U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (Tier 2)

Sri Lanka is a country of origin and destination for trafficked persons. Commercial sexual exploitation of children, especially that of boys, occurs domestically, often in tourist areas. Many of these children, especially girls, are lured by promises of job opportunities or overseas travel, and family members or friends often introduce them into commercial sexual activity. Internal trafficking of persons for purposes of domestic servitude and combat also takes place in Sri Lanka. In many cases, Sri Lankan women go to the Middle East to countries such as Lebanon, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, or Saudi Arabia in search of work, only to be put into situations of coerced labor, slave-like conditions, or sexual exploitation. A small number of Thai, Russian, and Chinese women have been trafficked to Sri Lanka for purposes of sexual exploitation. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) abduct children for purposes of forced labor and military conscription. A ceasefire has been in place since December 2001, but children are still at risk in rebel-controlled areas.

The government of Sri Lanka does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Sri Lanka can improve its anti-trafficking performance by stepping up law enforcement efforts, particularly against sex tourists, and ensure the protection of children recruited as child soldiers by the LTTE as peace negotiations continue. The government needs to ensure that foreign women who are trafficked to Sri Lanka are not arrested.


The government, together with NGOs, has conducted public awareness campaigns regarding child labor and created hotlines for reporting child labor abuse. Some NGOs also work with the government in starting educational campaigns geared towards keeping mothers from working in the Middle East, where they often work without many civil protections. The government is working collaboratively with other governments in educating Sri Lankan women about their rights in destination countries.


The Sri Lankan Penal Code specifically criminalizes trafficking in persons, and law enforcement authorities have undertaken some investigations of traffickers. Sri Lanka has a labor mediation board and the government also helps in investigating fraudulent employment agencies and contracts. The government's Overseas Employment Bureau works with Sri Lankan embassies abroad to resolve problems that domestic workers encounter. The LTTE controls territory in the north and east of the country, so the government is unable to investigate or prosecute traffickers in these areas.


The Police Women's and Children's Bureau, the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), and a police unit directly attached to the NCPA work together to combat trafficking and protect victims. The government provides rehabilitation camps and other services for victims. The government's ability to provide long-term assistance to victims is limited; however, the NCPA provides medical and psychological assistance to Sri Lankan victims of trafficking and former child soldiers. The NCPA also coordinates the monitoring of the tourism industry and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Sri Lanka shares information with foreign governments and law enforcement organizations about the identification of child abuse. The government has assigned welfare officers to its embassies to countries in the Middle East to assist women who may have been trafficked.


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