VIMUKTHI’s report indicates shocking gaps in compensation for Trafficking victims in Andhra Pradesh

VIMUKTHI is a collective of survivors of sex trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation and women in prostitution, based in Andhra Pradesh with linkages to likeminded CBOs and NGOs. The collective advocates for the social entitlements of sex workers and rescued survivors of sex trafficking, also enabling them to avail criminal justice services including victim/witness protection services, rehabilitation, and immediate relief support and victim compensation. The collective undertakes a range of activities, from community-level initiatives to state-level support, to facilitate socio-economic empowerment of survivors and preventing the trafficking of the second generation.

As per the Crime in India Report, 2022 of National Crime Records Bureau, 2,250 cases of Human Trafficking have been registered by AHTUs of States/UTs during 2022. The highest number of the cases have been registered in Telangana (391 cases), Maharashtra (295 cases), and Bihar (260 cases). In Andhra Pradesh, 294 human trafficking cases were reported in the year 2022. In the last three years, 2020-2022, a total of 866 cases of human trafficking were reported in Andhra Pradesh. Out of this, 830 cases were trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.

The Andhra Pradesh Victim Compensation Scheme, 2015 is presently being implemented. The scheme provides for eligibility criteria, manner of filing application and the procedure that the legal services authorities need to follow to assess and decide the applications.

The collective prepared and compiled this report in order to present a scenario of the current situation of implementation of victim compensation in the State. The collective had filed RTIs with 13 District Legal Service Authorities to seek information about victim compensation provided to survivors of human trafficking, POCSO and other crimes from FY 2016-17 to 2022-23. Assessment of first-hand experiences of survivors of human trafficking was also undertaken while preparing the report.

The objective of seeking this information was to research the allocation and utilization of funds; identify implementation challenges; and analyse the victim compensation provided to different categories of survivors. Based on the RTI replies from 12 District Legal Services Authorities, the following observations were made-

  • None of the DLSAs had provided victim compensation to the survivors of human trafficking. Only in one district, 5 applications filed individually by the survivors of human trafficking were decided by the DLSA.
  • None of the DLSAs received recommendation from any Court of Law for providing compensation to survivors of human trafficking. This highlighted a significant gap in judicial awareness regarding the grant of victim compensation.
  • From FY 2016-17 to 2022-23, there were a total of 505 applications received by DLSAs covering all kinds of crimes. Out of these 505 applications, 343 were filed for POCSO survivors, 5 for human trafficking survivors and 157 for other crimes. This included applications filed in individual capacity and recommendations from the Court.
  • The 5 applications filed by human trafficking survivors were shown as decided, however, none of the survivors had received any victim compensation amount.

In view of these serious concerns about the implementation of the victim compensation scheme for human trafficking survivors, the following recommendations are made-

1. The shelter home, NGOs, legal aid lawyer, police officer should inform the survivor and the family about the victim compensation scheme and the steps to be taken to receive compensation.

2. In inter-state cases, DLSAs should take efforts to call for records and official translation of documents from the other States necessary for awarding compensation.

3. All states should adopt a standard and a uniform guideline for assessment of applications and disbursal of amount. This would minimize the arbitrary discretion being exercised currently by the authorities.

4. There is also a need to have a compensation computation formula which gives the survivors a chance to understand on what basis the quantum of compensation was awarded.

5. DLSAs should play a central role in making survivors aware of their legal rights including victim compensation through awareness programmes and also hold capacity building workshops for legal aid lawyers and para-legal volunteers.

6. SLSAs must monitor the activities of DLSAs at regular time intervals. NALSA must collect regular reports from the SLSAs on victim compensation claims disbursed for various offences.

7. There is a need for sensitization of police about anti trafficking laws from time to time.

About HELP:

HELP is a voluntary organisation mentoring VIMUKTHI (A State level forum of sex workers and survivors of trafficking) in its mission for socio-economic empowerment of sex workers and survivors of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. HELP is working over two decades for the prevention of human trafficking and also protection and welfare of women and children in vulnerable conditions in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

For any clarifications please contact – Mr. Nimmaraju Ram Mohan @ 99497 23666 Mr Bhaskar – Programme Manager – HELP @ 9949688014