US downgrades SL in human trafficking report

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The US has downgraded Sri Lanka in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report which was released on Thursday.

The report said the Government of Sri Lanka does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. “However, it is making significant efforts to do so,” it said.

The 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report said some of the efforts taken by Sri Lanka included convicting more traffickers than previous years, including the first conviction under the trafficking statute in five years.

“The government has identified more potential trafficking victims and continuing to conduct numerous anti-trafficking trainings and awareness-raising events for government officials and civil society,” the report said.

However, it said the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period.

“While it convicted more traffickers, it issued suspended sentences to some of those convicted and initiated significantly fewer prosecutions. Despite numerous trainings, officials did not make adequate efforts to screen individuals arrested or charged for prostitution, vagrancy, or immigration offences for indicators of human trafficking; the government detained child sex trafficking victims and did not provide appropriate care. Complicity remained a serious problem and the government did not initiate any new investigations into allegedly complicit officials, despite multiple reports of official complicity in trafficking. Therefore Sri Lanka was downgraded to Tier 2 Watch List.

In 2018, Sri Lanka was categorised in the Tier 2 group

Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 2-Watch List and Tier 3 are the four categories of countries. Governments of Tier 1 countries fully meet the TVPA’s minimum standards whereas the governments of Tier 3 countries do not fully meet the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so.

The governments of countries included in the Tier 2-Watch List do not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA)’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards, and for which: the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing.