Nepal: Trafficking in Persons Report 2017

Nepal: Trafficking in Persons Report 2017
U.S. Department of State
NEPAL: TIER 2 (page 294-296)

The Government of Nepal does not fully meet the minimum
standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making
significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated
increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period;
therefore, Nepal remained on Tier 2. The government
demonstrated increasing efforts through a rise in both the
number of trafficking investigations and victims identified,
and by doubling its budget to provide victim care services to
female victims of violence, including trafficking victims. The
government conducted awareness activities around the country
and revoked the licenses of more than 400 foreign employment
agents located outside of Kathmandu, reportedly to reduce the
exploitation of migrant workers. However, the government did
not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Its laws
do not prohibit all forms of trafficking and it lacks standard
operating procedures (SOPs) on victim identification. The
government stated its notable decrease in prosecutions from
341 cases in the previous Nepali fiscal year to 218 was due in
part to poor investigative technique by the police resulting
in insufficient evidence. While the government revised its
policies preventing female migration in several ways, observers
continued to report the revised policies compelled women to
use illegal methods to migrate which subsequently increased
their vulnerability to human trafficking. Many government
officials continued to lack understanding of trafficking crimes;
officials continued to register cases of labor exploitation abroad
under the Foreign Employment Act without investigation into
whether the abuse constituted a trafficking crime.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NEPAL
Respecting due process, increase investigations, prosecutions,
and convictions against all forms of trafficking, including
bonded labor, transnational labor trafficking of Nepali males,
sex trafficking of Nepali females within Nepal, and against
officials complicit in trafficking-related crimes; institute formal
procedures for proactive identification and referral of trafficking
victims to protection services; amend the Human Trafficking and
Transportation (Control) Act (HTTCA) to bring the definition
of human trafficking in line with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol;
expand access to and availability of victim care, including to
male victims; penalize licensed labor recruiters who engage
in fraudulent recruitment or charge excessive fees; implement
victim witness protection provisions in the HTTCA; enforce
the low-cost recruitment policy and continue to take steps to
eliminate all recruitment fees charged to workers; ensure victims
are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking; lift current bans on female
migration to discourage migration through undocumented
channels; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.

PROSECUTION
The government maintained anti-trafficking law enforcement
efforts. The 2007 HTTCA and the 2008 regulation prohibit
most, but not all, forms of trafficking in persons. The HTTCA
criminalizes slavery and bonded labor but does not criminalize
the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or receipt of persons
by force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of forced labor.
It criminalizes forced prostitution but, in a departure from
the 2000 UN TIP Protocol definition, does not consider the
prostitution of children as a form of trafficking absent force,
fraud, or coercion. The law also criminalizes facilitating
prostitution and removal of human organs. Prescribed
penalties range from 10 to 20 years imprisonment, which are
sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed
for other serious crimes, such as rape. The 2002 Bonded Labor
(Prohibition) Act prohibits bonded labor and the Child Labor
Act prohibits forced child labor. The Foreign Employment Act
(FEA) criminalizes fraudulent and deceptive labor recruitment.
The National Committee for Controlling Human Trafficking
(NCCHT) continued to work on draft revisions to the HTTCA
to bring the definition of human trafficking closer in line with
international law; however, the government did not complete
the revision process by the end of the reporting period.
The Nepal Police Women’s Cells conducted 212 investigations
under the HTTCA during the Nepali fiscal year compared with
181 cases in the previous fiscal year. The 212 cases involved
447 alleged traffickers of whom 192 were suspected of sex
trafficking and 140 of forced labor. The remaining 115 were
uncategorized, and it is unknown what proportion of cases were
transnational. These investigations involved crimes in which
women and girls were the primary victims. Crimes involving
male victims are handled by other police investigative units. The
Central Investigative Bureau investigated 20 transnational and
six internal trafficking cases between April and December 2016
compared with six transnational cases during the same time
period in 2015. In collaboration with the Sri Lankan police,
the Nepali government sent a team of police and ministry
officials from labor, foreign affairs, and women, child, and
social welfare (MWCSW) to Colombo to investigate allegations
traffickers and smugglers were increasingly using Sri Lanka as a
transit point to send Nepali women migrant workers to other
destinations. The government prosecuted 218 cases during the
fiscal year compared with 341 cases in the previous year. This
data was not disaggregated to distinguish between sex and
labor trafficking cases. The government stated the decrease in
prosecutions was related to a combination of poor investigative
techniques by the police, insufficient evidence for prosecution in
some cases, and other cases taking priority. At the district level,
courts convicted 262 traffickers during the fiscal year, compared
with 260 traffickers in the previous year, and acquitted 232
accused. Department of Foreign Employment (DFE) officials
continued to advise abused migrant workers returning to
Nepal to register complaints under the FEA rather than notify
police. Victims of transnational labor trafficking preferred to
submit claims for compensation through the FEA rather than
pursue lengthy criminal prosecutions under the HTTCA, often
to avoid the stigma associated with being labeled a trafficking
victim (assumed to insinuate sex trafficking) and because the
potential to be awarded compensation was higher.
The Women and Children Services Directorate conducted a course on trafficking investigations for 190 police officers and NEPAL continued to conduct psycho-social victim-centered training
during the reporting period. An NGO, in partnership with the
government, provided a 30-day, crime scene training course to
police officials, which included information on how to identify
and protect trafficking victims. Despite this training, police
officers’ lack of awareness of the anti-trafficking law, challenges in
evidence collection, and poor investigative techniques impeded
prosecution efforts. The Attorney General’s office trained public
prosecutors on prosecuting traffickers and utilizing a victim centered
approach to improve victim protection during legal
proceedings. In 2013 the anti-corruption commission indicted
46 officials from the DFE and Immigration for issuing fraudulent
documents; criminal proceedings were ongoing at the close of
the reporting period. Observers alleged some traffickers enjoy
impunity due to personal connections with politicians or by
bribing police. Despite continued allegations local officials
facilitated the falsification of age documents for child sex
trafficking victims, the government did not report initiating any
new investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government
officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.

