draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2016 in New Delhi today.

The new bill aims to check human trafficking by unifying several existing laws, meting out tougher punishment for repeat offenders and ensuring the protection and rehabilitation of victims.

Besides creating a comprehensive law against trafficking, the draft bill calls for the creation of a special court and investigation agency to tackle such cases and joint working groups with neighboring countries to undertake preventive measures.

According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, up to 5,466 cases of human trafficking were reported in 2014, an increase of more than 90 per cent since 2009.

The US Department of State’s 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report estimates that up to 65 million people were trafficked for forced labour in India. It said, 90 per cent of trafficking in India is internal.

At present, human trafficking cases are dealt with by a hodgepodge of laws and multiple agencies.

According to experts, these laws, including the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, are inadequate as they gloss over prevention or fail to address trafficking beyond sexual exploitation.

A senior official said, the draft bill will address these loopholes by bringing forced labour under the ambit of law and by working with the governments of Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar to curb trafficking.

To act as a deterrent, the bill proposes to double the jail term to 14 years for repeat offenders and people engaged in the trafficking of minors. (ANI)