LAUNCHING OF THE COUNTER-TRAFFICKING PROJECT “IMPACT” TO COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN SRI LANKA
Colombo, 29 July 2022 - With funding support from the United States Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Migration entity, will implement a three-year project to combat trafficking in persons in Sri Lanka. Officially launched at an event held in Colombo on 29 July 2022, the project entitled “Strengthening Government and CSO Capacity to Combat Trafficking in Persons and Create Greater Impact” (IMPACT) aims to strengthen national and local/community level capacities and scale up community driven responses to effectively combat and respond to trafficking in persons (TIP), and contribute to the effective implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan (NSAP 2021-2025) to Monitor and Combat human trafficking. The “IMPACT” project will be implemented in close collaboration with the National Anti- Human Trafficking Task Force (NAHTTF) spearheaded by the Ministry of Defence.
Human Trafficking is an organized crime committed both within the country and across borders. It is an offence affecting men, women and children and is a punishable offence under the Penal code of Sri Lanka. Trafficking can take different forms including, but not limited to, forced labour and sexual exploitation. Combatting the crime requires a coordinated response from both government and non-government stakeholders.
IOM Sri Lanka has extensive experience and a long history of work in countering human trafficking, including many years of collaboration with the NAHTTF. Under this project, IOM will also partner with Save the Children and four other civil society organizations to implement counter trafficking initiatives in 11 districts across the country.
A wide array of activities are set to be implemented under the project inclusive of public awareness campaigns, trainings for government officials and non-government stakeholders, outreach activities to vulnerable communities at-risk, assistance to victims of trafficking, support to upgrade shelters and investigation agencies, interventions to combat child trafficking, technical support to the NAHTTF, strengthening national referral mechanisms, collaborations with private sector tourism service providers to prevent trafficking and training journalists and media representatives on ethical and fact based reporting on trafficking in persons.
The project activities aim at increasing the understanding of trafficking in persons, enhancing victim identification and provision of protection services, and implementing a reporting and referral mechanism from the village to the central government levels.
H.E Ambassador Julie Chung, the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka stated that “As we celebrate this new project, we are encouraged that it will support several key recommendations from the 2022 TIP report regarding proactive victim identification, improving victim services, improving efforts to address child sex tourism, promoting safe and legal migration, and support the continuing institutionalization of sustained government coordination.”
Foregrounding IOM’s support, Sarat Dash, Chief of Mission to IOM Sri Lanka and the Maldives affirmed “to support the Government of Sri Lanka to strengthen its counter trafficking efforts. The complexity of the crime, the difficulty in identifying victims, challenges in prosecuting perpetrators and the ever-changing nature of the crime itself requires a more collective and comprehensive response from the government, civil society, private sector and other stakeholders. The partnerships catalysed by the “IMPACT” project will enable the effective delivery of counter trafficking responses, preventing trafficking, protecting victims and prosecuting the perpetrators.”
The event launch was successfully held and attended by multiple stakeholders and dignitaries, including Major General J. R Kulatunga – Chief of National Intelligence - Ministry of Defence ; Ambassador Julie Chung- the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka ; Sarat Dash - Chief of Mission to IOM Sri Lanka and the Maldives and other such personnel.
In order to more effectively achieve the objectives of the National Strategic Action Plan (2021 – 2025) to Monitor and Combat Human Trafficking, and more proactively collaborate with non-governmental and civil society organizations, the Ministry of Defence as the Chair of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force of Sri Lanka, has taken the initiative to establish an official website ( www.nahttf.gov.lk ) for the Task Force. This website was officially launched at this event.
An IOM hotline is in operation to assist and refer trafficking cases and to provide any caller with information on the crime of human trafficking. The hotline is open to all at +94 76 658 8688. For more information, please contact the hotline number or write to IOM Sri Lanka at firstname.lastname@example.org