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South Asia

Regional Police Honour IJM for Combatting Bonded Labour and Human Trafficking

CHENNAI, INDIA – On 7 March 2022, the Vellore Range police department presented IJM with an award to “recognise the diligent efforts taken to eradicate the bonded labour system” in the state of Tamil Nadu and to publicly honour IJM as a credible partner in the fight against human trafficking.

The Vellore Range region covers four districts in the northern part of Tamil Nadu state (Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupathur, and Ranipet). IJM and our partners have helped the government combat bonded labour in this area since the early 2000s, working closely with these police units to rescue more than 1,400 victims and to hold perpetrators accountable.

This first-of-its-kind award was presented at a special event by Dr. Annie Vijaya IPS, the Deputy Inspector General of Police—one of the highest-ranking law enforcement officials in Vellore Range. IJM has partnered with Dr. Vijaya on numerous projects to protect the community, including an awareness campaign on violence against women and children.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police presents a special award to Merlin Freeda, IJM’s Director of Operations in Chennai. At the award event, more than 100 police officers were trained on strategies to combat human trafficking.

One IJM staff member shared joyfully

“In comparison to the early stages of our attempts to establish a relationship with police, this is a remarkable change. Today, police officials work alongside us, view us as experts on the subjects of human trafficking and bonded labour, invite us to train newly recruited officers and partner with us on the mission to eradicate bonded labour in Tamil Nadu.”

At the event, more than 100 police officials were trained on strategies to combat human trafficking in India. The DIG also formally launched a months-long awareness-raising campaign called “Udhayam Project,” which included a special campaign vehicle and participation from a survivor-led theatre troupe, run by the Released Bonded Labourers Association (RBLA). This campaign will help create awareness and provide support to people living in vulnerable communities across Vellore Range.

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