Secretary of State John Kerry released the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report on Wednesday, June 19 at the U.S. Department of State. As required by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the TIP Report assesses governments around the world on their efforts to combat modern slavery. The 13th annual TIP Report includes narratives of 188 countries and territories. The event was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, nongovernmental and international organization representatives, and anti-trafficking activists.
In its report on Sri Lanka the United States has urged the Sri Lankan government to investigate and prosecute government officials suspected of complicity in human trafficking, and that Sri Lanka needs to improve efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking offenses.
Sri Lanka is primarily a source and, to a much lesser extent, a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. In the reporting period, due to recent government restrictions on the emigration of Sri Lankan women, fraudulent recruitment agents have increased their recruitment of Sri Lankan men to travel abroad. In 2012, Sri Lankan victims of forced labor were identified in Israel. Some Sri Lankan women are subjected to forced prostitution in Jordan, Singapore, Maldives, and other countries.
The report states that within the country, women and children are subjected to sex trafficking in brothels. Internally-displaced persons, war widows, and unregistered female migrants remained particularly vulnerable to human trafficking. Government officials confused trafficking in persons with other crimes, such as human smuggling, illegal immigration, and prostitution; this confusion impeded law enforcement and victim protection efforts.
It is further stated that the Sri Lankan government continued limited law enforcement efforts to address human trafficking during the reporting period.. Government employees’ complicity in trafficking offenses remained a problem. The government did not report any prosecutions of government employees for alleged complicity in trafficking-related offenses during the reporting period. The government made limited progress in protecting victims of trafficking during the year. There was no information on whether the government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases.
The Sri Lankan government made limited progress in its efforts to prevent trafficking during the last year. The government imposed a ban on the migration of females younger than 25 years for domestic work in Saudi Arabia and often refused to allow women with young children to migrate for work; evidence shows that bans such as these may drive migration further underground and lead to increased human trafficking. While the SLBFE continued to require migrant domestic workers with no experience working in the Middle East to complete a 12-day pre-departure training course, this did not always happen in practice. Furthermore, the majority of returning migrants who had taken the course reported that the pre-departure training they received was not helpful in their destination country.