Sri Lankan Embassy in Moscow warns of human trafficking

The Sri Lanka Embassy in Moscow has warned Sri Lankans to refrain from falling victim to human trafficking, operated under the guise of job and education opportunities in Russia.

Issuing a statement, the Embassy said that there was a rise on the complaints received by the Sri Lanka Mission in Moscow from Sri Lankans about fake foreign employment and education agencies in Sri Lanka.

The Embassy pointed out that the number of Sri Lankans travelling to the Russian Federation on student/visit visas, seeking job opportunities and further migration to European countries has been drastically increasing over the years.

This year, the Russian authorities apprehended 27 Sri Lankans, and 17 of them were already deported to Sri Lanka after completing their jail terms. Ten persons are still in the detention centres in various cites of the Russian Federation, as their legal process continues.

The Embassy said several Sri Lankan foreign employment and education agencies, Sri Lankan expatriates living in Russia and some other organized groups are engaged in these illegal activities.

In most cases, students are misled and sent on student/visit visas with false promises of obtaining jobs for higher salaries and also to facilitate to cross the borders to European countries. Further, it has been noted that a considerably larger amount of money is being obtained from the students by such agents for the journey to Russia. Thereafter, illegal attempts are made to traffic them via state borders to countries such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Europe.

Many Sri Lankan students are being trapped by the fraudulent agents whose objectives are to exploit unsuspecting students and obtain money while totally disregarding the proper legal channels.

The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Russia said it strictly advises Sri Lankans to refrain from using such illegal avenues to reach Russia or any other neighbouring countries.

As per the immigration rules and regulations, foreigners travelling to the Russian Federation on visit visas are not permitted to work during the validity period of their visas, it added.

The Mission has been notified by the Russian law enforcement authorities that a number of Sri Lankans have been sentenced and fined for their illegal activities. These activities include being illegally occupied as migrant workers following the expiry of visas and violation of immigration rules, possessing forged student/employment visas, illegal crossing of the state borders.

The Embassy has taken initiatives to keep the relevant authorities and the Governments of the Russian Federation as well as Sri Lanka informed of the details of reported complaints of human trafficking.

The Embassy added that it strongly advises Sri Lankans to be vigilant about fake agencies, to refrain from making payments to any illegal bodies, and not to become victims of human trafficking. Further, it is instructed to refrain from travelling to the Russian Federation on student/visit visas seeking employment or with the intention of illegally crossing the borders to Europe. (Colombo Gazette)