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Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers considers the report of Sri Lanka

Committee on Rights of Migrant Workers

2 September 2016

The Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families today concluded its consideration of the second periodic report of Sri Lanka on its implementation of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

Introducing the report, Ravinatha Aryasinha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that migration from Sri Lanka was not a new phenomenon, and over the years, Sri Lanka had built the necessary legal, institutional and socio-economic safeguards to address issues related to migration within the country, and in partnership with other countries.  Sri Lankans today migrated mainly to the Gulf countries and they substantially contributed to the national economy: in 2014, 1.7 million migrants abroad sent home more than US $ 7 billion in remittances.

Also introducing the report, G.S. Witanage, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Employment, said that the Sri Lankan Employment Migration Authority Act would set up a migration authority, and it would provide for the establishment of a national chamber of licensed foreign employment agencies and of a Foreign Employment Promotion Fund.  Sri Lanka was the only country in the world with a dedicated national migration health policy and action plan launched in 2012, which aimed at ensuring health and social protection to various migrant and mobile population groups.

C.A.H.M. Wijeratne, Senior Director General (Legal), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Sri Lanka had undertaken a voluntary commitment to introduce a National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2012 and in May 2016, the Cabinet had approved an Inter-Ministerial Committee tasked with developing the draft plan.  Sri Lanka had bilateral agreements with a number of destination countries in order to ensure better working conditions for Sri Lankans.

Samantha Jayasuriya, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva, recalled that Sri Lanka chaired the Colombo Process, a voluntary gathering of 12 Member States in Asia.  The Process focused on five key thematic areas, which were important catalysts for safe, orderly and regular labour migration from participating countries, which accounted for over 45 million migrants.

In the discussion that followed, Experts asked about measures taken to implement the Committee’s previous concluding observations, as well as the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants following his visit to Sri Lanka in 2014.  Women represented 49 per cent of migrant workers – more information was needed about their situation, reasons for migration and their experiences of migration, as well as about the situation of children left behind.  There was a concern that the Family Background Report, prepared for each woman with children under the age of five who sought departure authorisation, was used not as a protection tool for women and children, but rather a tool to restrict the rights of women, including the right to freedom of movement; what was the impact of this measure on the irregular migration of women? 

Experts were concerned about the criminalization of irregular migration and asked about steps taken to implement the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation in this regard and to consider irregular migration as an administrative and not a criminal offence.  The delegation was asked about measures to address persistent corruption among migration officials, especially after the introduction of Family Background Reports; and about the grounds for the adoption of special measures leading to the detention of migrants, including migrant children and their families, and whether it was true that there were migrant children who had been detained with member of their families for up to two years.

In her concluding remarks, Khedidja Ladjel, Committee Rapporteur for Sri Lanka, said that Sri Lanka was very proactive in addressing the rights of migrant workers and this should be sustained with the ratification of the International Labour Organization Conventions N°97, N°143 and N°189.

Jose Brillantes, Committee Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur for Sri Lanka, in his closing remarks, noted that Sri Lanka played a key role in the issue of migrant workers protection; its efforts against illegal recruitment and on the regulation of employment agencies offered guidance to others. 

Jasminka Džumhur, Committee Vice-Chairperson, thanked the delegation for the very comprehensive dialogue, which was a method that other States parties should use as well.

Ambassador Aryasinha said in his final remarks that Sri Lanka took the welfare of its migrant workers very seriously and sought to be at the regional and international forefront of ameliorating difficulties they faced; it would continue to do so in the future with the support of this Committee and other United Nations bodies.

The delegation of Sri Lanka included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Employment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment, and the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The concluding observations on the report of Sri Lanka will be made public on Wednesday, 7 September 2016 and will be available here.

Live webcast of the Committee’s public meetings is available at http://webtv.un.org/

The Committee will resume its work in public at 10 a.m. on Monday, 5 September, when it is scheduled to meet with States.

Report

The second periodic report of Sri Lanka can be read here: CMW/C/LKA/2.

