Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 16:29 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Nepal

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Nepal, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a2fc.html [accessed 23 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

NEPAL (Tier 2)

Nepal is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Children are trafficked within the country 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. NGOs cite a growing internal child sex tourism problem, with an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 girls trafficked from rural areas to Kathmandu for commercial sexual exploitation. In addition, the Nepalese Youth Foundation estimated that there are over 20,000 child indentured domestic workers in Nepal. Bonded labor also remains a significant problem in Nepal, affecting entire families forced into labor as land tillers or cattle herders. Nepali women are trafficked to India and to countries in the Middle East for commercial sexual exploitation. Men and women also migrate willingly from Nepal to Malaysia, Israel, South Korea, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Qatar, and other Gulf states to work as domestic servants, construction workers, or other low-skill laborers, but some subsequently face conditions of forced labor such as withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, deprivation of food and sleep, and physical or sexual abuse. A number of these workers are subjected to debt bondage produced in part by fraud and high recruitment fees charged by unscrupulous agents in Nepal. Despite a ban imposed by the Government of Nepal, some Nepalis are deceived and trafficked into forced labor in Iraq through the U.A.E. and Kuwait.

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. This year, Nepal passed a comprehensive anti-trafficking law criminalizing all forms of trafficking. The government also raised public awareness on trafficking for both forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation.

Recommendations for Nepal: Enforce newly enacted anti-trafficking legislation and increase law enforcement efforts against all types of trafficking, including bonded labor, forced child labor, fraudulent labor recruitment for the purpose of forced labor, and sex trafficking; increase law enforcement efforts against government officials who are complicit in trafficking; institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking and refer them to protection services to ensure that they are not punished for unlawful acts committed as a result of their being trafficked; and improve protection services available for victims of labor forms of trafficking. In order to effectively implement the new legislation and its provisions for victim compensation, the government needs to put in place more effective tracking mechanisms for both sex and labor trafficking cases.

Prosecution

Nepal made progress in its efforts to enforce laws against trafficking. In July 2007, the Government of Nepal enacted a comprehensive anti-trafficking law – the Trafficking in Persons and Transportation (Control) Act (TPTA), which prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons and prescribes penalties ranging from 10 to 20 years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape. In August, Nepal also enacted a new Foreign Employment Act, which criminalizes the acts of both agencies and individuals sending workers abroad based on false promises and without the proper documentation. Chapter 9, titled "Crime and Punishment," defines fraudulent labor trafficking and prescribes penalties of three to seven years' imprisonment for those convicted. Nepali law also formally prohibits bonded labor, but does not prescribe penalties for violators. In 2007, Nepal filed 111 criminal cases for deceptive recruitment practices that contribute to trafficking for forced labor, including 10 against manpower agencies and 101 against individual labor recruiters. In addition, in 2007, the Women's Cells in 24 districts and NGOs nationwide filed a total of 262 criminal cases against trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation in district courts throughout the country. The Attorney General's report, dated January 2008, states that 14 new cases were filed with the Supreme Court during the reporting period, and 13 cases were decided resulting in four convictions and nine acquittals. Serious concerns remain, regarding the prominent role complicit government officials play in trafficking; local NGOs report that police facilitate trafficking through bribes, yet the government did not report significant law enforcement efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, or sufficiently sentence these officials complicit in trafficking. It is critical for the Government of Nepal to take serious and proactive efforts to investigate and punish this trafficking complicity.

Protection

Nepal made modest efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the reporting period. The TPTA includes provisions for assistance to Nepali citizens trafficked abroad, the establishment of rehabilitation centers to provide medical treatment, counseling, reintegration assistance for victims of trafficking, and the creation of a rehabilitation fund to finance protection services to trafficking victims. These provisions, however, have not been implemented due to lack of resources. The government, through the Women's Cells, actively encourages sex trafficking victims to participate in investigations against their traffickers, but lacks sufficient resources to ensure their personal safety; as such, victims are reluctant to testify. Law enforcement officers do not employ formal procedures to identify victims of trafficking from among vulnerable groups, such as women arrested for prostitution. As a result, victims are likely arrested and fined for acts committed as a result of being trafficked. It is of particular concern that Nepali police do not attempt to determine the age or consent of women and girls arrested in massage parlors, dance bars, and cabin restaurants where trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation is a significant and growing problem. Foreign victims are not offered legal alternatives to removal to countries in which they may face hardship or retribution. The government does not provide victim protection services for men and women trafficked abroad for involuntary servitude.

Prevention

Nepal sustained its efforts to prevent trafficking in persons throughout the reporting period. The Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare provided small grants to task forces in 26 high-risk districts to raise awareness and mobilize communities against trafficking. The Office of the National Rapporteur for Trafficking also launched a television and radio campaign to raise awareness of trafficking. In 2007, the Ministry of Labor and Transport Management established a "safe migration" desk at the airport; to avoid screening, however, many victims were trafficked by land across the porous Indian border. To reduce demand for commercial sex acts, the government prescribed a penalty of one to three months' imprisonment for brothel customers. Although the Nepal Tourism Board agreed to amend the language in its website advertisement for "Wild Stag Weekends," it did so only after widespread international condemnation of the promotion. To date, the government has done little to prevent the exploitation of minors in the growing domestic sex industry, or to institute a public awareness campaign targeting nationals traveling to known sex tourism destinations. Nepal has not ratified the 2000 U.N. TIP Protocol.

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