[ Human Trafficking, Country-by-Country ]

INDIA (Tier 2) Extracted from the U.S. State Dept 2020 TIP Report

The Government of India does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore India remained on Tier 2. These efforts included convicting traffickers and completing a high-profile investigation into a case that involved officials complicit in trafficking at a government-funded shelter home in Bihar, convicting 19 individuals in the case, including three state officials; an influential former legislator was among the 12 that received life sentences. The government also filed “First Information Reports” (FIRs) against other government-funded shelter homes in Bihar that allegedly abused residents, including trafficking victims. For the first time, the Madras High Court reversed an acquittal in a bonded labor case. The central government added investigation of inter-state and transnational trafficking cases to the mandate of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the country’s premier investigative body, which began investigating inter-state trafficking. The government continued to work on its draft anti-trafficking bill and committed to devoting funding to expand its police anti-human trafficking units (AHTUs) to all 732 districts. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not make serious or sustained efforts to address its consistently large trafficking problem. Overall anti-trafficking efforts, especially against bonded labor, remained inadequate. The government decreased investigations, prosecutions, and case convictions of traffickers, and the acquittal rate for traffickers increased to 83 percent. Law enforcement decreased victim identification efforts, and the government reported it had only identified approximately 313,000 bonded laborers since 1976—less than four percent of NGOs’ estimates of at least eight million trafficking victims in India, the majority of which are bonded laborers. NGOs estimated police did not file FIRs in at least half of reported bonded labor cases, and inconsistent with NGO reports, 17 of 36 states and territories did not identify any bonded labor victims in 2017 or 2018. Authorities did not proactively identify bonded labor victims and, according to three NGOs across 10 states, only provided mandatory release certificates to 43 percent of victims NGOs identified and mandatory compensation to 26 percent. Although several laws gave judges the authority to provide trafficking victims compensation, state and district legal offices did not regularly request it or assist victims in filing applications, and less than one percent of trafficking victims identified from 2010 to 2018 received compensation. 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 unaddressed. NGOs nationwide reported officials protected from prosecution local and state politicians who forced workers into bonded labor, and activists reported authorities did not investigate all high-level officials who may have been involved in the Bihar case, including those whom victims had identified as their sex traffickers.

Prioritized Recommendations

Increase investigations, prosecutions, and convictions of all forms of trafficking, including bonded labor. • Vigorously investigate allegations of official complicity in human trafficking and sentence perpetrators to significant prison terms. • Criminally investigate all reports of bonded labor. • Develop and immediately implement regular monitoring mechanisms of shelters to ensure adequate care, and promptly disburse funding to shelters that meet official standards for care. • 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 immediately. • Urge prosecutors to routinely request and judges to award, as appropriate, trafficking victim compensation, and urge legal aid offices to routinely inform trafficking victims of available compensation mechanisms. • 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. • De-link provision of the 2016 bonded labor scheme’s overall victim compensation from conviction of the trafficker. • Cease forcible detention of adult trafficking victims in government-run and -funded shelters. • Provide clear mandates, dedicated funding, and training to existing AHTUs, and establish new AHTUs with these same resources. • Continue to disseminate and implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification and referral, and train officials on their use. • Amend the definition of trafficking in Section 370 of the Penal Code to include labor trafficking and ensure that force, fraud, or coercion are not required to prove a child sex trafficking offense. • Eliminate all recruitment fees charged to workers. • Increase oversight of, and protections for, workers in the informal sector, including home-based workers. • Lift bans on female migration through agreements with destination countries that protect Indian workers from human trafficking. • Develop a national action plan to combat trafficking. • Provide rehabilitation services for child soldiers associated with non-state armed groups. • Provide anti-trafficking training for diplomatic personnel.