Empowering CSOs to Combat Human Trafficking in Sri Lanka (ECCT)”

The introduction

RAHAMA was applied for Empowering CSOs to Combat Human Trafficking in SriLanka (ECCT) project for 2022 to 2026 To USAID through SAFE FOUNDATION.  This project submitted by one of the co applicants RAHAMA under the overall USAID grant revived and executed by SAFE Foundation.  Initially the RAHAMA target 20 CSOs and 09 Divisional secretary Divisions of two Districts (Vavuniya and Mullaithevu). The project works with TiP victims, Illegal migrant families, Community member of target villages, CSO members, Relevant Government officers and other stakeholders (Media self-interested persons).

Project Background

Trafficking in Persons (TIP) is a grave human rights violation and a serious crime affecting community. It victimizes large no of women, men and children, including those most vulnerable amongst migrant communities, asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons, and is commonly associated with many other forms of exploitation, such as sexual exploitation, forced and bonded labour, forced marriages and practices like slavery. The brutality and injustice associated with trafficking in persons is immeasurable for each and every victim. Their lives, dreams and expectations are shattered.

Human trafficking and illegal migration was a serious issue in Northern Province due to the past war and displacement situations. It continues after the war as well and became normalized experience by the families in the area. An article on ‘Reuters’ appeared on August 9, 2017[1] analyses the rising yet unacknowledged trend in Sri Lanka where a lack of opportunities for thousands of war widows is making them easy victims for traffickers who sell them as slaves overseas. With no opportunities to earn a livelihood, these women needs to look after many dependents- are forced to borrow from money lenders, leaving them open to exploitation by trafficking networks. It is a shameful crime and affecting the lives of individuals and their families in the community; robbing them of their dignity. It is a justice issue because persons who fall victim to trafficking are not random, but rather are part of populations made vulnerable through economic injustice, racial or ethnic oppression, gender discrimination, or any number of oppressions.

The report of the Special Rapporteur on The Human Rights of Migration (2015) identified that there are policies in place but the full implementation and enforcement is week and there is a need for strong right based legislation and enforceable agreements with all destination States.  The gab of implementation cannot be addressed without Civil Society’s influence. Therefore the project targets CSO strengthening to influence in policy changes /gap filling process and capacitate the government and nongovernment service providers to address the issues. It also important to make aware the community about the consequences of the issues and its solutions.

Project objective

Overall objectives of the project is to address human trafficking and illegal migration in Northern Province of Sri Lanka. The project uses 3 approaches to achieve the objectives. It empowers Civil Society Organization to combat human trafficking and illegal migration at community level; capacitates government and non-government organizations to ensure services to the victims; and identifies policy gaps and recommends for changes.

Sub purpose I: Expanded civil society space by promoting citizen and government engagement

Sub-purpose II: Support civil society capacity building and networking space for collective actions at national and regional levels

Expected Change:

Project aims to strengthen the capacity of government and non-government organizations/ service providers to provide protection and assistance services to vulnerable and potential migrants and TiP victims. Also develop referral mechanism to ensure effective responses from multiple service providers.

Key intervention:

Identify policy gaps and recommends for changes: Capacitated CSOs, Migrant Worker Societies, activist and sensitive media community to combat TiP and promote safe migration in Sri Lanka and influences changes in policy and it’s implementation.

Empowers Civil Society Organization to combat human trafficking and illegal migration at community level: Project mobilizes target community to promote existing/ newly formed community based self-help groups (migrant workers society) to work on the human trafficking and illegal migration issue; they eventually voice against the issue and form solidarity with the victims to resolve their issues.

Capacitates government and non-government organizations to ensure services to the victims: A mapping of available services for victims of trafficking, safe migration and protection services. Then the project will strengthen the capacity of service providing government and non-government organizations. It also develops referral mechanism to ensure effective responses from multiple service providers.

The impact

With the support of divisional inputs, district level monitoring mechanism to combat human trafficking will operate.

At village level, community mobilized to voice against illegal migration and TiP

Civil Society actions complement and strengthen Government response to illegal migration and TiP at divisional, district, provincial/ National level

Feeding from the ground, evidence based advocacy gets momentum to push for necessary changes to address the gap in policy and implementation regarding safe migration

Families of potential persons to migrate, will take informed and appropriate decision for their children and families so that to enjoy their rights in long run.

All of the above will lead to normalize the life and prosperity of victims of illegal migration and TiP; persons seeking to work abroad/ migrate, will enjoy safe migration process by receiving necessary services from Government and other sources in Northern region in long run.