The SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children and SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia were signed on 5 January 2002 during the Eleventh SAARC Summit (Kathmandu, 4-6 January 2002).
These Conventions call for cooperation amongst Member States in dealing with various aspects of prevention, interdiction and suppression of trafficking in women and children for prostitution, and repatriation and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking.
After ratification by all the Member States, the two Conventions entered into force on 15 November 2005. Pursuant to the ratification of the two Conventions, a Regional Task Force (RTF) was constituted by the SAARC Member States to particularly monitor and assess the implementation of various provisions of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution.
The First Meeting of the Regional Task Force (RTF) to implement the SAARC Conventions relating to Trafficking in Women and Children and Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia was held on 26 July 2007 in New Delhi, India. The RTF has been meeting annually since then.
The 4th RTF was held in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2011 and on discussing the concept note prepared by Bangladesh on elaboration of the existing SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for prostitution, difficulties from the legal and technical points of views were noted. As such, Bangladesh offered to develop a new concept note on the way forward in dealing with matters relating to Trafficking in Persons (TIP).
The Meeting also discussed on the establishment of Toll Free Helplines and the decision to organize a meeting for two Focal Points (one National Focal Point from relevant Ministry/ Government Organization dealing with women and children issues and one Technical Focal Point from relevant Ministry/Government Organization) for the Toll Free Helpline Project from 19-20 December 2011 in New Delhi, India.
At the same meeting, the Royal Government of Bhutan also made a provisional offer to host the 5th RTF meeting in Bhutan.
The Fifth Meeting of the RTF is, therefore, being hosted by the Royal Government of Bhutan in Paro from April 11-12, 2013. The Meeting will review the progress of the implementation of SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution and Promotion of Child Welfare in South Asia by the Member States, discuss on broadening the scope of the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution, and deliberate on matters relating to the establishment of Toll Free Helplines for women and children.
The Meeting is being convened at the Tashi Namgay Resort, Paro and it will be attended by Delegates from the eight SAARC Member States and officials from the SAARC Secretariat. The Meeting will be opened by Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs Lyonpo Minjur Dorji, as the Chief Guest and dignitaries from the Government ministries/agencies, Local Government and Development agencies will be present.