Equipping Sri Lanka to Counter Human Trafficking

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs awards the ILO Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives a new project: “Equipping Sri Lanka to Counter Trafficking in Persons (EQUIP)”

Press release | Colombo, Sri Lanka | 24 January 2018
Contact(s): Thilini Fernando, National Project Coordinator, EQUIP
ILO News (Colombo):
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 have created a dangerous vacuum in which human traffickers are able to exploit migrant workers.

The 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 utilize 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”.

Ms Simrin Singh, Country Director, ILO Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
“This is a very timely intervention in Sri Lanka and for the ILO to step up efforts to combat human trafficking,” said Simrin Singh, Country Director of the ILO for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “Well-known ILO tools on Fair Recruitment and the application of recommendations of ILO Conventions and Protocols on Forced Labor will make a positive dent in tackling the challenges at national and grass root levels.”

Both grass-roots 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”– policy makers, legal enforcement bodies, trade unions as well as business - to amplify the impact of interventions and in pursuit of lasting change.