Presentation of the Report

RAVINATHA Aryasinha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Sri Lanka had ratified the Convention in 1996 and this year had formally withdrawn the reservation to its Article 29.  Last year, Sri Lanka had extended a standing invitation to all United Nations Special Procedures mandate holders, and had had a useful engagement with the Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants who had visited the country in 2014.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights had visited Sri Lanka in February 2016, the Director General of the International Organization for Migration in August 2016, while the Secretary-General of the United Nations was currently visiting the country.  Outbound migration from Sri Lanka was not a new phenomenon and it remained as a migrant sending country, with a moderate number of inbound migrants.  The labour migration today was largely to the Gulf Cooperation Council countries which contributed substantially to the national economy through remittances.  As of 2014, some 1.7 million Sri Lankans were employed abroad impacting nearly 25 per cent of the population, who had sent home more than US $ 7 billion in remittances. 

One of the primary reasons for the large number of women migrating from Sri Lanka as domestic workers was the lack of employment opportunities beyond the traditional agriculture-based livelihood; several initiatives had been deployed to reduce the female dependency on the Middle Eastern domestic worker market, which had seen a 34 per cent reduction in the number of women migrating in 2015.  Over the years, Sri Lanka had built the necessary legal, institutional and socio-economic safeguards to address issues related to migration within the country, and in partnership with other countries.  Media freedom had been restored and all local and foreign journalists were now free to travel anywhere in the country without any restrictions; journalists living in exile had been invited to return to Sri Lanka with a guarantee of their safety.  The National Human Rights Commission had been established in 1996 and had a broad mandate to guarantee fundamental human rights enshrined in the Constitution by law and practice.  The democratic space for the private sector and civil society to engage the State and the public had broadened since early 2015, and notable improvements had taken place with respect to the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and of association, and the general protections afforded to journalists, human rights defenders and victim groups.

G.S. WITANAGE, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Employment, said that in order to harmonize the legislation with the provisions of the Convention, Sri Lanka had drafted a new piece of legislation titled Sri Lankan Employment Migration Authority Act, which would set up a migration authority, and provided for the establishment of a national chamber of licensed foreign employment agencies and of a Foreign Employment Promotion Fund.  Every possible effort was being made to provide for the welfare of the migrant workers and their families; a programme Shramika Surekuma, or Migrant Protection had been launched under which a profile of a migrant worker was prepared, which contained the family information including the welfare and protection needs of children.  A Family Background Report was prepared on migrant women seeking approval for departure who had children under five years of age, and which assessed whether the absence of the mother would lead to the exploitation of the children left behind.  Sri Lanka was the only country in the world with a dedicated national migration health policy and action plan launched in 2012, which aimed at ensuring health and social protection to various migrant and mobile population groups.  The Ministry of Foreign Employment was responsible for the implementation of the National Labour Migration Policy, which was monitored by the National Advisory Committee on Labour Migration, comprised of all key stakeholders in the field of migration, including government institutions, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, recruitment agencies, academia, civil society, trade unions and the private sector.

C.A.H.M. WIJERATNE, Senior Director General (Legal), Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Sri Lanka had undertaken a voluntary commitment to introduce a National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2012 and in May 2016, the Cabinet had approved an Inter-Ministerial Committee tasked with developing the draft plan.  An extensive consular network had been established throughout 65 diplomatic missions, while the Consular Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs provided comprehensive services through six dedicated desks, including on compensation, registration of birth, marriage and death, and repatriation.  Bilateral agreements had been signed with a number of destination countries in order to ensure better working conditions for Sri Lankans, including with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Switzerland.  The lack of labour laws in a number of destination countries which covered domestic workers hindered the elimination of abuse and exploitation of those vulnerable workers.  Some destination countries were in the process of changing the kafala system by establishing government-sponsored institutions for the recruitment of domestic workers.

SAMANTHA JAYASURIYA, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that for the past three years, Sri Lanka had been chairing the Colombo Process, a voluntary gathering of 12 Member States in Asia which were largely contractual labour migrant originating countries.  During this time, considerable strides had been made on implementing an action-oriented road map based on five key thematic areas, which were important catalysts for safe, orderly and regular labour migration from those countries, which now accounted for over 45 million individuals.  The key thematic areas included the development of qualification recognition processes, ethical labour recruitment practices, effective pre-departure orientation and empowerment, and enhancing capacities to track labour market trends.  The Colombo Process was also engaged with other dialogue fora such as the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, and the Colombo Ministerial Meeting that concluded on 25 August 2016.

