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PM Modi to attend Nuclear Security Summit, reaches US

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Washington, DC: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Washington, DC early Thursday to attend the two-day Nuclear Security Summit where world leaders from over 50 countries are expected to share their assessment of the threat from nuclear weapons and materials.

During his two-day stay in Washington,DC, Modi is scheduled to interact with a number of world leaders including the US President Barack Obama.

Attending the Nuclear Security Summit for the first time, Modi is expected to lay out his vision of securing nuclear weapons.

This is Modi’s third visit to the US and second to Washington since becoming prime minister in 2014.

In September 2014, Modi visited US and had a meeting with Obama at the White House. He made his second trip to the US a year later which took him to New York and Silicon Valley.

While the details of his schedule in Washington have not been released yet, the prime minister is expected to hold a series of meetings throughout the day, which range from bilaterals with heads of state to community leaders, to scientists and top executives from the corporate world.

Modi is scheduled to hold a meeting with Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key later on Thursday and meet with scientists from Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory.

Even as he has no public engagement with the Indian American community, which has been a trademark of his overseas trips, a large number of Indian Americans from in and around Washington said they would be standing outside his hotel, despite tight security, to get a glimpse of Modi.

The official summit engagement of the prime minister would begin in the evening when he would drive down to the White House to attend a dinner hosted by Obama in honour of the world leaders attending the fourth Nuclear Security Summit.

No Modi-Obama bilateral meeting has been announced yet from either side, but the two leaders are expected to get multiple opportunities for interaction and talks over the next two days.

“The summit would deliberate on the crucial issue of threat to nuclear security caused by nuclear terrorism. Leaders would discuss ways and measure through which to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture, especially to ensure that non-state actors do not get access to nuclear material,” Modi had said in a statement before leaving on the current three-nation tour of Belgium, the US and Saudi Arabia.

Joint Secretary (Disarmament & International Security Affairs) Amandeep Singh Gill said during the summit India’s written National Progress Report would be circulated at the summit.

The prime minister would intervene in this discussion on national actions to underline some of the important measures we have taken to strengthen nuclear security.

“India expects that the summit would contribute further to raising high level awareness of the threat of nuclear terrorism and the need to strengthen international cooperation against terrorists and nuclear traffickers,” Gill said.

“We also expect that the summit would help bolster legal, institutional and enforcement measures to strengthen the security of nuclear material, radioactive sources, associated facilities and technologies,” he said.

Credits: Rediif news

 

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Across Asia’s Borders, Survivors Of Human Trafficking, Dial in for Justice

The trial has been ongoing since 2013

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Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India.
Tara Khokon Miya is seen in her village home in Shipur, Bangladesh, Feb. 26, 2018. She is helping to prepare her 27-year-old daughter to testify via videoconferencing technology against the men who trafficked her to India. VOA

When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.

The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.

“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”

“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.

Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women

and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.

Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.

“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”

But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.

“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.

Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.

Students Combat Human Trafficking
Students Combat Human Trafficking, flickr

‘Unpardonable’

Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.

“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.

“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”

The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.

“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.

India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.

“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.

“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”

Silencing Victims
Silencing Victims, pixabay

The future

Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.

“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”

The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.

Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.

Also read: Imagining Panun Kashmir: Dissent And Detente in South Asia

“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)