An Oral Statement to the 32nd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council from the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC)
Asian states are both the origin and destination of victims of human trafficking. Despite national, regional, and international efforts to combat trafficking, the menace continues without hindrance in Asia.
Human trafficking can be controlled only if criminal justice machineries in originating countries function adequately. In Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Indonesia it is an uphill task even to get a complaint registered and investigated against traffickers. In these countries, law enforcement agents facilitate trafficking.
Police officers, and, in some cases, politicians, are notorious for running human and child trafficking syndicates. In Myanmar and Cambodia state officers are directly involved in trafficking women and minors to countries like Thailand. In Thailand, police and military officers reciprocates bribes to assist this business.
Most civil society organisations in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan do not trust the police to receive and process information regarding trafficking. The courts in these countries operate with an archaic procedural framework; victims run huge risks of being re-trafficked and exploited even when under protective court custody.
Across Asia, women victims are blamed for being trafficked, accused of falling prey because of upbringing and character. Even if victims are rescued, they prefer silence, fearing ostracism.
Mr. President: without thorough re-engineering of the criminal justice framework in Asian states, human trafficking cannot be effectively addressed. The policing establishments need particular attention. States must pledge commitment to make their agencies accountable, free of corrupt interference and equipped to undertake modern crime investigation. Without an effective witness protection framework and ending delays in court procedures, appointing additional judges, independent space for them, and provision of adequate resources these problems cannot be dealt with.
Thank you, Mr. President.
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