Questions from the Committee Experts
 
KHEDIDJA LADJEL, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Sri Lanka, asked about measures taken to disseminate recommendations made by the Committee during Sri Lanka’s first review, and whether all stakeholders had been involved in the preparation of the second report.  The National Working Group to Combat Human Trafficking had been set up in 2010 and the delegation was asked about its remits and achievements, as well as the implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan.  Which statistics on migration were available that would reflect the magnitude of the migration phenomenon in Sri Lanka, broken down by gender and sectors of occupation?  On the complaints mechanism, the Country Rapporteur asked how the effectiveness of the existing mechanism was being evaluated, and what measures were being taken to bring the complaints mechanism closer to the migrant workers who suffered violations of their rights.  What measures were in place to dissuade migrant workers from using forged papers?  Some 49 per cent of migrant workers from Sri Lanka were female, noted Ms. Ladjel and asked whether anything was known about those vulnerable among them, how many were being detained and deprived of liberty and for which reasons, and what was known about those who disappeared.  There was a need to know more about women and their situation, why they migrated and what were their experiences of migration – was this a priority concern for the Government, and if so, were there initiatives to start research in this issue?  Of particular concern was the situation of children affected by migration, both as migrants, and as children left behind.

JOSE BRILLANTES, Committee Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur for Sri Lanka, asked about Sri Lanka’s reaction concerning the report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, Mr. François Crépeau following his visit in 2014, and what was being done to address his recommendations.  How did Sri Lanka approach the implementation of the Committee’s concluding observations, and had it ensured that the National Human Rights Commission was consulted in the preparation of the second periodic report?  Mr. Brillantes said that the Committee had received shadow reports from 39 civil society organizations and reports from nine United Nations agencies, which attested to the importance accorded to the situation of migrant workers and their families in Sri Lanka.  The common theme in those reports was the family background report, which contained information on women seeking departure approval for employment abroad and their children, and had to be approved by the local government bodies, which in fact aimed to impose restrictions on women’s rights.  The Special Rapporteur on the rights of migrants had recommended in his report that Sri Lanka should undertake systematic and independent autopsies of bodies of migrants who died abroad, many of which were mutilated and lacked organs – what was being done to ensure the implementation of this recommendation?  What steps were being taken to decriminalize unauthorised departures and emigration?

Another Expert noted that more than 40 per cent of the directors of the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Bureau came from recruitment agencies, which was a conflict of interest as the Bureau’s mission was to oversee the recruitment agencies; at the same time, women and trade unions were under-represented among the directors.  The restrictions on the free movement of women with young children, including in the form of the family background report, had reduced the number of women who migrated abroad - had the impact of those restrictions on irregular migration of women been assessed?  The delegation was asked about the grounds for the adoption of special measures by authorities leading to the detention and deprivation of liberty of migrants, including migrant children and their families, and whether it was true that there were migrant children who had been detained with members of their families for up to two years.  Which measures were being taken to implement in practice the provisions which criminalized irregular migration and how were the irregular migrants returned from Australia treated in the country?  What initiatives were in place to ensure the right to vote for Sri Lankans abroad?

A Committee Expert asked the delegation to describe the true implementation of the Convention in Sri Lanka and describe the factors that influenced how it lived up to its obligations under the Convention.  The Expert took positive note of special protection measures which had been taken to protect the welfare of migrants and their families, and remarked that those applied to Sri Lankan migrants, rather than to foreign migrant workers in Sri Lanka.  There were reports about the lack of judicial protection of Sri Lankan migrants in Qatar – how did Sri Lanka ensure the protection of the rights of citizens who suffered violations in Qatar?  What measures were in place to inform citizens abroad about the availability and access to consular services in a given country?  What system was in place to ensure that departing migrants were aware of the provisions of the Convention?  How did Sri Lanka address remittances sent home by workers abroad?

The delegation was asked about details of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, in which also Qatar participated, and about the Colombo Process which impacted the situation of 45 million migrants, more than the population of the Gulf Cooperation Council States.

