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Conviction for human trafficking made possible through video-conference testimony

MUMBAI- Today Additional Sessions Judge M.B. Datye, of the Sessions Court at Greater Mumbai, sentenced two perpetrators to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and 11,000INR fine under Section 370 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.

The male and female accused were arrested after the rescue operation conducted on 31 January 2014, by the DB Marg Police, based on information provided by International Justice Mission. The male and female accused had been providing two young victims, including one minor to customers for the purpose of Commercial Sexual Exploitation at Jamuna Mansion on Grant Road. Then Senior Police Inspector, Ajit Surve served as the Special Police Officer, on the rescue after receiving information about a minor victim. The victims were 17 years and 20 years at the time of rescue, and had been trafficked from Bangladesh to Mumbai through an organised network.

The trial proceedings before the Sessions Court began only in 2015, after the repatriation of both the girls. When the time came for the victim to testify before the court it seemed impossible for the police to bring her back to India. The Code of Criminal Procedure in India however makes it possible for depositions to be recorded before a court through video conference under Section 273. Judge Datye accepted the application of the Additional Public Prosecutor, Mr. Sunil Gonzalves, to have the victim witnesses depose before the court through video. The Police additionally requested the assistance of Rights Jessore, an Anti-Trafficking organisation in Bangladesh to make arrangements for the victim to testify without having to leave her country.

On 6 June 2017, the minor victim in the case deposed before the Court through video conference, she identified and implicated the accused in the case as her traffickers. This testimony along with the witness testimonies were relied on as evidence against the accused.

“This case was one where the Pairavhi Officer, PSI Kadam, from the Police Station followed the case closely in order to ensure the legal procedures were followed to make the victim testimony possible through video conferencing. It was a good example of how the Public Justice System can work together with NGOs to bring justice to victims of sex trafficking,” said watching Advocate Joanita Britto.

Through the video-conference testimony the minor victim was able ensure that the perpetrators were punished for their crimes. Additionally, the judge ordered for compensation of 5,000INR to be awarded to each victim. The strong sentencing by Judge Datye makes for ending impunity among traffickers. Thanks to police intervention, the minor victim, now 20 years, has returned to her home in Bangladesh and works at a beauty parlour in a city near her village.

This judgement marks 101 convictions achieved through IJM’s assistance to the Public Justice System.

Contact: Joanita Britto - jbritto@ijm.org