Trafficking: Issues and Framework of Laws

Trafficking of human beings is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of people for the purpose of exploitation. Trafficking involves a process of using illicit means such as threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability. Exploitation includes forcing people into prostitution or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. For children exploitation may include also, illicit international adoption, trafficking for early marriage, recruitment as child soldiers, for begging or for sports (such as child camel jockeys or football players)

Trafficking in human beings is a global issue, but a lack of systematic research means that reliable data on the trafficking of human beings that would allow comparative analyses and the design of countermeasures is scarce. There is a need to strengthen the criminal justice response to trafficking through legislative reform, awareness raising and training, as well as through national and international cooperation. The support and protection of victims who give evidence is key to prosecuting the ringleaders behind the phenomenon. The trafficking of Human beings is a matter of global concern as it involves the violation of fundamental rights.  Although numerous separate abuses that contravene both national and international law are committed during the course of trafficking, it is the combination of the victim’s displacement from their community and their commercialised exploitation that makes trafficking distinct.  There is a large body of international and national instruments like declarations, conventions and prohibiting trafficking.  An overview of selected International conventions that regulate trafficking is presented below.

The United Nations obligates States to refrain from committing human rights violations and also to take positive steps to ensure that individuals are able to enjoy their human rights. A State’s legal obligations are articulated in human rights instruments, such as treaties and conventions. The UN also drafts politically binding documents that do not have the force of law, such as declarations and resolutions, but which nevertheless represent important guidelines on States’ obligations. More information about the United Nations system, human rights documents and enforcement mechanisms can be accessed from the International Law section of this site.

The United Nations addresses trafficking in women from various directions. First, the UN human rights instruments apply to women and men equally, and are relevant to the kinds of abuses that women suffer in cases of trafficking. In addition, the UN international standards on the treatment of crime victims also obligate States to protect victims of trafficking. Second, of the types of violence against women addressed by this site, trafficking in women was perhaps the first to receive the attention of the UN as a transnational crime. This section, therefore, includes a historical overview of the UN conceptualization of trafficking, prior to the emergence of an international women’s human rights movement. Third, the UN treaties and resolutions that articulate the rights of women are applicable to the situation of trafficking and define trafficking as a form of gender-based violence. Since the early 1990’s, all major UN instruments on States’ commitment to ensure women the full enjoyment of their human rights and their protection from violence have included specific obligations to combat trafficking in women. Fourth, the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime entered into force in September 2003. The accompanying Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children received its 40th ratification in September 2003 and entered into force on December 25, 2003.

The Trafficking Protocol contains the international consensus definition of trafficking and sets forth State obligations to prevent trafficking, to protect victims and to prosecute perpetrators of trafficking. For more information on the Trafficking Protocol, please see the section entitled The Trafficking Protocol and Recent Initiatives. Finally, at its 60th session in April of 2004 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children for the explicit purpose of focusing on the human rights of victims of trafficking. To do so, the rapporteur’s job is to gather and exchange information from governments, non-governmental organizations and victims of trafficking in order to propose appropriate measures to prevent and remedy trafficking violations. Working within the major international instruments and definitions of trafficking, the Special Rapporteur will conduct country visits, publish reports, and take up cases where individual or widespread rights abuses have occurred.

States are obligated to protect the rights of trafficking victims under general human rights instruments. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees women the right to life, the right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to security of person. This Covenant also grants trafficked persons the right to an effective remedy for acts violating their fundamental human rights. The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights provides such basic guarantees as the right to an adequate standard of living (including food, clothing and housing), the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to education and the right to favorable work conditions, which includes fair wages, equal pay for equal work and reasonable limitation of working hours.

1. International Agreement for the suppression of the white slave traffic  – 1904.

The agreement was formulated with the intension of securing for women of full age who have   suffered abuse or compulsion against criminal traffic know as the white slave trade.

2.  International convention does the suppression of the white slave Traffic 1910.

This convention criminalised the procurement enticement or leading away of women or girl under the age of 21, even with her consent for immoral purpose irrespective of whether may have been committed in different countries.

4. Slavery convention 1926

States parties are enjoyed to discourage all forms of forced labour slavery means the owner’s control over another person, without the salve’s full informed consent for exploitation.

5.Forced Labour Convention (ILO) 1930.

Article-1 of this convention calls for the suppression of the use of forced or compulsory labour in all its forms as soon as possible.

