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Trafficking in Persons: Nepal’s Intermediate Progress

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Nepal has made intermediate progress in combating trafficking in persons, says an annual US report.

The US State Department released its annual Trafficking in Persons Report on June 12. Nepal’s status has more or less remained the same.

Collapse of local government, instability, and lack of funds are cited as hindrances.

Nepal is among 75 countries in an intermediate group called “Tier 2.” These countries are considered as demonstrating a “significant” commitment to address their trafficking problems but have not yet achieved international standards.

India, China, Russia, Mexico, and South Africa are among 32 countries under “Tier 2 Watch List.” These countries have shown signs of failure despite their commitment to international standards.

There 16 countries in Tier 3, the bottom of the list: Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, North Korea, Sudan, Bahrain, Iran, Oman, Syria, Burma, Kuwait, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela. These countries have shown no commitment to meeting international standards.

The report says about 800,000 people a year, nearly 80 per cent of them women and more than half children, are trafficked across borders and forced into prostitution, indentured domestic servitude or slave labor.

Except for 2005, Nepal has consistently been placed under Tier 2 since 2001. In 2005, the country was listed under Tier 1. This progress was noted in the report with this remark: "Despite setbacks in other areas, Nepal has over the years made steady progress in its efforts to combat trafficking, as the problem affects thousands of its young population. Other serious human rights problems in Nepal are reported and analyzed in the annual Human Rights Report, available at:"

This year’s report says Nepal is making significant efforts to eliminate trafficking in persons but has not fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. It says the country’s measures to prevent trafficking improved only slightly since last year.

The report notes that political instability and limited resources in Nepal hampered effective implementation of anti-trafficking policies. The report says the effects of the decade-long insurgency has led to the collapse of local government and that has increased the risk of trafficking while constraining the government’s efficiency. Despite these obstacles, the country continued its efforts to prosecute trafficking offenders and expanded local Women’s Police Cells to 24 stations.

The lack of funds and human resources at the Women’s Cells continued to hamper progress. The government also did not demonstrate a concerted effort to criminally prosecute and adequately punish labor recruiters who use deceptive practices to force workers into involuntary servitude abroad, the report says.

The full text of the 2007 summary on Nepal is as follows:

Click here for more photos. Kay Chernush for the U.S. State Department

NEPAL (Tier 2): Trafficking in Persons Report, 2007

Nepal is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Children are trafficked internally and to India and the Middle East for commercial sexual exploitation or forced marriage, as well as to India and within the country for involuntary servitude as child soldiers, domestic servants, and circus entertainment or factory workers. Nepalese women are trafficked to India and to countries of the Middle East for commercial sexual exploitation. They also migrate willingly - though sometimes illegally - to Malaysia, Israel, South Korea, the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and other Gulf states to work as domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions of involuntary servitude such as withholding of passports and other restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, and physical or sexual abuse. Despite the Government of Nepal's ban on traveling to Iraq for work, some Nepalese who believe they are being offered jobs in Jordan or Kuwait travel there, and then are later deceived and trafficked into involuntary servitude in Iraq.

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. Effective implementation of anti-trafficking policies is hampered by political instability and limited resources. The absence of local government in rural areas as a result of the decade-long insurgency has increased the risk of trafficking while constraining the government's efficiency. Despite these limitations, Nepal maintained its efforts to prosecute sex trafficking offenses and expanded local Women's Police Cells to 24 stations. The government, however, was not able to adequately fund or staff the Women's Cells, limiting their effectiveness. Nepal also did not demonstrate a concerted effort to criminally prosecute and adequately punish labor recruiters who use deceptive practices to force workers into involuntary servitude abroad.

Nepal made significant efforts to prosecute cases of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation this year, but made inadequate progress in prosecuting and punishing trafficking for involuntary servitude. Nepal does not prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons, but prohibits slavery, the selling of human beings, and forced prostitution through its Human Trafficking Control Act of 1986. Prescribed punishments under this law - 5 to 20 years' imprisonment - are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes. Fraudulent or deceptive labor recruitment is punishable by three to five years' imprisonment or a fine or both. From July 15, 2005 through July 14, 2006, Nepal filed a total of 393 sex trafficking cases at the district, appellate and Supreme Court levels. Of these cases, 87 were prosecuted to conviction, 60 persons were acquitted, and 246 cases are pending. The government does not keep records on sentences and fines, but NGO lawyers report that, in over half of the cases the government prosecuted, traffickers received the maximum prison sentence. Nepal did not report any cases filed against corrupt government officials who may have facilitated trafficking by taking bribes at the India-Nepal border or engaging in document fraud.

