Officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking in Sri Lanka

There were isolated reports of Sri Lankan officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking, a report on human trafficking revealed.

The Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP Report) for 2019 released by the US State Department, notes that the Government of Sri Lanka does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.

These efforts included continuing to convict traffickers under its trafficking statute, identifying some trafficking victims among Sri Lankan migrant workers, and continuing to work with international organizations on anti-trafficking training and awareness raising.

However, the report says the Government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period.

“There were isolated reports of officials allegedly complicit in trafficking and reports of inadequate investigations,” the report released yesterday (Thursday) said.

The report also said that the Government’s decrease in the number of trafficking victims identified and continued inadequate efforts to identify Sri Lankan forced labour victims abroad left many potential trafficking victims without social and legal assistance.

Some victims received shelter and/or rehabilitation services, including at embassy shelters for trafficking victims abroad, but conditions and services remained inadequate and inconsistent.

Moreover, the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) continued to handle nearly all migrant labour complaints administratively, many of which had indicators of forced labour, and did not refer all of these potential trafficking cases to police for criminal investigation for trafficking offences.

Officials and NGOs expressed concerns that police continued to arrest some unidentified trafficking victims for prostitution, vagrancy, and immigration offences, and observers reported concerns child sex trafficking victims from previous reporting periods remained in government detention centers.

Therefore Sri Lanka remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year in the annual US report. (Colombo Gazette)