June 20, Washington D.C. : Although the Government of Sri Lanka is making significant efforts to eliminate human trafficking it does not fully comply with the minimum standards and failed to demonstrate evidence of increasing overall efforts to address human trafficking last year, a US report on human trafficking said.
The 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report released Friday by the United States Secretary of State John Kerry has placed Sri Lanka among Tier 2 Watch List countries.
For the third year in a row, Sri Lankan authorities failed to convict any traffickers under Sri Lanka's trafficking statute, and almost none of the traffickers convicted under the procurement statute served time in prison, the 2014 report said.
Placing Sri Lanka in Tier 2 Watch list the report noted that the government continued modest prevention efforts, including updating its national action plan, holding monthly inter-ministerial meetings, and launching awareness campaigns but despite these measures, the government failed to demonstrate evidence of increasing overall efforts to address human trafficking over the previous reporting period.
Tier 2 countries are the countries whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.
A Tier 2 country is placed in the Watch List if the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing while there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year.
The Sri Lankan government made very limited law enforcement efforts to address human trafficking, the report said while noting that the government has investigated 20 new cases of trafficking in 2013, compared to 44 in 2012.
Government employees' suspected complicity in trafficking offenses remained a problem as there were allegations of officials accepting bribes to permit brothels to operate and some of the brothels exploiting trafficking victims.
The 2014 report inter alia recommended the Sri Lankan government to improve efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected trafficking offenses, respecting due process, and convict and punish offenders; ensure identified victims, including men and children, receive specialized care services, including safe accommodation, psychosocial counseling, and legal assistance; investigate and prosecute government officials suspected of complicity in human trafficking; and train local and national government officials on care and referral procedures.
It further recommended the government to ensure that victims found within Sri Lanka are not detained or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, such as migration violations or prostitution.
Read the full report on Sri Lanka