Monday, September 26, 2011

Believe Me Or Not: Foreign Employment Has Become Major Source Of Human Smuggling


“Foreign Employment Has Become Major Source Of Human Smuggling”
Krishna Hari Pushkar

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Nepal
Nepal (Tier 2)
Nepal is mainly a source country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Some Nepali women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking in Nepal, India, and the Middle East, and also are subjected to forced labor in Nepal and India as domestic servants, beggars, factory workers, mine workers, and in the entertainment industry, including in circuses and in pornography. They are subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor in other Asian destinations, including Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Nepali boys also are exploited in domestic servitude and – in addition to some Indian boys – are subjected to forced labor in Nepal, especially in brick kilns and the embroidered textiles industry. One NGO is concerned that China is an emerging sex trafficking hub for Nepali girls. There were reports of traffickers in the remote Karnali region who deceive families into sending their children to urban areas with false promises of schooling. Many of these children, however, are never sent to schools and some end up in forced labor, including forced begging. Bonded labor exists in agriculture, brick kilns, and the stone-breaking industry. Particularly in agriculture, this is often based on caste lines, where traditional landlord castes use debt bondage to secure unpaid labor from Dalit laborers. Traffickers generally target uneducated people, especially from socially marginalized and traditionally excluded groups. However, a growing number of victims are relatively well-educated and from traditionally privileged groups.
Many Nepali migrants seek work in domestic service, construction, or other low-skilled sectors in Gulf countries, Malaysia, Israel, South Korea, Afghanistan, and Libya with the help of Nepal-based labor brokers and manpower agencies. They travel willingly but some subsequently face conditions indicative of forced labor such as withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, nonpayment of wages, threats, deprivation of food and sleep, and physical or sexual abuse. Some are deceived about their destination country, the terms of their contract, or are subjected to debt bondage, which can in some cases be facilitated by fraud and high recruitment fees charged by unscrupulous agents. Many workers migrate via India; this is illegal, due to the 2007 Foreign Employment Act that requires all workers to leave for overseas work via the Kathmandu airport. Many migrants leave by land because it is easier and cheaper than traveling by air, and to avoid legal migration registration requirements, the scrutiny of a labor migration desk in the airport, and bribes that some officials reportedly require at the airport to secure migration documents. A recent survey of returned migrants served by the NGO Maiti Nepal assessed that 67 percent of female Nepali workers who returned from the Gulf were unhealthy; most disorders were psychological illnesses. Nepali officials have reported a large increase of Bangladeshis transiting through Nepal in recent years due to increasing migration restrictions of Bangladeshis by foreign countries. Officials believe many Bangladeshis illegitimately obtain Nepali visas and work permits for employment in the Gulf, and noted, because these Nepali documents are often produced fraudulently, the Bangladeshis are at risk of being trafficked.
The Government of Nepal does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so, despite limited resources. During the year, the government established the Central Crime Investigative Bureau's special unit to investigate trafficking and increased its direct financial support for protective services in Nepal and abroad. Incidents of trafficking-related complicity by government officials were not documented by the government, but reported by civil society. The lack of proactive victim identification remained a serious problem in Nepal.
Recommendations for Nepal: Increase law enforcement efforts against all types of trafficking, including labor trafficking, and against government officials who are found to be complicit in trafficking, while respecting the rights of victims and defendants; institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to protection services; ensure that sex trafficking victims are not punished for involvement in prostitution; improve protection services available for victims of all forms of trafficking; promote legal awareness programs to potential trafficking victims and government officials; work with Indian officials to establish a procedure to repatriate Nepali victims of trafficking in India; decentralize the system to file complaints under the Foreign Employment Promotion Board as a means to facilitate victims' access to legal remedies; consider increasing avenues for female migrant workers to migrate legally and safely to the Gulf; and provide disaggregated data under the Human Trafficking and Transportation Control Act.
Prosecution
Nepal prohibits most forms of trafficking in persons, including the selling of human beings and forced prostitution, through its Human Trafficking and Transportation Control Act (2007) and Regulation (2008) (HTTCA). Prescribed penalties range from 10 to 20 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The Bonded Labor (Prohibition) Act (2002) prohibits bonded labor, but has no penalties. Defendants in trafficking cases are not assumed innocent, violating fair trial standards. According to the Office of Attorney General, 174 offenders were convicted in 119 cases tried in court under the HTTCA; 71 cases resulted in convictions and 47 cases resulted in acquittals in Nepal's 2009-2010 fiscal year. This compares with 172 offenders convicted in 138 cases tried in court, with 82 cases resulting in convictions and 56 case acquittals, in the previous fiscal year. It is not known how many of these cases were for human trafficking, since the HTTCA also prohibits other offenses that do not constitute human trafficking, such as people smuggling. Government statistics did not include information about punishments and did not disaggregate whether convictions were for sex trafficking, labor trafficking, or non-trafficking offenses. The much lower number of convictions reported in the 2010 Report represented only convictions obtained from the Supreme Court, while the numbers offered above represent convictions obtained from district courts. Some Foreign Employment Tribunal case convictions under the Foreign Employment Act may have involved human trafficking. The tribunal is based in Kathmandu without branch offices, which restricts victims outside of the capital from filing cases. In 2010, the government established a special unit to investigate human trafficking within the Central Crime Investigative Bureau. One government source noted a decrease in victims' confidence in the prospect of justice in Banke district – a western district of Nepal – because very few labor traffickers of migrant workers have been punished in the district. This is believed to have negatively affected the number of trafficking cases filed with police in the district.
