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High Court upholds Thimphu District Court’s judgment sentencing women involved in human trafficking case

Of the 30 suspects involved in trafficking 200 Bhutanese women to Iraq and Oman a few years ago, six individuals, all women, have been convicted so far. Three of the six convicts appealed to the High Court. The High Court upheld the Thimphu District Court’s judgement, sentencing the culprits to prison terms ranging from three to seven years, a few weeks ago.

Upholding the Thimphu District Court’s judgment, the High Court sentenced 45-year-old Leki Wangmo from Zhemgang to a concurrent prison term of five years.

The High Court also convicted 28-year-old Dawa Zangmo from Dagana of trafficking five women to Iraq via Delhi in India and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The Court sentenced her to a concurrent prison term of four years.

Similarly, the Court also sentenced 30-year-old Kuenga Wangmo from Thimphu to three years in prison for trafficking one woman to Iraq.

The offence of trafficking a person is a fourth-degree felony with a prison term of three to five years.

According to verdicts, all three convicts were themselves, victims of human trafficking, in the past.

The judgement states that the convicts promised jobs abroad to the victims in 2019 and took them to the destination countries on tourist visas.

The victims were exploited by making them work as housemaids for long hours. Threats of having to refund half a million US dollars were also made should they return to Bhutan.

The High Court judgement states that the victims’ passports were also seized by their employers in Iraq and Oman.

According to sources, court proceedings of the remaining suspects in the case are ongoing.

After extensive investigations following the repatriation of 200 women from the Middle East in 2020, officials from the Department of Law and Order narrowed down to 30 suspects.

Similarly, the department is also advocating to over 17,000 students and overseas employment agents on trafficking in persons. Training to judges, investigators, prosecutors, and officials from immigration was also given to curb the issue of trafficking in persons.

Kinley Dem

Edited by Sherub Dorji