Parliamentarians from Sri Lanka and across the Asia-Pacific are in Perth to participate in a workshop organised by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA UK), in partnership with the Parliament of Western Australia, from 16-18 December 2019. The lawmakers will explore their role in leading the fight against human trafficking and forced labour.
In attendance will be representatives from Australia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and the UK. The Global Slavery Index, produced by the Minderoo Foundation, estimates that there are around 40.3 million victims of modern slavery, forced labour and human trafficking worldwide, with over half that number existing within the Asia-Pacific region.
The workshop is an opportunity for parliamentarians to exchange ideas around their role in gathering evidence and research; scrutinising anti-trafficking policy and legislation; and oversight of the implementation of anti-trafficking laws. Participants are at the forefront of strengthening legislation and raising awareness of these issues at local, national and international level.
The three-day event will also look in detail at the issue of ‘orphanage trafficking’, where children who have parents or guardians are taken and put into orphanages in order that traffickers profit from this false orphanage system. As part of the workshop, MPs will hold a joint committee inquiry into the topic, taking evidence from experts in academia and civil society.
Australia’s Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds CSC, who was the minister responsible for the passage of Australia’s Modern Slavery Bill 2018 – and has been raising awareness of ‘orphanage trafficking’ – will address delegates about her experiences. She stated ahead of the workshop:
“The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK workshop demonstrates the important parliamentary work that is continuing throughout the Commonwealth to combat human trafficking, forced labour and emerging forms of exploitation.
I first learned about orphanage tourism during a parliamentary field visit to Cambodia with Save the Children. I returned home determined that Australia take action against this horrifying form of modern slavery.
Last year, due to the dedicated efforts of many, the Australian Parliament passed the Modern Slavery Act. It was a proud moment and a reminder of our ultimate responsibility as law makers.” (Colombo Gazette)