The incidence of trafficking-related complicity by government officials remained a problem. Anecdotal evidence suggests that traffickers use ties to politicians, business persons, state officials, police, customs officials, and border police to facilitate trafficking. Although in the past it was reported that many dance bars, "cabin restaurants," and massage parlors in Kathmandu that facilitate sex trafficking were co-owned by senior police and army officials, some security officials report that recently adopted police and army rules prohibit officials from running businesses without approval, and that this has decreased the practice; this has not yet been confirmed by civil society groups. Some Nepali officials may work with traffickers in providing false information in genuine Nepali passports. Politically-connected perpetrators enjoy impunity from punishment. There were no trafficking related investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials for complicity in trafficking during the reporting period. Between January and March 2010, according to official statistics, the Maoists discharged the 2,973 child soldiers they recruited during the 10-year conflict, some of whom may have been trafficking victims. However, no Maoist official has been charged in connection with the conscription of child soldiers. Government officials who participated in counter-trafficking training-of-trainers programs led workshops in their various districts.
Protection
The Government of Nepal does not have a formal system of proactively identifying victims of trafficking among high-risk persons with whom they come in contact. Some police officers made arrests during raids on commercial sex establishments but did not identify victims. As a result, child trafficking victims were arrested, jailed, and then charged "bail" which the police and court allowed traffickers to pay; this further indebted the girls before they were handed back to their traffickers. A 2009 Supreme Court ruling which ordered police to not arrest females in these establishments was largely unheeded, but some NGOs recently filed successful contempt of court cases which released some girls from detention. Police arrested some Bangladeshi migrant workers during raids in 2010 while they were allegedly trying to fly overseas with fake Nepali passports, and did not make attempts to identify whether they were trafficking victims.
During the last year, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) fulfilled a commitment reported in the 2010 TIP Report to open and partially-fund five NGO-run shelter homes for female victims of trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault; a total of eight NGO shelters are now given some funding by the government. As of February 2011, 77 victims were in those shelters. During the year, the MWCSW fulfilled a second commitment to open 15 emergency shelters across the country for victims of trafficking and other forms of abuse. All facilities that assist trafficking victims were run by NGOs and most provided a range of services, including legal aid, medical services, psychosocial counseling, and economic rehabilitation. The Nepal Police Women's Cells reportedly sustained partnerships with NGOs to ensure that victims were provided with available shelter; however, it is unknown how many survivors received assistance. There were not sufficient facilities to meet the needs of all survivors, nor were there any protective services for males. The Government of Nepal allocated approximately $7,000 for rescue efforts by the Nepal Embassy in India in the 2010 to 2011 fiscal year, a 55 percent increase compared to the previous fiscal year. The government continued to run emergency safehouses in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. While the Foreign Employment Promotion Board collected fees from departing registered migrant workers for a welfare fund, most of the funds remain unused and are inaccessible to migrants who did not register with the Board; these irregular migrants may be most at risk to trafficking.
Limited protections for victims negatively affected law enforcement efforts. Victims were often intimidated in their communities not to pursue a case, and they did not want to prosecute due to concerns for personal and family safety, particularly as their traffickers may have been family members. Many victims were unaware that legal recourse was available against traffickers. The government did not encourage trafficking victims to participate in investigations against their traffickers. Judges reportedly often took an adversarial, rather than impartial, stance when dealing with trafficking victims.
Prevention
The Government of Nepal improved efforts to prevent human trafficking during the reporting period. The government organized rallies and distributed posters and pamphlets to mark the fourth annual National Anti-Trafficking Day. The National Human Trafficking Task Force was more active in the reporting period; it met more times than in previous years, secured more funds for rescue, and helped repatriate a Nepali victim from a rehabilitation home in Bangladesh. The MWCSW established District Committees on Controlling Human Trafficking in 49 districts this past year. While all districts are now covered, a number of those in rural areas are not active. According to the Foreign Employment Promotion Board, during the year the Board conducted safe migration radio programs on more than 50 stations throughout the country; this is twice as many stations as was reported in the previous year. In January 2011, the Ministry of Labor formed a Committee to Hear the Issue of Undocumented Workers. The committee met once during the reporting period, and includes an NGO. Chapter 9 of the 2007 Foreign Employment Act criminalizes the acts of an agency or individual sending workers abroad through fraudulent recruitment promises or without the proper documentation, prescribing penalties of three to seven years' imprisonment for those convicted; fraudulent recruitment puts workers at significant risk of trafficking. Despite national registration drives and committees responsible for registering births, the Central Child Welfare Committee in 2008 reported that only 40 percent of children had birth registration certificates. All Nepali military troops and police assigned to international peacekeeping forces were provided some pre-deployment anti-trafficking training funded by a foreign government. Nepal is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Nepal, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4e12ee5bc.html

