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Though reliable statistics are difficult to obtain, trafficking in persons—specifically for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor within the country and abroad—is a growing problem in Nepal. As documented by the U.S. Department of State, law enforcement officials report that human trafficking is “increasingly dominated by well-organized syndicates that are often family-based and involved in other criminal activities such as drug trafficking.”
Given the scope and complexity of the problem, stakeholder coordination—including among multilateral and bilateral organizations, government agencies, and local and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—is critical. Mindful of this imperative, with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) recently established a stakeholder network focused on the investigation and prosecution of human traffickers. The network, which will help ensure that more human traffickers are brought to justice, is unique in its broad participation and in its action-oriented, collaborative mandate.
From July 28–29, ABA ROLI hosted the first of three stakeholder coordination meetings planned over the coming months. Thirty organizational representatives attended the meeting. Sapana Pradhan-Malla, a preeminent women’s rights advocate and member of Nepal’s Constituent Assembly, facilitated. Subject matter experts also contributed to discussions.
The meeting resulted in a group e-mail list and a clear division of labor among stakeholders. A government agency and a local NGO were tasked with fostering greater conceptual precision of the term ‘human trafficking,’ distinguishing it from prostitution or migration, to assist prosecutors in bringing charges. A subject matter expert and a local law school will jointly study human rights violations in the absence of adequate victim and witness protection. And the Joint Registrar of the Nepal Supreme Court and an international NGO will probe victim and witness confidentiality-related challenges.
The meeting helped generate a sense of community among the participants, which bodes well for future cooperation. Subsequent meetings are scheduled for December 2010 and May 2011.
To learn more about our work in Nepal, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at <email@example.com>.