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Govt. emphasises importance of collaborating to combat human trafficking

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E-module launched to train diplomatic staff in fighting human smuggling

By Shanika Sriyananda

Since people in all countries, including those in developed countries, have fallen prey to human traffickers, it is vital to have partnerships in combating human trafficking, a top Government official said on Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary Prasad Kariyawasam said that Sri Lanka was working with partners in the international community, including bilateral partners and international organisations, to effectively combat human trafficking.

Addressing a gathering at the launch of the e-module to train Sri Lanka’s diplomatic staff in combating human smuggling, he said that it was important for officers who were working in countries where trafficking was rampant like Middle Eastern and Far Eastern nations to support moves to curb human smuggling.

Prepared by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the online training module was supported by the Australian Government.

Commending the support given by the IOM and the Australian Government to launch the important initiative, Kariyawasam reiterated the ministry’s commitment to work with all partners, both local and foreign, to take all possible steps to combat human trafficking.

He also said that given the significant number of Sri Lankans who migrated seeking employment overseas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognised the requirement for all officers posted at Sri Lanka’s missions and posts overseas to be properly equipped to identify, assist and protect victims of human trafficking since they were often the first point of contact between victims and the authorities.

Meanwhile, the Ministry Secretary also called on all Sri Lankans to join the Government in battling human trafficking.

“As individual citizens, we must all try to learn about human trafficking, the sources, forms and think about what each of us can do in our own way to stop and prevent trafficking,” he said, adding that human trafficking led to instability and inequality.

He stated that traffickers made profits from the hopes and despair of people and they preyed on the most vulnerable people, mostly women and girls, while robbing people of their fundamental rights.

“This module has been designed to assist officers overseas to be properly equipped to identify and assist the victims of human trafficking. We hope that this training module will help them acquire basic skills to respond effectively and sensitively when they encounter the potential victims of trafficking in their daily work,” Kariyawasam said.

The online training module forms part of IOM-Sri Lanka’s ‘Combating Trafficking in Persons through a Public Information Campaign’ project and is part of the Bandaranaike International Diplomatic Training Institute’s (BIDTI) Electronic Learning Space. The BIDTI, which is the training arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will conduct and evaluate the course.

The content of the module is based on a counter-trafficking training manual. The course will be extended to officers of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, Ministry of Defence and Department of Commerce, who are also assigned to work in Sri Lankan missions and posts overseas.

The Secretary of the Ministry of Justice and Chair of the National Task Force against Human Trafficking W.M.M.R Adikari, Australian High Commissioner Bryce Hutchesson, IOM Chief of Mission Giuseppe Crocetti and Director General of BIDTI Ambassador Pamela J. Deen participated in the event.

Pix by Sameera Wijesinghe

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