PROTECTION
The government increased modest efforts to protect victims.
Authorities did not systematically track the total number of
victims identified. Police identified 419 victims of sex and labor
trafficking connected to the 238 investigations initiated during
the Nepali fiscal year compared with 327 victims identified
through investigations the previous year. Of the 419 victims, 109
were under age 18 and almost all were female—only two of the
identified victims were male. It is unknown how many of the
victims were exploited abroad. Officials’ poor understanding of
the crime, a lack of formal SOPs for identification, and victims’
reluctance to be identified due to stigma hindered proper and
proactive identification, especially among returning male labor
migrants who reported exploitation abroad. NGOs reported
government efforts to identify domestic sex trafficking victims
improved during the reporting period; police increased the
number of raids on Kathmandu adult entertainment businesses
and more consistently worked to identify sex trafficking victims
to avoid penalizing them for prostitution crimes. When properly
identified, victims were not detained, fined, or jailed for crimes
committed as a result of being subjected to human trafficking.
The government has national minimum standards for victim
care and referring identified victims to services. Despite these
standards and the government’s continued drafting of victim
identification and referral SOPs, referral efforts remained ad hoc
and inadequate. It is unclear how many victims were referred
to and able to utilize services during the year. The government
increased its budget to provide services for female victims of
violence, including trafficking, from 12.6 million Nepali rupees
(NPR) ($115,915) during the 2015-2016 fiscal year to 25 million
NPR ($229,991) for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. With support
from MWCSW, NGOs maintained eight rehabilitation homes,
17 emergency shelters, and one long-term shelter for female
victims of gender-based violence, including trafficking. MWCSW
provided the NGOs funding for three staff members per shelter,
some facility expenses, and victim assistance, including legal
assistance, psychological support, transportation, medical
expenses, and skills training. The government continued to
allocate 40,000 NPR ($386) for the protection of adult male
trafficking victims but did not fund shelter services. An NGO
ran one shelter for men in Kathmandu. In July 2016, MWCSW
launched an online directory to catalog service providers for
victims of human trafficking and migration-related exploitation.

At the close of the reporting period, the directory cataloged
services in 16 districts. Victims may seek compensation from a
rehabilitation fund if the government is unable to collect fines
from traffickers. During the reporting period, the government
paid a total of 50,000 NPR ($368) to the victim in one case. The
government established nine victim-witness protection rooms
in district courts during the reporting period. Overall victimwitness
protection mechanisms remained insufficient. They
also were impeded by a 2015 amendment to the HTTCA that
reinstated a provision allowing victims to be fined if they failed
to appear in court or criminally liable for providing testimony
contradicting their previous statements. The government did not
have established procedures for alternatives to the deportation
of foreign victims.
While Nepali embassies in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia,
Qatar, Bahrain, and United Arab Emirates provided emergency
shelters for vulnerable female workers, some of whom were
trafficking victims, the Foreign Employment Promotion Board
(FEPB) acknowledged the shelters lacked sufficient space
and resources to meet the high demand for assistance. FEPB
collected fees from departing registered migrant workers for a
welfare fund to provide repatriation and one year of financial
support to families of injured or deceased workers, which
could include trafficking victims. During the fiscal year, the
fund provided financial support to the families of 173 injured
and 690 deceased migrant workers, and paid to repatriate 535
workers, an increase from 216 workers in the previous year.
FEBP may also repatriate unregistered migrant workers by
requesting funds through the finance ministry on an ad hoc
basis. It is unknown if unregistered workers were repatriated
during the reporting period.

