CURRENT IMPLICATIONS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Human trafficking refers to the process through which individuals are placed or maintained in
an exploitative situation for economic or commercial gain. Trafficking can occur within a
country or may involve movement across borders. Persons may be trafficked for any purpose,
ranging from forced and exploitative labour to sexual exploitation or forced marriage.
Trafficking affects all regions and most countries of the world. In the previous modules, we
have discussed the laws governing human trafficking. We have seen the Indian law and related
international instruments on various aspects of human trafficking. In this module, we will
conclude the discussion by discussing remedies and some recent developments.
Victims of trafficking undergo heavy exploited for little or no payment over long periods of
time. They may have suffered medical injuries and may require proper medical attention as an
immediate relief. In the long term, the rehabilitation and reintegration of the victim are
important. Some countries have expressly granted victims of trafficking the right to private
action against their traffickers. Some countries include mandatory restitution to trafficked
persons as part of the criminal sentencing of traffickers. Some countries grant victims the right
to file civil suits against their traffickers. The obligation to provide remedies and the right to
access remedies may arise in the following ways-
• The State is responsible for the violation of an international legal obligation (for
example, the prohibition on non-discrimination, the obligation to criminalize
trafficking, and the obligation to protect and support victims of trafficking);
• If the State was not directly involved, but it failed to discharge its obligation to prevent
the harm and/or to respond appropriately (for example, failure to investigate and
prosecute trafficking; failure to take measures to prevent trafficking).1
The trafficked persons, as victims of human rights violations, must have an international legal
right to adequate and appropriate remedies. Some of the important pointers to be followed in
an effective strategy must take into account the following-
Supported reintegration of the victim is a critical remedy. Reintegration of the victims reduces
the likelihood of them being re-trafficked. Reintegrated victims may also be less vulnerable to
intimidation, retaliation, social isolation and stigmatization. Supported reintegration is
important for the victims of crime and of human rights violations. Victim’s right to privacy and
right not to be discriminated also have to be respected.
Restitution must include material, judicial or other measures aimed at restoring the situation
that existed prior to the violation—as far as possible. Recognition of the legal identity and
citizenship of victim is important. The victim should be released from detention as an effective
measure of restitution. Safe return to place of residence or domicile should be provided to the
Compensation is the most important remedy. It is payable for damage caused by an
intentionally wrongful act. It is usually made payable to the extent that such damage is
economically assessable and that could not be made good by restitution. A proper remedy for
trafficked victims must include compensation for physical and psychological harm caused. It
must also compensate loss of opportunities and loss of earnings. Medical, legal and other
related costs should also be made payable in the compensation awarded to the victim of
Rehabilitation is a victim-centred notion. It identifies the need to ensure that the victim’s
position is “restored” in the eyes of the law and of the larger community. It may include
provisions for medical and psychological care. It may also include costs for legal and social
services. A range of support services should also be provided to the victim to help them build
their life back.
• Satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition
Satisfaction is a remedy for injuries that are not necessarily financially assessable but can be
addressed by ensuring that the violations of the victim’s rights are properly acknowledged and
dealt with. Verification of the facts and full and public disclosure of the truth (to the extent this
will not cause further harm) are examples of remedies aimed at providing satisfaction to the
victim. Guarantees of non-repetition are an important component of the right to a remedy in
the case of trafficking owing to the danger of, and harm caused by, re-trafficking. Safe return,
integration support and measures to prevent future trafficking are relevant, as is effective
investigation, prosecution and sanctioning of traffickers. In relation to trafficking in women
and girls, modifying legal, social and cultural practices that sustain or promote tolerance of
such violence is an important aspect of guaranteeing non-repetition.2
4.3 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 2020: INDIA
The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has published the “Trafficking in
Persons Report, 2020: India”3. It states that Government of India has not fully met the minimum
standards for elimination of trafficking, however, the report recognizes that significant efforts
have been made. India has been classified at Tier 2 in the Report. The Report has applauded
the Central Government’s decision to add investigation of inter-state and transnational trafficking
cases to the mandate of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The Report highlights that the government did not make serious or sustained efforts to address the
consistently large trafficking problem. The issue of bonded labour has been highlighted.
3 Available at https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-trafficking-in-persons-report/india/.
The government forcibly detained adult trafficking victims in shelters for multiple years until they
had a magistrate’s order for release. Authorities penalized some adult and child trafficking victims
for crimes their traffickers compelled them to commit. Often, official complicity in trafficking was
The Report has made some prioritized recommendations5, which are discussed in brief as follows-
• Increase investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of all forms of trafficking, including
• Vigorously investigate allegations of official complicity in human trafficking and sentence
perpetrators to significant prison terms.
• Criminally investigate all reports of bonded labour.
• Develop and immediately implement regular monitoring mechanisms of shelters to ensure
adequate care, and promptly disburse funding to shelters that meet official standards for
• Improve clarity on central and state government mandates for and implementation of
protection programs and compensation schemes for trafficking victims to ensure states
provide release certificates, compensation, and non-cash benefits to all victims
• Encourage state and territory compliance with the Supreme Court’s recommendation to
audit all government-run and -funded shelter homes.
• Cease inappropriate penalization of trafficking victims.
• Cease forcible detention of adult trafficking victims in government-run and -funded
• Increase oversight of, and protections for, workers in the informal sector, including home-
• Provide anti-trafficking training for diplomatic personnel
From the above discussion, we have been able to understand the problem of human trafficking and
its implications. The human rights aspect of the problem has also been highlighted. Though, India
has made significant efforts in complying with its international obligations, stringent measures need
to be taken to provide for proper rehabilitation and reintegration to the victims of human trafficking.
There is also a need for proper implementation of the existing laws.
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was passed
by the Lok Sabha in 2018, but the Bill lapsed due to dissolution of the house. Recently, the
National Human Rights Commission, in an effort to secure the rights of all women who have
been excluded and marginalised during the Covid 19 pandemic, included sex workers as
informal workers in their advisory on ‘Women at Work’. The advisory was issued on October