Colombo, Oct 19 (UNI) A US funded programme to combat the scourge of human trafficking was launched here today.
The programme intends to help law enforcement officials to identify instances of trafficking in persons and increase the rate of prosecution of those responsible for the practice in Sri Lanka.
The 5,00,000 dollars project implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is to train 500 law enforcement and Government officials on human trafficking, improve methods of data collection and dissemination to track trafficking cases and enhance coordination between the Government and NGOs.
US Ambassador Robert Blake noted that the programme would also assist the Government to develop a national policy to combat trafficking in Sri Lanka, the Daily News reported.
Describing human trafficking as the third largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world, the Ambassador said this was emerging as one of the most urgent human security issues today.
Citing a recent report by the US Attorney General, the Ambassador noted that 600,000-800,000 human beings were trafficked across international borders each year, with 80 per cent being women and girls.
In the Sri Lankan scenario, high rates of domestic violence, migration, poverty, sex tourism and destruction due to the ethnic conflict and natural disasters has made the country ripe for human trafficking, he added.
The IOM chief of mission Mohammed Abdiker pointed out that migration has become a beneficial component in socio-economic development in Sri Lanka with migrant workers being the second largest foreign exchange earner.
The Director of the Sri Lanka Bureau for protection of women and children A R Waidyalankara welcoming the move said this programme will assist us in filling the gaps in knowledge to help us more vigorously identify and prosecute the perpetrators of human trafficking.
He added that properly trained officers were the need of the hour as the law which was amended recently had enough teeth to address the issues.