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Severe penalties for human trafficking: minister

india Updated: Sep 19, 2007 02:44 IST

India will impose "severe and exemplary" penalties on those indulging in human trafficking and launch a nationwide awareness campaign on the risks of illegal migration, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said on Tuesday.

Major amendments would be effected to the Emigration Act of 1983 to introduce a provision to prevent "human smuggling", Ravi said.

"We are going to make the penalties for those who indulge in such crime severe and exemplary," he said while delivering the inaugural address at the consultation meeting of the National Media Coalition against trafficking.

Over 100 journalists from across the country, besides civil society activists and UN agencies participated in the meeting.

"In the next few weeks, we will launch a nationwide awareness campaign on the risks of illegal immigration," Ravi said, adding: "It must be remembered that illegal immigrants are most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse."

In this context, Ravi pointed out that his ministry's effort "has been to transform international migration into an efficient, transparent, orderly and humane process and at the same time to actively discourage and prevent illegal migration".

He also contended that a more equitable global development process will help combat the scourge of human trafficking and other associated trans-national crimes.

"We need to make globalisation and its benefits more inclusive. This simply means giving millions of people around the globe the hope that they have an opportunity to improve their quality of life," Ravi said.

"At the heart of the discourse on combating the scourge of human trafficking and other associated trans-national crimes is the need to make the global development process more equitable," he added.

Ravi noted that despite recent prospects of rapid economic growth in some of the highly populated developing countries, "the economic divergence between the rich and the poor countries is wider today than at any time in human history.

"Quite simply, we need to address the problem of a world profoundly divided between the haves and the have-nots. Indeed, those of us in government as also those in civil society must meet the challenge of inclusive development by which all people have access to a better quality of life - the challenge of the greater good of the greater numbers," the minister maintained.