Chimi Dema

The Department of Law and Order (DLO), in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), is formulating a national prevention strategy against trafficking in persons (TiP).

This, officials say is to strengthen coordination and collaboration mechanisms amongst stakeholders dealing with TiP.

 A two-day consultation meeting on formulating the prevention strategy document was conducted in Thimphu on February 6 and 7.

 It is a part of UNODC’s project “Promoting a Rights Based Multi-Sectoral Responses to prevent Trafficking of Persons in Bhutan”.

 DLO’s officiating chief of external affairs division, Karma Dorji, said TiP is not a big issue in the country currently but with an increasing number of Bhutanese youth going abroad with promises of good employment and income opportunities, it is likely that they may become victims of human trafficking.

 He also said recognising it as a growing threat in the international arena, it is important the country prepare to prevent the crime and deal with it proactively and effectively.

 Sources said TiP is considered a heinous crime and grave threat to humanity and one of the fastest-growing transnational organised crimes.

 Lack of prevention strategy document at the national level and unawareness among concerned agencies on specific role in addressing human trafficking were some of the challenges confronted by relevant stakeholders in the past. 

 But the launch of the standard operating procedure (SOP) for multi-sectoral response to address TiP last year and the strategy document that would be in place soon is expected to outline the roles and responsibility of all relevant agencies while responding to human trafficking.

 An official said given the complexity of the issue, effective coordination and cooperation between law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, relevant government agencies, commissions and civil society organisations are important.  

 Besides serving as guidelines to concerned stakeholders, the documents are also expected to ensure that victims are provided the necessary assistance and traffickers are brought to justice.

 Meanwhile, as a part of the project, awareness programme on TiP was conducted among students, teachers, employees of drayang, local government leaders, legal officers, overseas employment agents and media personnel.

 Besides, officials from law enforcement agencies and prosecutors, among others were provided capacity building training.

 Following the completion of formulating the strategy document, officials said that the special task force would be formed for the effective and efficient implementation of the document. Further consultation workshops would be held as well.