On June 20, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a public event at the George Washington University Law School to release its Human Trafficking Assessment Tool (HTAT) report for Nepal. About 50 people, including anti-human trafficking experts, activists, public interest lawyers, civil society representatives and government officials attended the event, which featured multimedia presentations and thought-provoking discussions.
Funded by Humanity United, the HTAT report for Nepal documents and analyzes the efforts of the Nepali government, civil society organizations and technical assistance providers to suppress modern-day slavery and ensure the rights of human trafficking victims, particularly their access to justice and essential services. It also incorporates recommendations for sustainable anti-human trafficking solutions.
The report is based on a year-long assessment, including review of pertinent legislation and more than 60 interviews with human trafficking survivors and governmental and non-governmental anti-human trafficking stakeholders. The interviews were conducted in the capital Kathmandu and in the districts of Makwanpur, Morang and Kanchanpur, allowing a closer look at counter-human trafficking efforts at the local level. ABA ROLI conducted the assessment in collaboration with the Center for Legal Research and Resource Development, one of the leading non-governmental organizations in Nepal, and Geeta Pathak Sangroula, a renowned anti-human trafficking expert and executive director of the Kathmandu School of Law.
The assessment identified a moderate level of compliance of the Nepali legal framework with pertinent international legal standards. While domestic laws prohibit all forms of human trafficking, they fail to address some critical issues, such as prevention, witness protection, repatriation of victims and cross-border cooperation. The assessment also found that even though the government and major political parties have expressed their commitment to combat human trafficking, government response has been insufficient. Nepal does not have a victim identification protocol or a compensation fund and has minimal resources devoted to survivor rehabilitation. There’s very little international cooperation, and human trafficking-related prosecution is very low. The assessment also unveiled a critical lack of conceptual clarity both among the general population and justice system actors as to what human trafficking is, particularly in relation to foreign labor migration.
The report “is a vital source of hard-to-find information on socio-political, economic and legal aspects of human trafficking in Nepal and will be used by local and international stakeholders to prioritize their reform efforts and adopt more effective anti-human trafficking strategies,” said Paulina Rudnicka, ABA ROLI’s senior legal analyst and primary author of the report. “More than anything, I hope that the findings will help make a difference in the lives of Nepali people and improve the status of human trafficking victims.”
Following the release of the report, experts from Free the Slaves, Global Centurion Foundation, GoodWeave USA, Solidarity Center, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of State discussed effective and innovative methods of combating human trafficking in South Asia and how to address child slavery.
The HTAT report for Nepal is available here. You can also listen to audio recordings from the June 20 event at the links below.