Trial through Video Conferencing organised in West Bengal

I identified the lady who had trafficked me on the computer screen. I wasn’t scared at all. She kept me confined in her house. She allowed several strangers to exploit me without mercy. Now I am determined to see her behind bars.

Victims of human trafficking face herculean challenges in summoning up the courage to present themselves in a court of law. *Fariya, from Bangladesh testified through video conferencing.

Fariya a minor from Bangladesh was rescued from Sonagachi in Kolkata, in 2011. She was brought to India by her lover, Lablu, who had convinced her on the pretext of marriage. “He took me to Basirhat, where we stayed in Archana Dey’s house. I was sold to a lady named Archana Dey, who took me to Sonagachi, a red light area in Kolkata.

With the help of another Bangladeshi lady, Fariya contacted her brother in Narial- District of Bangladesh. Subsequently, she was rescued by Kolkata Police on 12th September 2011. Later in 2012 Fariya was repatriated to her home country.

When Fariya testified against her trafficker, she spoke from hundreds of kilometers away from Kolkata, via video conferencing. She had instantly recognised Archana Dey on the computer screen. “I identified the lady who had trafficked me on the computer screen. I wasn’t scared at all. She kept me confined in her house. She allowed several strangers to exploit me without mercy. Now I am determined to see her behind bars”, said Fariya.

The testimony of Fariya was recorded was organised by Fast Track Court Judge Moumita Bhattacharya, the Public Prosecutor and the Defence lawyer. Rights Jessore, an anti-trafficking organisation in Bangladesh made the necessary arrangements for Fariya to testify in Bangladesh. Fariya was accompanied by the District Magistrate of Narial during the video conferencing.

“The usage of technology has opened a new channel in ensuring access to justice for repatriated victims of sex trafficking, especially from Bangladesh. Video conference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy to coordinate beyond borders. India is one among the few countries globally that has started this trial,” said Saji Philip, Director of Operations, IJM Kolkata.

This is the second video conferencing trial that IJM India has supported across national borders. IJM Mumbai had supported a similar video conference in 2016.