U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Nepal

Nepal (Tier 2)

Nepal is a source country for girls and women trafficked to India for the purposes of forced prostitution, domestic servitude, forced labor, and work in circuses. Many victims trafficked to India are lured with promises of decent work or marriage. Other victims are sold by family members or kidnapped by traffickers. Women are trafficked to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf countries, as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for domestic servitude. Internal trafficking for forced labor and sexual exploitation also takes place. The Maoist insurgency continues to abduct and forcibly conscript children; since September 2003, it has abducted approximately 950 children.

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. Political instability and the armed Maoist insurgency, which now affects all parts of the country, prevented government efforts to combat trafficking in some areas. Several government coalitions have been unable to retain power; following the dissolution of parliament in May 2002, no elections have been held. As a result, draft legislation authorizing the prosecution of trafficking-related offenses remains in limbo, and the National Plan of Action has yet to be implemented. Passage of the draft legislation would further Nepal's fight against trafficking.


Nepal's law enforcement efforts against trafficking are limited due to continuing political instability and a severe lack of resources. Maoist insurgency activities have led to the withdrawal of police from most rural areas, and the number of reported investigations of trafficking decreased to 72. The Human Trafficking Control Act of 1986 criminalizes trafficking in persons, but the absence of a national legislature continues to delay enactment of comprehensive legislation. Prosecution of traffickers over the reporting period led to more stringent punishment being handed down. In June 2003, courts convicted seven Nepalis of trafficking over 100 victims to India, sentencing the ringleader to 75 years' imprisonment, while other members of the ring received sentences ranging from 12-36 years. In February 2004, a district court convicted a Nepali of selling his cousin to a brothel in India and sentenced him to a minimum of 15 years' imprisonment. NGO-assisted prosecutions resulted in enhanced penalties for traffickers. Cases brought by government attorneys have been far less successful.


The government provides limited funding to local NGOs to provide assistance with rehabilitation, medical care, and legal services. Directly and through district-level task forces, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) coordinates NGO provision of victim rehabilitation and assistance. Victims are not detained, jailed, or deported, nor are they prosecuted for violations of other crimes. Although the police lack a formal referral process, victims are often transferred to local NGOs.


The MWCSW, NGOs, and UNIFEM implemented a nationwide anti-trafficking information campaign including radio programs, booklets, pamphlets, and billboards. Village Vigilance Committees formed in high-risk districts help train local residents to recognize possible trafficking cases. Government-initiated income-generation projects were introduced in more than 3,900 villages, providing micro-credit loans and poverty alleviation for women. Under a 2003 government initiative, all workers traveling overseas for employment are required to attend an orientation session explaining worker rights, safety issues, and relevant regulations. The government established a labor office at the airport to provide similar assistance to foreign-bound workers.


This 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.