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Lanka failed to address human trafficking

2013 Jun 22

Lanka failed to address human trafficking
The 2013 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) report released by the US State Department has criticized Sri Lanka for failing to address issues of human trafficking and has placed Sri Lanka among Tier Two Watch list countries.

The report asserts the Government of Sri Lanka has made limited progress to protect and prevent human trafficking in the last year, adding that law enforcement efforts to combat human trafficking were weak during the reported period.

The report further notes, “Government employees’ complicity in trafficking offences remained a problem. Many recruitment agencies were run by politicians or were politically connected. Some sub-agents cooperated with Sri Lankan officials to procure forged or modified documents, or real documents with false data, to facilitate travel abroad.”

The report states that Sri Lanka is primarily a source and, to a much lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.

Some of the Sri Lankan men, women, and children (16 to 17 years old) who migrate consensually to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Singapore to work as construction workers, domestic servants, or garment factory workers subsequently face conditions indicative of forced labor including restrictions on movement, withholding of passports, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and threats of detention and deportation for immigration violations.

Within the country, women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in brothels. Boys are more likely than girls to be forced into prostitution in coastal areas for domestic child sex tourism.

The report said that children, individuals with physical deformities, and those from socially vulnerable groups are forced to beg or engage in criminal activity in the cities of Colombo and Kandy. In addition, there have been reports of children being subjected to bonded labor and forced labor in dry-zone farming areas on plantations, and in the fireworks and fish-drying industries.

Internally-displaced persons, war widows, and unregistered female migrants remained particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.

The report has recommended the Sri Lankan Government to fully implement procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and refer them to care facilities and to strengthen the training of local and national government officials.

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