Lanka failed to fully protect victims of trafficking

The Sri Lankan government made limited progress in protecting victims of trafficking, the Unites States said in its 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report released today.

The report released by Sarah Sewall, US Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, said the government also did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offences.

“There were allegations police and other officials accepted bribes to permit brothels to operate; some of the brothels exploited trafficking victims. Many recruitment agencies were alleged to be politically connected. Some sub-agents worked with officials to procure forged or modified documents, or genuine documents with falsified data, to facilitate travel abroad,” the report said.

hrwIt said that the police and the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) reported identifying 29 trafficking victims, a decrease from 50 in 2013.

A government-run shelter, dedicated in 2012 for female trafficking victims, became operational in April 2014. The Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) continued to operate short-term shelters in Sri Lankan embassies and a transit shelter in Sri Lanka’s international airport for returning female migrant workers who encountered abuse abroad. The transit shelter provided medical, counseling, and protection services.

However the report said the government did not have other specialized care available to female trafficking victims and did not have any specialized care services at all for male victims. Authorities also held child victims in facilities housing juvenile criminals until they could be placed in a state-run or state-approved home.

The report also said that the government did not report any efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor during the reporting period. The government provided anti-trafficking training to military personnel prior to their deployments abroad on international peacekeeping missions. The government provided anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. Sri Lanka is not a party to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol. (Colombo Gazette)