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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 108

U.S. Teams with IOM and Sri Lankan Government to Help Combat Human Trafficking

Colombo, 19 October, (Asiantribune.com): A new program to combat human trafficking funded by the United States and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will help law enforcement officials identify instances of trafficking in persons and increase the rate of prosecution of those responsible for the practice in Sri Lanka.

Building on IOM’s earlier initiatives to curb human trafficking here, the $500,000 program, co-funded by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), will train 500 law enforcement and government officials on human trafficking, improve methods of data collection and dissemination to track trafficking cases, and enhance coordination among government and nongovernmental organizations.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake (second right) announces a new $500,000 U.S. initiative to combat human trafficking in Sri Lanka in partnership with IOM.   Joining the Ambassador at the briefing was USAID Mission Director Rebecca Cohn (left) IOM Chief of Mission Mohammed Abdiker (second left) and Sri Lanka Bureau of Protection of Women and Children A.R. Waidyalankara (right). ( Photo: USAID/Zack Taylor)U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake (second right) announces a new $500,000 U.S. initiative to combat human trafficking in Sri Lanka in partnership with IOM. Joining the Ambassador at the briefing was USAID Mission Director Rebecca Cohn (left) IOM Chief of Mission Mohammed Abdiker (second left) and Sri Lanka Bureau of Protection of Women and Children A.R. Waidyalankara (right). ( Photo: USAID/Zack Taylor)

“Before Sri Lanka can make significant progress in identifying those responsible and hold them accountable for trafficking practices, it must have a clearer understanding of how and where these practices are taking place,” U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake said at a media briefing launching the program. “A better trained network of law enforcement professionals can establish legal grounds under which instigators of trafficking can be identified and prosecuted under the law. This program promises to help in that effort.”

The program will also assist the Government to develop a national policy to combat trafficking in Sri Lanka; support ‘training of trainers’ for more than 50 individuals to ensure that awareness on the part of law enforcement will continue to rise; enhance collaboration and coordination among government agencies and NGOs to share experiences, and, result in a database to help identify trafficking incidences.

“This global phenomenon has to be curbed before it reaches epidemic proportions, hence there is a need for all stakeholders, government authorities and organizations working on this issue to come together to combat human trafficking and reap the benefits of migration for socioeconomic development of the country,” Mr. Mohamed Abdiker, IOM’s Chief of Mission told the gathering.

Human trafficking is the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world, and is emerging as one of the most urgent human security issues of today. Trafficking in persons includes forced domestic labor, prostitution, or involuntary marriage, and even illegal organ theft. Nearly all countries face the problem of human trafficking in some way or another.

Since 1956, the Government of Sri Lanka has sought to protect women, children and young persons against forced employment.

Later acts strengthened these laws and responsibilities of the government to protect the rights of women and children. Today, the National Child Protection Authority, Department of Probation and Child Care, Child and Women Desks of Sri Lanka Police Department, and Department of Labor all work to protect the rights of women and children in Sri Lanka. Many local and international non-governmental organizations also collaborate with the government. Still, significant gaps and needs exist in the sector including increasing overall awareness of the issue and implementation of the existing law.

“We consider trafficking in persons, especially persons being sent abroad, sometimes with forged documents, to be a very serious issue,” said Mr. A.R. Waidyalankara, Director of Sri Lanka’s Bureau for Protection of Women and Children. “This program will assist us in filling the gaps in knowledge to help us more vigorously identify and prosecute those perpetrators of human trafficking.”

- Asian Tribune -

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