New Counter Trafficking Laws Introduced


Sri Lanka has introduced amendments to counter-trafficking laws in
a move to bring national legislation in line with international
law. The amendment has changed the definition of trafficking in the
Penal Code, as required by the UN protocol against trafficking in
human beings.

IOM provided technical advice to the Sri Lankan government in
the formulation of the new laws, particularly through the provision
of recommendations to list "the abuse of a position of
vulnerability as a means of trafficking" – as described in
the UN Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish human trafficking
-- in the Bill, which was passed by parliament earlier this

This followed a comprehensive review by an IOM legal expert of
the existing laws related to human trafficking. The analytical
study examined available trial case studies with the aim of
highlighting discrepancies with international laws. Based on these
findings, IOM developed guidelines and recommendations that served
as a legal framework for the Ministry of Justice and Law Reforms to
bring in amendments.

This specific amendment recognizes that many trafficked people
may believe that they have no reasonable alternative and submit to
the situation.

"In a country like Sri Lanka for example, the abuse of a
position of vulnerability can result from situations like being
ostracized by the community due to stigma after falling victim to
"sensitive" crimes such as rape or perceived sexual abuse. The
abuse may also result as a consequence of extreme poverty or
displacement following conflict or calamities," said Giuseppe
Crocetti, IOM's legal expert who worked closely with the Sri Lankan
justice ministry on the amendment.

The offence of trafficking was first introduced in the Penal
Code in 1995. However, the concept posed problems for both legal
practitioners and enforcement officials due to inadequacies in its
definition, the merging of different criminal offences not strictly
related to trafficking such as illegal adoption. The earlier
definition failed to mention the means by which trafficking was
perpetrated or the circumstances related to the initial phase of
the "recruitment" process.

Sections of Sri Lankan law related to trafficking crimes were
also scattered across many Acts and other sections of the Penal
Code were invoked to complement and supplement the main offence of
trafficking such as procurement, kidnapping, abduction and

Although there is little data on trafficking in Sri Lanka,
mostly women and children are trafficked internally and to the
Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea for forced labour
and sexual exploitation.

For further information, please contact:

Ranjitha Balasubarayam

IOM Sri Lanka

Tel: +94 7735 97 349

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