Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta, on Friday, urged member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally to effectively eliminate the crime of trafficking in persons, especially women and children. The Government of India is committed to address the problem of trafficking in human beings as a high priority item which is reflected in various legislations and policy documents, Mehta said.

Mehta spoke this while hosting the Nineteenth Meeting of Prosecutors General of the SCO via video conference mode. The Solicitor General said that the country is concerned with such crime and has taken many steps to eliminate it and has ratified UN Conventions over the issue.

"Government of India is concerned with the problem of trafficking of persons especially in women and children and recognizes that measures must be taken to prevent it, to punish the traffickers and to assist and protect the victims of such trafficking, including protecting their human rights. Recognizing that in order to deter traffickers and bring them to justice, it is necessary to give priority to investigation and prosecution of traffickers and protect the victims of such offenses," Mehta said in the event attended by the top prosecutors of the member countries.

"Believing that trafficking of persons is a national as well as a transnational crime, criminals work across boundaries, there is a need to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally to effectively eliminate this crime," Solicitor General said.

"As part of activities of this forum, I urge my fellow colleagues and their countries to cooperate bilaterally and multilaterally to effectively eliminate this crime. India has been contributing substantively to enhance the role of SCO in the international arena by sharing its experiences. Let us work together to widen the spectrum of activities being undertaken in this forum in particular and SCO in general," he added

The top government lawyer noted that, internationally, India has ratified United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others which declares that prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person and endanger the welfare of the individual, the family and the community.

In May, 2011, India ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNCTOC) and its three protocols one of which is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Mehta said during his speech.

Tushar Mehta also highlighted that, at the South Asia level, India is a party to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution which promotes cooperation amongst Member States so that they may effectively deal with the various aspects of prevention, interdiction and suppression of trafficking in women and children. Moreover, the repatriation and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking and prevent the use of women and children in international prostitution networks, particularly where the countries of the SAARC region are the countries of origin, transit and destination.

While highlighting various laws in the country to prevent trafficking and welfare schemes being implemented by the Government of India, Mehta said, "Human trafficking poses a serious challenge to the development of the human potential and pushes millions to poverty, penury and suffering. Around 161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking. We should all work together to eliminate this curse from our countries".

In the Nineteenth Meeting of Prosecutors General of the SCO, Member States deliberated on strengthening cooperation in preventing and combating the growing threat of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, exchange of information and best practices in the field of laws. The cooperation amongst the educational training institutions and anti-trafficking bodies of the SCO Member state was also discussed.

Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mr. GD Nurdauletov, Prosecutor General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate of the People's Republic of China, Mr. Zhang Jun, First Deputy Prosecutor General of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr. A. Moldokmatov, Attorney General of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Ch. Amir Rehman, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Mr. Krasnov Igor Viktorovich, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Tajikistan, Rahmon Yusuf Ahmadzod, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr. Yuldashev Nigmatilla Tulkinovich, Secretary General of the SCO Mr. Norov V.I. and Director of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure Mr. Giyosov D.F. have attended the meeting.