7.Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)

Article 4 of the Declaration prohibits slavery and the slave trade.  Article – 13 recognies the right of persons

8. Unconventional for the suppression of the traffic in persons and of the exploitation of the prostitution of others (1949).

This convention is a compilation of four previous international conventions 1904, 1910, 1921 and 1933.  It made procurement, enticement, etc for prostitution punishable, irrespective of the age of the person involved and his/her consent to the same (Article -1).  Brothel keeping was also denounced as illegal and punishable Article 20.  However, it is limited to trafficking for prostitution and related activities.

10.Abolition of forced Labour convention (ILO) 1957.

Under this convention, states parties under took to abolish any form of forced or compulsory labour that is used as a means to establish political coercion, economic development, labout discipline or racial, social, National or religious discrimination.

15.United Nations convention against Torture and other cruel; inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (1984)

The convention provides against the expulsion or return of a person another state if there are substantial grounds for deeming him/her to be in danger of torture.  Victim compensation measures are also stipulate in it.

16.Tourism Bill of rights and the Tourist code (1985)

Adopted by the WTO, the code enjoins that state parties should preclude any possibility of the use of tourism to exploit others for the purpose of prostitution.

Legal Frame Work Against Trafficking In South Asian Countries:


The Bangladesh constitution guarantees equal rights and equal protection to every one regardless of gender.  The fundamental principles of state policy require the state to prevent prostitution. Article 34(1) prohibits all forms of forced labour.  The suppression of immoral Traffic Act 1933 protects all children up to the age of 18 from sexual exploitation.  The women and children repression; prevention Act 2000 provides stringent penalties against trafficking, Kidnapping, collection random, rape, the sexual exploitation etc., These provisions also apply to both internal and cross broader trafficking.  These were the some of the legal framework in Bangladesh Against Human Trafficking.


There is very little information available on the laws of.  Bhutan on trafficking.  In 2001, the UN committee on the Rights of the child considered Bhutan’s initial report and noted the absence of legislation on the minimum age of for employment.  There is insufficient data and awareness regarding the Human Trafficking.  It also suggested that new laws Need to be promulgated and existing law need to be suitably amended to address these issues.


There is no specific law to prohibit or prevent the trafficking in persons.  There are no reports of persons being trafficked to from or within the country  following Nationwide consultations, the Government has drawn up a National plan of action on the basis of the Beijing platform for action and the common wealth plan of Action on Gender and Development.


The constitution of Nepal enshrines the principles of equality and Justice for every citizen without any discrimination on the basis of race, caste, sex, creed, etc., and safe Guards the human rights of all citizens. Code of law 1963. Lays down provisions against Inter-state and other of slavery and domestic trafficking-section decrees prison sentences of 20 years for International trafficking and 10 years for attempted sale, plus fines equaling to the amount of transaction.


One of Pakistan’s major problems is the smuggling of children to countries in Gulf for camel Jockey and racing.  The high profits and the lessening fear of harsh punishment have bolstered syndicates of Human traffickers across “Asia, the middle east and Europe.

The prevention and control of Human Trafficking ordinance 2002 has been promulgated to deal with all types of human trafficking.    However the legislation suffers from certain limitations.  Also legislation is focused on trans border trafficking and not on domestic trafficking.  And the Human trafficking ordinance 2002 defines Human trafficking to include trafficking for any purpose, via, prostitution Forced labour and services.  It also takes into considerations the organised nature of the crime and presumes the vicarious liability of each member of the trafficker’s group by providing for stringer gent punishments; the ordinance also includes provisions for the compensations for the victims.


In country trafficking is one of srilanka’s major problems s.360 of the srilankan penal code deals with the offence of trafficking defined as the act of buying or sealing or bartering of any person for money or for any other consideration.  Those assisting, arranging the travel, recruiting, etc., said to be trafficking and be prostituted.

The national child protection Authority act is a landmark initiative that can help in preventing child abuse and in protecting child abuse and in protecting the rights  of children.


The constitution of India, under Article 23(1), prohibits trafficking in human beings and forced labour; this right enforceable against the state and private citizens.

However, trafficking was never defined in Indian laws except in the Goa children Act, which is specified to the state of Goa.  In India the law has no express provision for confiscating the assets amassed by the traffickers, nor does it have provisions for the victim protection.  The concerned authorities should consider these points so that the laws and provisions are made victim friendly.

Let us prevent commercial dealings in human beings.



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