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nepal's Speech at 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Was Not Matured ?


Nepalese Got Huge Loss Just Because of Visionless Speech?
The historical speech and strong commitment (It is our principled position that we support a fully independent and sovereign Palestine State based on the UN resolutions. We look forward to its materialization at the earliest.) of Rt. Hon. Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, Prime Minister of Nepal, to the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly may create further tension, specially in bilateral labour relation of the both countries. Directly, his speech may hamper or intensively decrease the upcoming huge employment opportunities of Nepalese youth in Israel that is just about to re-begun in this month after long efforts by various stakeholders. He could have expressed his speech indirectly or in diplomatic manner. I am not sure but looks like it’ will bring terrible consequences  in overall foreign employment opportunities for Nepal. Particularly, capitalist alliance or pro-Israeli countries including United States of America may treat Nepal as an opposition just because of his direct speech. Anyways, Nepalese got huge loss just because of visionless speech?Let us think to minimize the negative impact!

Personal View Expressed By Krishna Hari Pushkar
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Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,

Distinguished Delegates,
Let me begin by congratulating you, Mr. President, on your election to the President of the Sixty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly. I also take this opportunity to sincerely thank the outgoing President, His Excellency Mr. Joseph Deiss, for having successfully steered the Sixty-fifth session. Let me also express our sincere appreciation to His Excellency Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations for strong commitment and dedication with which he has been serving the United Nations. We wish him further success in his second term. Nepal warmly welcomes the Republic of South Sudan as a newest member of the United Nations.
Mr. President,
It is a distinct honor and privilege for me to bring to this august Assembly the voice of the voiceless of the world. I have brought with me greetings from the nearly 30 million toiling but proud people of Nepal, who have recently liberated themselves from age-old feudal monarchy and autocracy. Nepal is an enchanting land of Mt. Everest, the top of the world. It is the birthplace of Gautam Buddha, the apostle of peace. And it possesses an unbelievable variety of natural beauty and diversity.
In recent years, a momentous transformation is taking place in Nepal. After a long and persistent struggle, a feudalistic and autocratic monarchy has been abolished. We have entered into a new historic era with the creation of a new federal democratic republic of Nepal. Today, the new state apparatus is striving to take into account the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-cultural diversity of the country. Abolition of all discriminations and oppression based on class, gender, nationality, region and caste and creating an inclusive democratic system and a just society is at the heart of all our struggles for decades. Thanks to the ultimate sacrifice of the thousands of martyrs of the historic People’s War of 1996 to 2006, People’s Movement of 2006, Madhesh Movement and many other oppressed people’s movements that we have come this far to lay the foundation of a new Nepal. We have to consolidate these historic gains and institutionalize them in order to establish sustainable peace, justice and prosperity to all. My government is fully committed to doing that with the conclusion of the peace process and the writing of a new constitution through the Constituent Assembly at the earliest. The constitution will not only guarantee the fundamental democratic norms and values. But it will also ensure that our multi-party democracy is inclusive, participatory and life-changing for all, especially the oppressed laboring masses and the marginalized ones. As it is rightly said: ‘The highest measure of democracy is neither the extent of freedom, nor the extent of equality, rather the highest measure of participation’, we want to institutionalize a really participatory democracy for all, particularly the downtrodden ones.
In this context, I would like to remind this august Assembly of the poignant words expressed from this podium in 2008 by the Chairman of my party, Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the then Prime Minister, Com. Prachanda, about the landless peasants, downtrodden women, the so-called untouchable dalits and millions of exploited masses of Nepal who are aspiring for liberation from all forms of oppression and exploitation.
Nepal’s home-driven peace process and historic transformation are unique and could be a good example for drawing lessons. We believe that transformation has to be holistic to have its long lasting impact at the grassroots. Transformation in political, social and economic fields has to be brought about holistically. It is attainable with dedication, dialogue and consensus building among stakeholders. Like in any other countries, transitional pains and delays are there. But we are united in our vision and we intend to complete the transition process with consensus and cooperation of all the political parties and stakeholders. We are confident that with international goodwill and cooperation, we will achieve it at the earliest.