The government demonstrated only slight progress in adequately punishing labor recruiters who use deceptive recruitment practices to coerce Nepali workers abroad for labor exploitation. This reporting period, the government reported receiving 786 complaints against agencies and individual recruiters, canceling licenses for 116 manpower agencies, and ordering compensation to workers totaling $450,000. However, Nepal did not report any prison sentences imposed on agency owners or employees found to be engaging in labor trafficking through the use of deceptive or fraudulent recruitment practices. Nepal should expand efforts to vigorously investigate and adequately punish recruitment agency owners and employees believed to be involved in trafficking, and should improve its law enforcement efforts against corrupt officials facilitating trafficking.

Nepal made modest improvements in its efforts to protect victims of trafficking. The government expanded the number of Women's Police Cells operating throughout the country from 20 to 24 in 22 districts to assist trafficking victims. Although the government does not directly provide legal aid, limited funding is provided to local NGOs to provide trafficking victims assistance with rehabilitation, medical care, and other services. Victims are not punished, but foreign victims are not offered legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution. Though Nepal encourages victims to assist in investigations against their traffickers, lack of government resources and measures to ensure witness safety against threats by traffickers, as well as discrimination in court and in society, often discourage victims from pursuing legal recourse. The government does not provide victim protection services for men and women trafficked abroad for involuntary servitude. NGOs indicate that Nepalese embassies overseas lack personnel and other resources to help trafficking victims who face involuntary servitude in foreign countries. The government should increase protection efforts for victims of involuntary servitude by assisting in their repatriation, and adequately training government officials posted in destination countries on methods of identifying and protecting trafficking victims.

Nepal's measures to prevent trafficking improved only slightly since last year. The government continued to implement anti-trafficking information campaigns in conjunction with local NGOs, and maintained orientation sessions for all workers traveling overseas. The effectiveness of these orientation sessions, however, is limited since this requirement is only enforced on workers going abroad legally through registered agencies, some of whom chose not to receive the training. The government should put in place a more effective education program and develop mechanisms to prevent trafficking of women and girls across the porous Indo-Nepal border. Nepal has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

Previous Nepal summaries: 2006 (Tier 2), 2005 (Tier 1), 2004 (Tier 2), 2003 (Tier 2), 2002 (Tier 2), 2001 (Tier 2).

The 3 Tiers
Tier 1: Australia, Finland, Korea, Republic of Korea, Norway, Austria, France, Lithuania, Poland, Belgium, Georgia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Canada, Germany, Malawi, Spain, Colombia, Hong Kong, Morocco, Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, New Zealand, United Kingdom

Tier 2: Afghanistan, Ecuador, Macedonia. Senegal, Albania, El Salvador, Madagascar, Serbia, Angola, Estonia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Malta, Singapore, Bangladesh, Gabon, Mauritius, Slovak Republic, Belize, Ghana, Mongolia, Suriname, Benin, Greece, Montenegro, Taiwan, Bolivia, Guinea, Nepal, Tajikistan, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Guinea-Bissau, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Brazil, Indonesia, Niger, Thailand, Bulgaria, Israel, Nigeria, Togo, Burkina Faso, Jamaica, Pakistan, Turkey, Cameroon, Japan, Panama, Uganda, Chile, Jordan, Paraguay, Uruguay, Congo (Drc), Kyrgyz Republic, Peru, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Laos, Philippines, Yemen, Cote D'ivoire, Latvia, Portugal, Zambia, Croatia, Lebanon, Romania, Zimbabwe, East, Timor, Liberia, Rwanda

Tier 2 Watch List: Argentina, Cyprus, Honduras, Moldova, Armenia, Djibouti, India, Mozambique, Belarus, Dominican Rep., Kazakhstan, Papua New Guinea, Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, Russia, Cambodia, Fiji, Libya, South Africa, Central African Rep., The Gambia, Macau, Sri Lanka, Chad, Guatemala, Mauritania, Ukraine, China (Prc), Guyana, Mexico, United Arab Emirates

Tier 3: Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, North Korea, Sudan, Bahrain, Iran, Oman, Syria, Burma, Kuwait, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela

The full report is available at

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Brihát Śhānti Sámjhautā, 2006
(Comprehensive Peace Agreement)

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