U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka (Tier 2 Watch List)

Sri Lanka is a source and destination country for men and women trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude. Sri Lankan men and women migrate legally to the Middle East, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and South Korea to work as construction workers, domestic servants, or garment factory workers. However, some have found themselves in situations of involuntary servitude when faced with restrictions on movement, threats, physical or sexual abuse, and debt bondage that is, in some instances, facilitated by large pre-departure fees imposed by recruitment agents. In one instance, Sri Lankan men were trafficked into involuntary servitude in Iraq. Children are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation, as well as for forced labor. The U. S. government-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), recruited child soldiers in areas outside of the Sri Lankan government's control. The December 20, 2006 Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka to the United Nations Security Council noted allegations that government security forces were complicit in letting a paramilitary organization recruit child soldiers. Reports also indicate that women from Thailand, the People's Republic of China, and Russia and other countries of the Newly Independent States are trafficked into Sri Lanka for commercial sexual exploitation.

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 is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to address trafficking over the previous year, especially in its efforts to punish trafficking for involuntary servitude. Though the government began prosecuting two suspects under its April 2006 anti-trafficking statute, it did not convict anyone for trafficking crimes. Moreover, Sri Lanka did not demonstrate adequate efforts to monitor and take law enforcement action against labor recruiters believed to use deception to entice workers into involuntary servitude. Sri Lanka should significantly improve its record of prosecutions and convictions of sex and labor trafficking crimes, and should institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups, such as women arrested for prostitution, to ensure that they are not punished.


Sri Lanka made minimal progress on its law enforcement efforts this reporting period. The Sri Lankan government prohibits all forms of trafficking through an April 2006 amendment to its penal code. The government reported initiating two prosecutions under its anti-trafficking law for trafficking for forced prostitution. The government, however, did not undertake any investigations or prosecutions of labor recruiters using deceptive practices to facilitate the trafficking of Sri Lankans into commercial sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude abroad. The government did not undertake investigations of immigration officers who may have been complicit in trafficking. There were no public officials arrested for facilitating trafficking, nor were there substantiated reports that any officials were involved trafficking. Sri Lanka should take steps to increase law enforcement efforts to punish trafficking offenses under the new law, including adequately investigating and criminally prosecuting labor recruitment agents who facilitate the trafficking of men and women abroad.


The Sri Lankan government's efforts to provide protection for trafficking victims improved slightly. While the government relies primarily on NGOs to provide victim protection services, it actively refers victims to these organizations. The police also encourage victims to assist in investigations against their traffickers, and allow foreign victims to obtain employment pending their testimony. For Sri Lankan victims trafficked overseas, the government provides funding to operate shelters in diplomatic missions. For Sri Lankan female victims of trafficking who return to Sri Lanka, only minimal aid is offered in terms of shelter, counseling, and medical care. Sri Lanka does not have a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking from among vulnerable groups such as women arrested for prostitution; as a result, some victims of sex trafficking may have been jailed or fined for prostitution. The government should take steps to ensure that victims are not punished for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, and should improve services offered to repatriated Sri Lankan trafficking victims.


Sri Lanka markedly improved its trafficking prevention efforts. The Tourist Board partnered with UNICEF to launch a National Action Plan Project to eradicate child sex tourism. The government broadcast the "zero tolerance" for child sex tourism policy through TV and radio ads, billboards, banners, car stickers, flyers, and in-flight magazines. Sri Lanka has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.


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