Nepal’s foreign policy is based on fundamental principles of the UN Charter, non-alignment and Panchsheel principles and promotion of regional cooperation through SAARC. We would like to be a vibrant bridge between our two neighbours and beyond. At a time when humanity is so much in need of peace, and we all are striving for it, we particularly appeal for the development of Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, as the fountain of world peace through effective international support and cooperation. The International Committee for Development of Lumbini needs to be reactivated at the earliest.
I extend sincere thanks to the United Nations, especially UNMIN for providing invaluable support and assistance throughout our peace process. We are hopeful that we would continue to receive goodwill and support from the international community in our efforts to institutionalize lasting peace, equity and prosperity in the country.
The United Nations holds a noble vision of peace and security, development and justice and human rights for all. But if we look around the world, we have a long way to go to achieve this. We still face conflicts, deprivation and demeaning poverty all around us. How can we have sustainable peace in the world when there is so much of inequity, deprivation and marginalization around us? We have to deal with their root causes. How can one justify the spending of 1.5 trillion US dollars on war weapons every year while more than two billion people across the globe lack basic necessities of food, medicine, etc?
It is in that context, I appeal to the United Nations to come forward with a far reaching and comprehensive development package. We need a “new Marshall plan” for rebuilding and reconstruction of the post-conflict countries. Lip-services and symbolic supports are not enough. It is time for a bold visionary step to deal with the complex problems of today. This would be a most cost effective approach to deal with the global problems and ensure sustainable peace.
Mr. President,
The principles and purposes of the United Nations as enshrined in the Charter represent the high ideals of the global community. Yet we live in an age of paradox. The gap between the poor and the rich is ever widening. Today the level of inequity between the states is the highest than at any time in the past. The Least Developed Countries, or I would rather prefer calling them Underdeveloped Countries, are facing the full force of negative side of globalization with their deep structural constraints. Jobless growth is a major challenge for all of us. In this integrated world, grinding poverty of the masses in billions is a recipe for disaster. The islands of prosperity amidst the sea of poverty are not sustainable. It is morally indefensible and economically undesirable. In a globalized and interconnected world, our destiny is inextricably intertwined. When my house is on fire, your house cannot be safe, and vice versa.
The recurrence of economic and financial crises, fuel and food crises and the deeper structural crises have vindicated the need to seriously review the current economic paradigm. I believe that this is the right time for deeper soul-searching and the creation of a new, just and scientific economic order. The new global economic order needs to deal with the current global volatility and the growing marginalization of the poor and the weaker economies. The financial capital-driven ‘globalization’ process is increasingly exposing its inherent structural deficiency and incompatibility. Unless the interest of labour, the basic source of human wealth, is duly integrated in this process, we may soon have to face the ‘globalization’ of unrest and upheavals. The United Nations should be the principal forum to look at it in a coherent, inclusive and holistic manner.
Mr. President,
The Least Developed Countries (LDCs) face severe structural constraints in their development efforts. Their vulnerabilities have been further aggravated with multiple crises. Despite some good progress in achieving individual goals, LDCs as a group are most off-track in meeting the internationally agreed upon development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration. Rights based approach to development is a must.
It is quite disheartening that even today about 75 percent of the population in LDCs lives in abject poverty and hunger. This situation is unacceptable and must come to an end sooner than later. Business as usual is not a solution to the deep-rooted problems. The historically structured process of ‘development of underdevelopment’ needs to be structurally addressed.
The Istanbul Declaration and the Program of Action must be implemented in its entirety and in an effective and timely manner. In particular, financing for development should be ensured as per the commitment. Duty-free, quota-free market access and supply-side capacity must be ensured to LDCs. Investment, technology transfer and private sector development should be promoted in LDCs. They are essential to translate the legitimate aspirations of the LDCs. A renewed and strengthened global partnership is critical to its implementation. We do not want to see another missed opportunity for the LDCs.
Nepal, in its capacity as chair of LDCs, will make every effort, in cooperation with fellow LDCs to ensure that the issues and concerns of the LDCs remain high on the priority list of the UN development agenda.
Similarly, the special difficulties of the Land-Locked Developing Countries (LLDCs) should be recognized and the freedom of transit should be ensured to them as a matter of right. Together with this, support for trade facilitation and infrastructure development in these countries should be scaled up.