PREVENTION
The government maintained efforts to prevent human trafficking.
The government continued to conduct training and coordination
sessions with officials from the district committees for controlling
human trafficking (DCCHTs) to clarify responsibilities in the
implementation of the 2012-2022 national action plan. The
NCCHT allocated approximately 98,900 NPR ($910) to each
of the 75 DCCHTs to support awareness campaigns, meeting
expenses, and emergency victim services. This marked a decrease
from the 250,400 NPR ($2,304) allocated last fiscal year. The
government, with partial funding from a foreign government,
continued to establish local committees for controlling human
trafficking (LCCHTs). As of December 2016, 420 LCCHTs were
in operation. Observers continued to note the need for improved
coordination between the NCCHT, DCCHTs, and LCCHTs. The
government conducted and participated in public awareness
campaigns throughout the country, including a week-long series
of street plays, programs for media, and workshops in September
2016. During the week MWCSW issued awards to four journalists
for their coverage of human trafficking. The police continued to
implement post-2015 earthquake orders to maintain vigilance
against human trafficking of women and children in displaced
persons camps, border crossings, and transportation hubs. In
nine districts, special committees continued to monitor the
adult entertainment sector for abuses. Observers stated their
effectiveness was limited, however, due to a lack of funding and
legislation to establish the committees’ formal role. MWCSW
issued its fourth report on the government’s anti-trafficking
efforts, and the National Human Rights Commission’s Office of
the Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Women and Children
issued its seventh report on human trafficking.
The government’s 2015 labor migration guidelines include a policy requiring foreign employers to pay for visa and
transportation costs for Nepali migrant workers bound for
Malaysia and the Gulf states and restrict agency-charged
recruitment fees to 10,000 NPR ($92). Both NGOs and
government officials noted enforcement of this policy was
difficult and reported employment agencies regularly charged
migrant workers for visa and transportation costs and fees
above the 10,000 NPR limit. In July 2016 DFE revoked the
licenses of more than 400 agents located outside of Kathmandu,
reportedly to reduce the exploitation of migrant workers. In
May 2016 the government formally lifted the suspension on
all exit permits for female domestic work and lowered the age
limit from 30 to 24 years for domestic worker migration to the
Gulf states while simultaneously instituting a migration ban
for mothers with children under age two. Observers continued
to argue any ban on female migration increased the likelihood
such women would migrate illegally and therefore heightened
their vulnerability to human trafficking. The government did
not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex
acts or forced labor. The government provided anti-trafficking
training for all Nepali peacekeeping forces before deployment
and for its diplomatic personnel. Nepal is not a party to the
2000 UN TIP Protocol. During the reporting period, however,
the government-funded an NGO to study the costs of acceding
to the protocol.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE
As reported over the past five years, Nepal is a source, transit, and
destination country for men, women, and children subjected
to forced labor and sex trafficking. Nepali women and girls are
subjected to sex trafficking in Nepal, India, the Middle East,
Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Nepali men, women, and children
are subjected to forced labor in Nepal, India, the Middle East,
and Asia in construction, factories, mines, domestic work,
and begging. Manpower agencies or individual employment
brokers who engage in fraudulent recruitment practices and
impose high fees may facilitate forced labor. Unregistered
migrants—including the large number of Nepalis who travel
through India or rely on unregistered recruiting agents—are
particularly vulnerable to forced labor and sex trafficking.
Some Nepali women who agree to arranged marriages through
Nepali companies to men in China and South Korea may
experience fraud and be vulnerable to domestic servitude in
which their freedom of movement is restricted. Some migrants
from Bangladesh and possibly other countries transit Nepal
en route to employment in the Middle East, using potentially
falsified Nepali travel documents, and may be subjected to
human trafficking. Some government officials reportedly accept
bribes to include false information in Nepali identity documents
or provide fraudulent documents to prospective labor migrants,
a tactic used by unscrupulous recruiters to evade recruitment
regulations. Within Nepal, bonded labor exists in agriculture,
brick kilns, the stone-breaking industry, and domestic work.
Sex trafficking of Nepali women and girls increasingly takes
place in private apartments, rented rooms, guest houses, and
restaurants. Nepali and Indian children are subjected to forced
labor in the country, especially in domestic work, brick kilns, and
the embroidered textile, or zari, industry. Under false promises
of education and work opportunities, Nepali parents give
their children to brokers who instead take them to frequently
unregistered children’s homes in urban locations, where they
are forced to pretend to be orphans to garner donations from
tourists and volunteers; some of the children are also forced
to beg on the street. Many Nepalis, including children, whose
home or livelihood was destroyed by the 2015 earthquakes continue to be vulnerable to trafficking. Traffickers increasingly
utilize social media and mobile technologies to lure and
deceive their victims.

SOURCES:
Trafficking in Persons Report 2017
Country Narratives: N-S
2016: https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/countries/2016/258829.htm

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