Sri Lanka sets up Safe Migration Promotion Unit at airport to prevent human trafficking

(LANKAPUVATH | COLOMBO) – A ‘Safe Migration Promotion Unit (SMPU)’ has been established at the Bandaranaike International Airport premises in Katunayake for primary and secondary examination of Sri Lankan migrant workers.

Minister of Labor and Foreign Employment Manusha Nanayakkara Monday opened the unit established to prevent Sri Lankans migrant workers becoming victims of human trafficking.

This unit was established on the instructions given by the Select Committee of Parliament to look into and report to Parliament its recommendations to ensure gender equity and equality with special emphasis on looking into gender-based discriminations and violations of women’s rights in Sri Lanka.

This unit, established with the aim of preventing Sri Lankans going abroad on tourist visas from becoming victims of human trafficking and providing proper guidance to Sri Lankan migrant workers, is expected to focus more attention on those who primarily go to Malaysia, Oman, Dubai and Abu Dhabi on tourist visas.

The SMPU will be in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the airport premises.

This unit, operated under the leadership of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (NAHTTF) established under the Ministry of Defense, consists of the officers of Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), Department of Immigration and Emigration (DIE), Criminal Investigation Department (CID), and State Intelligence Service (SIS) with a major contribution from the SLBFE to its operations.

The unit can achieve its objectives more efficiently, since it is possible to cover various aspects related to the field of migration by working together in several organizations that contribute to the prevention of illegal foreign employment and human trafficking, the Minister said.

It is hoped that the experience gained by reviewing the daily reports obtained by this unit which was established as a pilot project for three months, and paying attention to the new trends in the world related to human trafficking, will lead to the next steps to prevent Sri Lankan migrant workers from becoming victims of human trafficking.

The Select Committee of Parliament to ensure gender equity and equality in May instructed the respective authorities to implement a ‘Safe Migration Promotion Unit’ as a three-month pilot program to prevent illegal migration following the November 2022 human trafficking incident reported in Oman.

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