Chhimi Dema 

The National Council unanimously adopted the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) and Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children (TIP) yesterday.

All 23 Members of Parliament present in the House voted in favour of the Bill.

UNTOC is considered the main international instrument in the fight against transnational organised crime.   

The convention is supplemented by three protocols which target specific areas and manifestations of organised crime: the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; the Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by, Sea and Air; and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition.

Chairperson of the social and cultural affairs committee of NC, Mongar MP Sonam Pelzom, said that the convention and protocol would help combat trafficking by strengthening international cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of TIP cases.

Ratifying the convention and protocol will ensure protection for Bhutanese who are living or travelling abroad for education or work from trafficking, she added.

Records show that Bhutanese reside in 85 countries.

Sonam Pelzom said that the protocol would prevent child labour, indentured servitude and sexual exploitation. “It will also protect women and children or victims and allow the strategic rescue of victims if they are in other countries.”

A total of 190 countries signed the UNTOC and nine UN member states are not a party to the convention including Bhutan.

UNTOC has 41 articles and the TIP Protocol has 20 articles.

The convention and protocol are referred back to the National Assembly with amendments for re-deliberation.