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Equipping Sri Lanka to counter human trafficking

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  • US Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs awards ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives new Equipping Sri Lanka to Counter Trafficking in Persons project 

A considerable proportion of the Sri Lankan labour force migrates in search of better pay and work opportunities abroad. For most it is a positive and rewarding experience. However, uninformed and ill-prepared migration has created a dangerous vacuum in which human traffickers are able to exploit migrant workers. 

The Equipping Sri Lanka to Counter Trafficking in Persons (EQUIP) project awarded to the ILO, with The Asia Foundation (TAF) as a sub-grantee, brings two highly experienced organisations to tackle the challenges Sri Lanka faces in responding to the multi-dimensional labour migration cum human trafficking nexus. The project will utilise a three-pronged approach of Protection, Prevention and Prosecution to address these issues. Research to inform policy and practice, public awareness raising, building capacities of recruitment agents and government officers,  victim counsellors and legal advisors, adapting new technologies to inform the public on fair migration practices and strengthening the current prosecution and investigation systems will be some of the efforts undertaken. 

“This is a very timely intervention in Sri Lanka and for the ILO to step up efforts to combat human trafficking,” said ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Simrin Singh.  

“Well-known ILO tools on Fair Recruitment and the application of recommendations of ILO Conventions and Protocols on Forced Labour will make a positive dent in tackling the challenges at the national and grassroots levels.”

Both grassroots and national level interventions will be concurrently implemented. Geographical regions that are known hotspots for outbound migration – Colombo, Kandy, Gampaha and Kurunegala – will benefit from strong preventative interventions, while the Government of Sri Lanka through relevant line ministries will be supported to adopt and apply international standards governing labour migration and human trafficking, including pursuing the ratification of the 2014 ILO Forced Labour Protocol (P29).  

EQUIP will target men, women and children who are at risk and those who are victims of human trafficking. The project will engage closely with “agents of change” – policymakers, legal enforcement bodies, trade unions as well as businesses - to amplify the impact of interventions and in pursuit of lasting change. 


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