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Saturday, 9 February 2013

Police officers run human trafficking cartel



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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 AHRC-STM-036-2013
February 7, 2013

 A Statement from the Asian Human Rights Commission

INDIA: Police officers run human trafficking cartel

28 police officers from the Kerala State police are accused of
running a human trafficking cartel in the state. This felonious
syndicate run by police officers is linked with international
criminal cartels that supply women, children, and men. It is
estimated that about 300 victims have been trafficked out of
India by this criminal gang.
 
Officers directly linked with human trafficking belong to all
ranks, like Superintendent of Police, Deputy Superintendents,
Circle Inspectors, Sub Inspectors and constables. This gang
has been in operation for at least the past six years and many
among them were stationed at the Kochi International Airport,
exclusively responsible for immigration clearance of travellers.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has consistently opined
that the single largest impediment to internal security in India is the
country's police unless drastic measures are taken to refine the police.
The above incident is the latest proof to AHRC's assertion, in the form
of confession of one of the police officers charged with the offence,
Mr. A. P. Ajeeb.

The Kerala state police have been adamant so far that it must be the
agency entrusted with the responsibility of immigration control at the
Kochi International Airport. This important airport in India, is one
of the exceptional places where the state police runs the immigration
processes. In most other international terminals in India, the Central
Intelligence Bureau (IB) operates the immigration wing. Police
officers accused of criminal activities in the international terminal
at Kochi airport is not a new phenomenon.

For instance, there have been cases in the past where police
officers stationed in immigration counters at Kochi are
accused of allowing persons to enter or exit the country
without recording it in their travel documents.
 
On each such occasion, even if the matter was reported in the local
media, it would soon be internally hushed up and nothing heard
any further. Not surprisingly, Deputy Superintendent of Police,
Mr. N. V. Somarajan, who investigated the human trafficking case
initially, is also part of the criminal syndicate. This too is revealed
in Ajeeb's confession.

This case has all the footprints of the decayed policing system
in India. It is a practice in India for the police officers to be
entrusted with jobs that they are not expected, equipped, or trained
to do. One may argue that the police in India is neither equipped nor
trained to undertake law-enforcement as required in a fast developing
democracy. In fact, such performance is not expected of the police,
since the national policing policy, is to forcefully impart the writ
of those in power, for which the police is encouraged to use brute
force with impunity.

For this, rules are negated, even at the risk of national security,
just as it is reported in the Kochi incident. It is nothing less
than a sign of anarchy in governance and polices, that today,
police is the least accountable and its policies absolutely
non-transparent in the country.

An additional symptom of the anarchy is in the practice of the police
investigating allegations against the police. With what figment of
trust could Indians expect their police, notorious for committing
crimes, to be honest and professional in investigating crimes
alleged against them? The very concept lacks both honesty and
is unprofessional. It is just that both the police and the government
fail to admit it. The statement by one of the linchpin in the human
trafficking network that operated in Kerala affirms this assumption.

That be so, the additional question that is to be asked is why did then
the government, and the then Director General of Police allow the
case to be investigated by a relatively low-ranking officer, a Deputy
Superintendent of Police? What prevented the state government from
requesting for assistance from the central government or of its
agencies to undertake an investigation? On the other hand, is it so
that both the governments as well as the police are complicit in
allowing the police to get away with crimes they commit? The logical
answer to these questions should be nothing less than an emphatic yes.

The Kochi human trafficking incident brings forth the following
questions:

(i) Persons of questionable backgrounds, unsafe to be entering or
leaving India could have passed through the Kochi International
Airport with the knowledge of police officers who were stationed
at the airport, with no other mandate, but to prevent it. The state
government, its police or the central government have no means
to know who these people are and when and where they have went,
irrespective of whether they travelled into the country or out of it;

(ii) There is no way to trace the victims of human trafficking, since
many must have left on fake documents. So far, the government has
not attempted to trace the victims. The government is extremely
handicapped in this since it has no trustworthy records to depend upon
to trace the victims' identities internally, nor can the government
request any foreign governments for information since it does not know
who came from where and went where;

(iii) The investigations so far have revealed huge sums of money
being transferred between accounts of private individuals, police
officers of various ranks, and their relatives. Will the government be
able to recover this money from the officers? So far, there has been
no attempt in this direction;

(iv) Above all, what immediate action has the government done, now
that such a serious crime has been unearthed? Would there be actions
taken by the government to bring accountability in police actions?;

(v) Are the officers named, their actions specified in the confession
statement placed on suspension?

Unfortunately, in India none of this is possible. This is why it is
justified in saying that law enforcement in India is nothing more than
uniformed anarchy. No state or its people will be secure with such a
police force. India is no exception.

 Read this statement online
<http://www.humanrights.asia/news/ahrc-news/AHRC-STM-036-2013>
 # # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional
non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia,
documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional
reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The
Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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