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BIA establishes a special unit to prevent illegal emigrations

By: Staff Writer Colombo (LNW): A Safe Migration Promotion Unit (SMU) to prevent illegal emigration on forged visas through the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) has been established at the departure terminal of the airport by Labour and Foreign Employment Minister Manush Nanayakkara. The minister said several individuals had left for Oman, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates on forged visas and it has created serious issues. He said the Safe Migration Unit was established on the recommendations of the Ministry of Defense and the National Task Force to Prevent Human Smuggling to prevent the movement of passengers on illegal travel documents. The SMU comprises officers of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau, the CID, the Department of Immigration and Emigration and the State Intelligence Service. Minister Nanayakkara said it would function as a pilot project for three months and will be further improved thereafter. Human trafficking and smuggling of migrants are global and widespread crimes that use men, women and children for profit. Criminal networks involved in these activities operate across different jurisdictions, taking advantage of gaps and differences in legal frameworks. International cooperation is therefore an imperative to strengthen law enforcement responses. By joining forces, countries can pool resources, share vital intelligence, and coordinate their efforts more effectively. As the Chair of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (NAHTTF) of Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Defence announced  that Sri Lanka remains in Tier 2 of the Annual Ratings of the recently released Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report by the United States Department of State. Known as the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-trafficking efforts, the US TIP Report also reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue. As per the 2023 US TIP Report, GoSL does not fully meet the minimum standard for the elimination of trafficking but is making a significant effort to do so; and demonstrates overall increasing efforts in comparison with 2022. While highlighting that the Sri Lankan Government increased prosecutions and convictions of traffickers, cooperated with foreign officials, reformed some restrictive migration policies, blacklisted more agencies, expanded the regulation of sub-agents and supported the repatriation of Sri Lankans after identifying more victims; the 2023 US TIP Report makes 12 prioritized recommendations for stronger counter-trafficking efforts in the country. Among the said recommendations are ensuring that victims are not inappropriately penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked, increasing efforts to address child sex tourism, including proactive identification of victims and investigation of complicit establishments, formalizing the domestic work sector Ministry of Defence, will be putting in place several strategies to implement these recommendations. Sri Lanka remaining in Tier 2 is a testament to the strong perseverance of all the members of the NAHTTF in following a holistic and collaborative approach to curb human trafficking, recognized currently as one of the fastest growing criminal industries in the world.

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