r Ministry of Defence - Sri Lanka

Defence Secretary sheds light on thwarting human trafficking

August 14, 2023
  • Says coordination among state and non-state institutions crucial for a holistic response to human trafficking
  • Plans to incorporate awareness on human trafficking into education sector
  • A wakeup call to all stakeholder institutions from the NAHTTF

The landscape of human trafficking is evolving, transforming into a ruthless business that preys on the vulnerable and exploits their desperation. This dark reality presents a complex challenge that threatens not just individual lives but our national security as well, stressed Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne delivering the keynote address at the opening session of the Awareness Workshop organized for the Divisional Secretaries on Human Trafficking at the Radisson Hotel, Colombo today (Aug 14).

The three-day workshop is organized by the National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (NAHTTF) in collaboration with the Safe Foundation under ‘Empowering Civil Society Organizations to Combat Human Trafficking’, a project funded by the USAID.

This workshop is held under the supervision of the Defence Secretary, with the purview of the Chief of National Intelligence Major General Ruwan Kulathunga, while 36 Divisional Secretaries and Assistant Divisional Secretaries are attending the programme.

‘Recognizing the gravity of this threat, we have formulated the National Strategic Action Plan to monitor and combat human trafficking for the years 2021-2025’ the Defence Secretary stated adding “our approach is based on four pillars: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and Partnership”.

Highlighting the gaining ground over collective effort he went on emphasising the necessity of coordination between governmental and non-governmental organizations, which is crucial for a holistic response to human trafficking.

“At present, we collaborate with twenty stakeholders under the NAHTTF, demonstrating the power of unity in our fight against this crime”, he added.

On this note focusing the importance of the Divisional Secretaries role that stands as a cornerstone he remarked that this multi-disciplinary collaboration will enable them to actively contribute to the NAHTTF’s endeavours.

The upgrading to ‘Tier-2’ from ‘Tier-2 Watch List’ in the Trafficking in Persons Report submitted annually to the US Department of State showcases our progress he reasoned while explaining positive outcomes of this collective effort.

Revealingly future plans that are afoot to work with inter-governmental institutions and connect field development officers with the taskforce and further aim to incorporate awareness of Human Trafficking into the education system, he said.

In closing he remarked that human trafficking is a crime against humanity, and affirmed we, as the NAHTTF of Sri Lanka, are determined to fight against it with all our might.

Senior officials of Safe Foundation, Attorney General’s Department, Immigration and Emigration Department, Human Trafficking, Smuggling, Maritime Crimes Investigation Division, Institute of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, Bureau for the Prevention of Abuse of Children and Women, National Child Protection Authority, Department of Labour, National Authority for the Protection of Victims of Crime and Witnesses, SLBFE, IOM, ILO and legal officers representing the Defence Ministry are contributing as resource personnel at the three-day long workshop.