Response by the Delegation

In response to questions concerning the report drafting process, a delegate explained that a series of meetings had been held with stakeholders including relevant ministries, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Employment Bureau, the National Child Protection Authority, and the National Human Rights Commission. 

The National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force had been established as an inter-institutional body and it had developed the strategic plan to monitor and combat human trafficking in Sri Lanka 2015-2019, which had subsequently been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.  The Task Force had also developed a Standard Operating Procedure to increase identification, referral and protection of victims of human trafficking, while the first government shelter for victims of trafficking had been established.  The Ministry for Women Affairs had developed shelter guidelines and staff working at the shelter had been provided with comprehensive training.  The Penal Code criminalized procuration for sexual exploitation and this offence was encompassed under the broader definition of human trafficking.  Mechanisms were in place to identify and distinguish labour trafficking cases from a mere employment dispute; if the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment had reason to believe that a complaint was in any way linked to human trafficking, it would refer the case to the Criminal Investigation Department.  The Bureau had established a new unit on anti-trafficking which exclusively handled suspected cases of human trafficking and obtained the necessary assistance from the Criminal Investigation Department.   

With regard to questions on readmission agreements, a delegate said that Sri Lanka had readmission agreements with the European Union and a number of other States on a bilateral basis.  Sri Lanka was also implementing an Assisted Voluntary Return and Repatriation Programme in Sri Lanka, which provided assistance to vulnerable Sri Lankan individuals and families who chose to return home but did not have the means to do so.  The National Coordinating Committee on Readmission had been established as a first step in streamlining the readmission process, under a project funded by the European Union and supported by the International Organization for Migration.  It guided and negotiated readmission agreements between Sri Lanka and other countries, and oversaw their operationalization.

Sri Lanka had undertaken a voluntary commitment to introduce a National Human Rights Action Plan 2017-2021, under which the ratification of other international conventions related to the rights of migrants would be considered, including a number of International Labour Organization Conventions.

A delegate stressed that the reports of some 300 bodies of migrants who had died abroad and who were missing organs were not true, what happened was that organs had been taken posthumously for further autopsy and investigations.  There were no visa restrictions on anyone wishing to come to Sri Lanka at the moment.

Concerning complaints mechanisms available to migrant workers who were victims of rights violations, a delegate explained that they could lodge a complaint through the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment as well as through diplomatic missions abroad.  All complaints were registered and lodged and were examined by the labour sections of the diplomatic missions.  The Sri Lankan Bureau had a section on foreign labour disputes, which examined the complaints, and if needed took legal action should negotiation and settlement efforts fail; it also maintained a 24/7 help line through which complaints could be lodged.

Following the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers in 2007 restricting mothers of children under the age of five to leave for overseas employment, the Ministry of Foreign Employment had issued a circular in 2013, under which the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment requested mothers seeking departure approval to provide a Family Background Report, which contained information on the migrant worker and her children.  The report had to be signed by the local government bodies with their recommendation.  Based on the information given in the Family Background Report, the Sri Lankan Bureau would decide whether the absence of the mother would lead to exploitative situations for the children left behind.  However, this matter was being taken up by the Cabinet of Ministers which was currently revisiting the matter.  The concern of the Government was to protect the rights and welfare of the children left behind by their mothers who departed for work abroad.

With regard to the implementation of recommendations in the report by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants who had visited Sri Lanka in 2014, a delegate said that Sri Lanka had taken the note of the report with appreciation and thanked the Special Rapporteur for the initiative to host a workshop on recruitment practices, in which more than 100 individuals had participated.  Sri Lanka placed migration very high on its national development policy and was aware of the challenges to be addressed.  Turning to the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation, a delegate said, on the question of a zero recruitment fee, that the possibility of removing the fee and establishing a mechanism to protect migrants from exorbitant recruitment fees was being considered.  The Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Agency was the only State-owned recruitment agency; it was established in 1996 and was under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Employment.  It had been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 quality certificate in 2013.  The Agency competed with other licensed recruitment agencies to provide employment opportunities at a lower cost while ensuring the welfare and protection of migrants.  While all efforts were employed to reduce the costs of recruitment, it was considered that zero recruitment fee was not a viable option at the moment.

