Human trafficking increased in Sri Lanka during Covid epidemic

Human trafficking increased in Sri Lanka during Covid epidemic

Today is July 30th; World Day against Trafficking in Persons. On the occasion of Day against Trafficking in Persons, Sri Lanka currently is in very tragic situation.

The death body of Ishilini Jude; a girl who died of burn injuries while she work as a maid in the house of Former MP Rishad Badiurdeen, will be exhumed today. Child slavery is something that has been continuing for a long time in our country. None of the governments that came to power have been able to stop this. Human trafficking which started as child slavery and prostitution now exist in various forms in Sri Lanka

This situation is especially prevalent among women and children today. This includes the trafficking of a 15-year-old girl for the purpose of sex in Mt. Lavinia recently.

Human traffickers often target women who want to migrate to the European countries or Middle East for employment opportunities, and deceive them with money and comfort they could obtain in abroad and tactfully deploy them in hotel work, farm work, mining or prostitution, and without even realizing the truth that happened.

With the rise of global Covid crisis, human trafficking in Sri Lanka has increased. This is especially occurred through the Internet. In Sri Lanka, human traffickers recruit women from rural areas for the employment opportunities in beauty salons, spas, hospitality services and domestic service. They are deployed for forced labour or commercial sex after they came to the work.

It has been observed that more and more unethical labour recruitment practices are being reported in the local labour market due to the epidemic. It’s especially targeting women. Due to the economic difficulties associated with the epidemic, young women and children have been involved in commercial sexual activity. Although the volume of tourism industry will drop significantly during the epidemic by 2020, it is reported that boys and girls in the trade are exploiting in child sex, commercial sex in tourism, hotels, beaches and at annual festivals.

Reports allege that some hotels allow customers to book “services” including sex with boys and girls and children, while some hotel intermediaries offer children for commercial sex to their guests,. In addition to foreign tourists, including Germany, Russia, India and China, there has been significant domestic demand for juvenile commercial sex, according to a report of Sri Lanka on the U.S. official website.

In recent years, traffickers have trafficked women from other Asian countries to Sri Lanka, but the epidemic has stopped foreign visits to Sri Lanka by March 2020. The official US website states that the Sri Lankan government does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of this racket. However, it is also said to be a significant effort. These efforts include increasingly prosecuting children in government orphanages and investigating allegations of child sexual abuse. The government continued to work with international organizations to raise anti-trafficking training and awareness. However, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on its anti-trafficking capacity, the government has not shown an overall increase compared to the previous reporting period. The government has not tried to investigate some of the allegations against officials in previous years. The government gained less credibility and attempts to identify Sri Lankan victims of forced labour abroad were not enough. In addition, the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment continued to administratively handle some migrant worker complaints, which may have been indicators of forced labour. As the government has allocated sufficient resources for a written plan that will make a significant effort to meet the minimum standards, Sri Lanka has been granted a waiver from a downgrade to Grade 3, which is otherwise required under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Therefore, Sri Lanka remains in the Tier 2 list for the third consecutive time.


Laws in Sri Lanka

The government continued its efforts to enforce anti-trafficking laws. Section 360 (c) of the Penal Code criminalizes sex trafficking and labour trafficking and carries a maximum sentence of two to 20 years in prison and a fine. The government also used other parts of the Penal Code to investigate and prosecute sex trafficking crimes. Article 360 ​​(b) criminalizes child sexual abuse and carries a maximum sentence of 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine. In addition, the provision of Section 360 (a) for procurement and criminal offenses and imprisonment for two to 10 years is significantly less than the offenses under the provisions of the Trafficking Act.


Until May 2021 in Sri Lanka

The Anti-Trafficking Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the police launched 14 racket investigations (six sex rackets and eight forced labour), along with 10 investigations during the previous reporting period. The government has initiated 27 lawsuits (16 under procurement, two under racketeering and child statute sexual exploitation).

Complaints decreasing by 46 cases (35 under the Procurement Statute) during the last reporting period and the government has secured the admission of three racketeers under Procurement Ordinance 360 ​​(a) and has convicted 10 racketeers (seven for procurement and three for racketeering) in the last reporting period, defendants were acquitted and released in three cases, two racketeers have been sentenced to two years in prison and one racketeer has had his sentence suspended. By issuing light sentences to the offending traffickers, the court created security problems for the victims and prevented it from being weakened. Investigations have been suspended from mid-March to May 2020 due to the loc down in Sri Lanka. Due to the epidemic, government trials were delayed until late 2020, and once resumed, the government pointed out to the international community that it faced challenges in securing the presence of witnesses. Of the racket investigations initiated in the recent past, the CID has referred one sex trafficking case to the Attorney General’s Department (AGD) and the other three are under investigation.


All pornographic websites are banned

Colombo Additional Magistrate Lochani Abeywickrema yesterday (29) ordered the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) to ban all malicious websites in Sri Lanka. The Attorney General’s Department has requested the court to ban these malicious websites as investigations have revealed that they are involved in various forms of human trafficking and abuse. The magistrate said that the court was issuing these orders in accordance with Section 124 of the Code of Criminal Procedure Act as the judiciary should take immediate action to control the current situation due to malicious websites. The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) was also directed to submit a report to the court containing all information pertaining to the services provided.

Meanwhile, Police Media Spokesman, Senior DIG Ajith Rohana stated that 17629 child pornography videos have been uploaded to the internet during the month of June 17 to July 28. This is a very dangerous situation. We must immediately stand up against this human trafficking in the country.




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