युक्ती हीने विचारे तु धर्महानि प्रजायते

Awareness Programme: Safe Migration to End Labour Trafficking

The Centre for Law and Social Justice, WBNUJS, organised its second awareness programme on safe migration on 9th February of 2024 from 2:45 PM- 5:.30 PM at the WBNUJS Campus in Room No. 107.

The theme of the session was, “Safe Migration to End labour trafficking”. The program was presided over by Chief Guest Shri Jyotirmoy Bhattacharya, Hon’ble Chief Justice (Retd.), High Court at Calcutta & Chairperson of West Bengal Human Rights Commission, other eminent guest includes Smt. Manisha Bhattacharya (Director of State Labour institute, Government of West Bengal) and Shri Saptarshi Biswas (State program Director IJM, West Bengal). The objective of the programme was multifaced- promote critical thinking, raise awareness about the persisting social evil of unsafe migration resulting to trafficking, empower the students, advocacy and activism and lastly encourage research and innovation.

Prof Sanjit K. Chakraborty has inaugurated the event in presence of Honorable Registrar of WBNUJS Mr. Raja Chakraborty by a greeting message to all the eminent guests, dignitaries and other attendees of the event. Thereafter Prof Sanjit K. Chakarborty has felicitated the distinguished guests, Honorable registrar and respected Prof Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan with sapling symbolizing hope and memento.

Prof Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan has started the discussion by giving an insight about the Global Slavery Index published by an Australian Organisation. There after Prof Khan entails that even after seventy years of independence, with constitutional mandate under A-23 prohibiting trafficking; India witnesses’ large number of trafficking. The annual report; published by UNODC by virtue of legislative mandate under the USA domestic legislation- Trafficking Victim’s Protection Act (TVPA); has placed India amongst the countries witnessing the most trafficking. The discussion was carried forward by Shri Jotirmoy Bhattacharya by critical appraisal of Bonded Labour System (Abolition Act),1976. Justice Bhattacharya elucidated some special attributes of the legislation (Bonded Labour System (Abolition Act),1976) – the retrospective implementation, the social beneficial objectives and differential role of the implementing court and trial court prescribed under the statute. The following discussion focused on how the bonded labour system works in various facets, including the issue of the unorganised sector and migrant workers. There was a detailed discussion on the provisions of the legislation and Justice has given special emphasis on relinquishment of liabilities of bonded debt under any bonded labour system. Justice (Retired) Bhattacharya concludes his speech by suggesting some real time solutions to achieve the purpose of the legislation. He states that it is important to identify the bonded labourer (mostly found in brisk factory, rice mill, jute factory etc), maintain registry and record of the bonded labourers is utmost importance to provide benefits under existing schemes.

In order to extend the knowledge regarding the elements of the bonded labour system, this seminar created an awareness of how unsafe migration leads to labour trafficking. Thereafter Smt. Manisha Bhattacharya, Director of State Labour Institute, Govt. Of West Bengal briefly enumerates the role of State Labour organizations in implementing numerous schemes proposed by both central and state government. The speaker states that the ILO Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour has identified 11 Indicators of Forced Labour. The indicators are intended to help ‘front-line’ criminal law enforcement officials, labour inspectors, trade union officers, NGO workers and others to identify persons who are possibly trapped in a forced labour situation, and who may require urgent assistance. The indicators represent the most common signs or ‘clues’ that point to the possible existence of a forced labour case. The indicators are: Abuse of vulnerability; Deception; Restriction of movement; Isolation; Physical and sexual violence; Intimidation and threats; Retention of identity documents; Withholding of wages; Debt bondage; Abusive working and living conditions; Excessive overtime. The recent endeavour by the state government to register the details of migrant worker in an online portal has been very successful as the director of State Labour Institute entails that within two months of opening of the portal, as many as 20 lakhs of labours have registered themselves in the online portal.  The last speaker of the event was Mr. Saptarshi Biswas who has narrated one real life incident of Human Trafficking whereby the para legal volunteers played a significant role in identification, rescue rehabilitation and restoration of one minor victim. Shri Biswas has put special emphasis on the role of para legal volunteers as intermediaries bridging the gap between the common people and the Legal Services Institutions to remove impediments in access to justice.

This awareness seminar gave the students an opportunity to understand the ongoing deliberations and find solutions to the challenges that are bothering this discourse. The session was attended by the BA-LLB(H), LLM, Research Scholars and Faculty Members of WBNUJS and LLM students of Amity University, Kolkata. The session ended with a vote of thanks given by Prof Dr Sarfaraz Ahmed Khan, and he concludes the event by citing the Sanskrit quote Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam– which means the world is one family and states that to achieve the dignity and ensure liberation of the marginalised migrant worker the Vedic values and inclusive outlook should prevail amongst the administrators, forward groups across globe.

Centre for Law and Social Justice
WBNUJS, Kolkata

Event Poster