In April 2006, the Central Government of India, through the Ministry of Home Affairs in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime took up a project on “Strengthening the law enforcement response in India against trafficking in persons through training and capacity building
”, in order to raise awareness of law enforcement officers (police and prosecutors) on the problem of human trafficking and to build their capacity to better investigate and prosecute offenders perpetrating the crime. One of the objects of the project was the establishment of Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) and after introduction of AHTUs in five (5) states, positive outcomes were seen, showing that the AHTU model to investigate trafficking was effective.
Thereafter, in June 2010, the Central Government through the Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory notification with the subject “Comprehensive Scheme for Establishment of integrated Anti Human Trafficking Units and capacity building of responders, including Training of Trainers for strengthening the law enforcement response to human trafficking in India Plan
”. State Governments across the country would notify AHTUs for all their districts that would be responsible for registration of complaints and investigation of all cases related to human trafficking. The AHTUs were given many responsibilities, making their mandate very wide. The Central Government specified that the AHTU would be the “field level functional unit to address human trafficking in a holistic manner
This study on AHTUs attempts to discern the ‘coverage’ or ‘reach’ of AHTUs across India, by enquiring as to whether AHTUs have or have not been notified across India, whether they are functional or not and to engage with an inquiry to explain gaps in the system that have been elucidated by the stakeholders. All of this information can help provide a snapshot of the prevalence, expertise and impact of AHTUs on the anti-trafficking system at large. The primary purpose that this report may serve is to assist the Government of India and governments of various states in deciding the most effective course of action in addressing human trafficking. It may also help anti trafficking activists and organisations decide on strategies to strengthen policy and its enforcement, and the performance of AHTUs in the country. Sanjog wishes to make every effort to make the research available to survivors of trafficking across India, for they are the primary owners and beneficiaries of this research.
We hope this research will also help those academics, researchers and activists who are often bewildered and cynical about entrustingthe addressal of human trafficking solely to law enforcement and the judiciary. This research affirms once again that progress is often incremental and also determined by the quality of engagement by civil society, non-profits and affected communities. Ultimately, Sanjog hopes that it will help strengthen the maturity of activism in this space as well.
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