The U.S State Department’s annual report on human trafficking says in Sri Lanka boys are still more likely than girls to be forced into prostitution in coastal areas for domestic child sex tourism.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the report, Tuesday, which placed Sri Lanka on Tier 2 among countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards to counter human trafficking, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
The report says there are 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.
Some child domestic workers in Colombo, generally from the Tamil tea-estate sector of the country, are subjected to physical, sexual, and mental abuse, nonpayment of wages, and restrictions of their government.
A small number of women from Thailand, China, and countries in South Asia, Europe, and the former Soviet Union may be subjected to forced prostitution in Sri Lanka, the report said.
According to the report last year, the government did not convict any trafficking offenders. Serious problems remain, particularly in protecting victims of trafficking in Sri Lanka and abroad, and not addressing official complicity in human trafficking.
However, the government took strong preventative efforts, including the convictions of two labor recruitment agents who committed fraudulent recruitment offenses, and enhanced inter-ministerial coordination through monthly meetings.
The U.S report urged Sri Lanka to improve efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, particularly those responsible for recruiting victims with fraudulent offers of employment and excessive commission fees for the purpose of subjecting them to forced labor; develop and implement formal victim referral procedures; ensure that victims of trafficking found within Sri Lanka are not detained or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked, such as visa violations or prostitution; train local law enforcement on victim identification, investigation of cases, and assembling strong cases; facilitate the speedy repatriation of foreign trafficking victims by providing airfare and not obligating them to remain in the country if they choose to initiate law enforcement proceedings; provide witness protection and incentives for victims to cooperate with law enforcement to enable prosecutions; improve services for shelters, legal aid, counseling, and trained staff at embassies in destination countries; promote safe tourism campaigns to ensure that child sex tourism does not increase with expected rapid growth of tourism; promote safe and legal migration rather than discouraging migration or imposing age restrictions on migrants; and improve regulation and monitoring of recruitment agencies and village level brokers. (Colombo Gazette)