Concerning the decriminalization of irregular migration, Sri Lanka was taking measures to prevent all forms of irregular migration, trafficking in persons and smuggling of human beings, and noted the Special Rapporteur’s remarks that irregular migration should be considered an administrative and not a criminal offence.  Currently, there were only 784 refugees and 695 asylum seekers in the country; there was a working arrangement between the Government and the United Nations Refugee Agency since 2007, under which the Government supported the mandate of the United Nations Refugee Agency in Sri Lanka.  Detention of irregular migrants happened in accordance with the law, and it was not the intention of Sri Lanka to detain children and their families; when this happened, those foreigners were kept in adequate places.  Any person who violated the Immigrants and Emigrants Act would be detained until such moment in which their removal from the country could be arranged.  Those who did not have documents or financial means to return to their country of origin were kept in the migrant detention centre until appropriate arrangements for their deportation were made.

The Special Rapporteur had remained very engaged with Sri Lanka and later in 2014 he had invited Sri Lanka as the Chair of the Colombo Process to participate in a dialogue in Geneva on ethical recruitment practices.  His visit had been an important one as it had taken place after a long hiatus in visits to Sri Lanka by Special Procedures.

On the Colombo Process, which Sri Lanka had been chairing for the past three years, the head of the delegation said that the Colombo Declaration had been adopted last week and it charted the course of the process for the next several years.  Sri Lanka was conscious that improving the lot of the migrant workers, particularly in the Gulf, involved many people and institutions in order to ensure that due process was followed and that countries adhered to the Convention.  The Colombo Process ensured that Sri Lankan migrants to the Gulf countries were sufficiently equipped and empowered, including through the qualification recognition process which allowed migrants to move within the hierarchy of jobs relevant to their qualifications.  There were an estimated 45 million migrant workers from Asia in the Gulf region.  The Colombo Process also focused on pre-departure preparations, with a focus on migrant health; promotion of cheaper and safer transfer of remittances to protect migrant workers from exorbitant fees and costs of transfer; and on setting up a mechanism for the monitoring of labour market trends.  Another important aspect in this process was on operationalizing the migration-related goals in the Sustainable Development Goals and finding ways and means of tangibly participating in this debate.  The protection of migrant women and children from abuse and exploitation should be ensured.

The current National Human Rights Action Plan would come to an end in 2016, and the Inter-Ministerial Committee had been established in May 2016 in order to draft the following National Action Plan on Human Rights for the period 2017-2021.  The National Action Plan would contain activities in 10 key areas, including civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, prevention of torture, human rights of women, children’s rights, rights of migrants, rights of internally displaced persons, rights of persons with disabilities and environmental rights.

Sri Lanka had very good cooperation with Australia, including on preventing human smuggling and the return of irregular migrants from Australia, and the cooperation between the two national law enforcement agencies.  Additionally, Australia was supporting Sri Lanka in amending its legislation on smuggling of human beings.  Immigration and Border Management Agencies of the two countries were discussing new agreements which would enhance the existing cooperation. 

In order to address the root causes of the movement of persons, countries in the region under the leadership of Australia had put in place a regional platform for cooperation known as the Bali Process on people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime.  Special attention was being given to the irregular movement of persons and its root causes; the Jakarta Declaration had acknowledged that the root causes of migration were complex and the commitment to addressing the root causes was understood as the individual responsibility of States, based on the principle of national sovereignty and the principle of non-interference in internal affairs.

The Ministry of Foreign Employment was responsible for the implementation of the National Labour Migration Policy, which was monitored by the National Advisory Committee on Labour Migration, comprised of all the key stakeholders relevant to the labour migration in the country, including government institutions, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, recruitment agencies and others.  A special project based on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee was being implemented with the technical assistance of the International Labour Organization and the financial support of the Swiss Development Cooperation.  The National Advisory Committee met every three months and the last meeting had taken place in June 2016.

Questions by the Committee Experts

KHEDIDJA LADJEL, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Sri Lanka, thanked the delegation for the wealth of data provided to the Committee and asked whether two days of training in the context of pre-departure preparation was sufficient considering the complexity and the volume of information to disseminate to departing migrants.  Based on the data the Committee had, 49 per cent of migrant workers were women – were they covered with a social protection network to ensure that their basic needs were covered?  Consular services were the key aspect of diplomatic services: how were those services organized to provide support, including psychosocial, to detained migrants?

