Sri Lanka: Experts call for evidence-based national strategies to address trafficking in persons


Figure 1: Experts deliberating on emerging opportunities to address human trafficking

Colombo, March 29, 2019: Government and civil society experts from Sri Lanka participated in UNODC's first-ever multi-stakeholder consultation to counter trafficking in persons in Colombo on 29 March.

The consultation was aimed towards developing evidence-based national strategies and responses to facilitate better identification of victims and effective investigations.

Participants exchanged insights on ways to address the key socio-economic factors that drive trafficking in persons, while underscoring the importance of strengthening awareness and public outreach on the issue.

The need for an effective follow-up system for complaints was also highlighted as a key measure to enable effective investigations. Experts called for the creation of strong victim identification systems, with support from the government, asserting that "the effectiveness of prosecution is tied to protection of survivors.

Representatives from children-focused organizations said that it was "vital to recognize children as victims," rather than as perpetrators or victims of violence.

Experts revealed that victims often do not support the prosecutorial system, which has an adverse impact on investigations, thereby hampering successful prosecutions in cases of trafficking.  Expressing concern over these patterns, participants said that due attention should be paid to strengthen the prosecution as a process and not as an outcome. "Adopting a victim-centered approach is key," they concurred. 

During the discussions, it was recommended that stakeholders should work together with a coordinated and holistic approach in addressing cases. Creating efficient and reliable data collection mechanisms and formulating an inclusionary policy and legal framework to identify victims were also suggested as key measures to counter trafficking in persons.

Aimed at strengthening responses to tackling trafficking in persons as evidenced by better identification of victims and initiation of investigations, this project also contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

This activity was held in the framework of the UNODC project on "Strengthening the implementation of a comprehensive response to trafficking in persons."

The project is implemented by UNODC Regional Office for South Asia as part of the Global Programme against Trafficking in Persons, with the financial support of the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund of the Government of United Kingdom.