Labour migration is a global phenomenon. We must protect the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families to ensure that ‘globalization’ is fair to all. As Nepal’s economy is increasingly dependent on remittance, this issue is very crucial for us.
Mr. President,
Climate change has clearly emerged as one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century. Global warming has precipitated melting of snow in the Nepal Himalayas, a source of fresh water for over a billion people living in South Asia. Therefore, we have taken the initiative of promoting sustainable mountain agenda in order to highlight their special vulnerabilities and fragilities. The industrialized countries should bear greater responsibilities for this.
There is an urgent need to make progress in climate negotiations and to ensure enhanced and predictable financing. The Rio+20 Summit scheduled for next year are critical to define a more sustainable development path and eradicate poverty for the LDCs. Sustainable development agenda should encompass all ecological considerations, including the crucial issue of sustainable mountain development.
Mr. President,
Nepal reiterates its call for general and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction in a time bound manner.
Nepal strongly believes that regional mechanisms complement efforts to promote the global disarmament agenda. The Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament for Asia and the Pacific (RCPD) located in Kathmandu would be instrumental in revitalizing the “Kathmandu Process” to facilitate dialogues and deliberations for confidence building in the region.
Nepal unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and calls for an expeditious conclusion of the negotiations on a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. We should differentiate between terrorism and struggles for freedom.
Nepal’s commitment to human rights is deep and unflinching. We are fully aware that the protection and promotion of all human rights including the right to development and fundamental freedoms strengthens the sustainability of peace and progress. We have established an independent constitutional body – the National Human Rights Commission as a watchdog institution. We are committed to build and strengthen this specialized national institution as a true custodian of human rights.
Mr. President,
The General Assembly, which is the only representative body at the global level, needs to be given commensurate power and authority to truly work as a ‘world parliament’. It should not remain toothless. Similarly, Nepal supports the expansion in the membership of the Security Council in both the categories. Reform must address all the interrelated issues such as representation as well as transparency and accountability in the working methods of the Security Council. The role and contribution of smaller states in the maintenance of international peace and security must be duly acknowledged.
We underline the crucial role of the United Nations in promoting international cooperation for development. Its role in shaping policy debate on and establishing global norms in economic and financial matters must be strengthened. Nepal welcomes all efforts aimed at promoting system-wide coherence, including the operationalization of UN-Women.
Mr. President,
Nepal’s participation in UN peacekeeping is long-standing and consistent. We remain steadfast in our commitment to international peace and security. Nepal has already provided over 80,000 peacekeepers, out of which 62 of our soldiers have laid down their lives in the line of duty. Hence, we would like to call for equitable representation at the leadership level.
In recent times, we have witnessed the outpouring of the popular sentiments for change and freedom around the world. We believe that this is a sign of a new beginning, where people are asserting themselves to be the master of their own destiny. We applaud these changes. We should support them based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations. However, no one should hijack the agenda of democracy for its partisan ends.
The long-drawn-out peace process in the Middle-East is a matter of serious concern for us all. We must find a comprehensive and just solution to these problems. It is our principled position that we support a fully independent and sovereign Palestine State based on the UN resolutions. We look forward to its materialization at the earliest.
Mr. President,

Finally, let me reiterate, the UN principles be holistic, and all be pursued in a balanced manner.
The United Nations should not only be the custodian of its noble principles, it must deliver on its promises. Let it not be a mere umbrella of big powers.
In a globalized world of today, the UN has more responsibility than ever before to create an inclusive and just global order. Let it not falter on its historic duties.
Let the UN serve the larger interests of the poor and the weakest segment of the international community.
Let economic transformation of LDCs with a rights-based approach be on top of the UN Agenda.
Let the UN not fail the aspirations of the millions of people for freedom, equality and prosperity. Let its vision be translated into a visible change in the lives of the oppressed people.
And, last but not least, let us keep in mind, either we all reach the goal of global peace and prosperity together, or nobody will.
Thank you.



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