JOSE BRILLANTES, Committee Chairperson and Rapporteur for Sri Lanka, asked whether Sri Lanka would review the 2002 National Labour Migration Policy to make it more comprehensive, including incorporating the focus on migrant workers in irregular situations and deciding which budget was allocated for the implementation of that particular policy.  The delegation was also asked about the intent to ratify several International Labour Organization Conventions; about measures taken to prevent and sanction the persistent corruption of migration officials, particularly since the entry into force of the circular establishing Family Background Reports; and the support provided to returning migrants with disabilities.

Another Committee Expert inquired about the detention of children, which the delegation said was an exceptional measure, and under which circumstances the detention of children was approved; how the practice of immediate removal guaranteed the right to due process; the situation with Family Background Reports if a woman seeking departure approval had a child under the age of five with a disability; and how the rights of migrants were integrated in the interception and return measures in the context of the agreement with Australia on irregular migration.

JASMINKA DŽUMHUR, Committee Vice-Chairperson, noted that the National Human Rights Commission currently enjoyed Status B under the Paris Principles and asked what was being done to improve its status.  The Vice-Chairperson asked about the status and composition of the Sri Lankan Foreign Employment Agency, how migrant workers were therein represented, and what was the process of its independent supervision of recruitment agencies and processes in the country.

Response by the Delegation

In response to issues raised by the Experts, a delegate said that Sri Lanka would consider the inclusion of the provisions of the Convention in the pre-departure training programmes.  There were a number of women who, for cultural reasons, refused to use the services of the shelter for victims of trafficking in persons, also in order to avoid further victimization. 

Concerning complaints mechanisms for rights violations that were available to migrant workers, a delegate explained that in addition to existing mechanisms, Ministries of Labour in countries of destination were also dealing with the issue, and in some of them there were systems which would blacklist employers who were abusive of their domestic workers.

The National Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force had taken steps to address the corruption of migration officials and had taken action against 26 officials from the Sri Lankan Bureau of Foreign Employment, whose employment had already been terminated.  Additionally, there were more than 80 cases of corruption of staff of private recruitment agencies which were pending.

With Australia, the cooperation under the Bali Process did not address only irregular migration, but larger issues of regional cooperation, including addressing root causes of migration and supporting the integration of migrant workers.

Concluding Remarks

KHEDIDJA LADJEL, Committee Expert and Co-Rapporteur for Sri Lanka, commended the delegation for the information provided to the Committee and hailed the lifting of the reservation on Article 29 which would ensure that the domestic legislation was harmonized with international standards.  Sri Lanka was very proactive in addressing the rights of migrant workers and this should be sustained with the ratification of the International Labour Organization Conventions N°97, N°143 and N°189.

JOSE BRILLANTES, Committee Chairperson and Co-Rapporteur for Sri Lanka, expressed appreciation for the level, number and the composition of the delegation, the quality of the responses and the genuine effort to provide the requisite level of detail.  Sri Lanka played a key role in the issue of migrant workers protection; its efforts against illegal recruitment and on the regulation of employment agencies offered guidance to others.  It continued to play a leadership role in the Colombo Process, in the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, and in the Global Forum on Migration and Development.  It must be remembered that, while much had been achieved, much was expected too, and that was why Sri Lanka was examined with a more demanding and more scrutinized manner.  The concluding observations based on the dialogue, and the submissions the Committee had received would be beneficial for the country.

JASMINKA DŽUMHUR, Committee Vice-Chairperson, thanked the delegation for a very comprehensive dialogue, which was a method that other State parties should use as well.

RAVINATHA Aryasinha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee Experts and all those who had participated in the preparatory work and had submitted shadow reports.  Sri Lanka took the welfare of its migrant workers very seriously and recognized that they faced some serious challenges.  Sri Lanka therefore sought to be at the forefront of ameliorating some of those difficulties on the regional and international levels, and would continue to do so in the future with the support of this Committee and other United Nations and like-minded international bodies.