Cablegate: Sri Lanka: The Seventh Annual Anti-Trafficking in Persons
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SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: THE SEVENTH ANNUAL ANTI-TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
REF: STATE 202745
(U) This message is sensitive but unclassified -- please
1. (U) Mission's submission for the seventh annual Anti-Trafficking
in Persons (TIP) Report for Sri Lanka follows. Responses are keyed
to questions in Reftel. Mission point of contact is poloff Anamika
Chakravorty, telephone +94-11-249-8822, fax +94-11-249-8820.
Paragraph 27: Sri Lanka Overview
2. (SBU) A -- Sri Lanka is a country of transit, a source country,
and a destination country for a small number of internationally
trafficked men, women and children. Women and children of Sri Lanka
are trafficked internally for domestic labor and sexual
exploitation. The trafficking takes place in government controlled
areas as well as in areas controlled by the Liberation Tigers of
Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization
under U.S. law. The LTTE conscripted children, both through
recruitment and abductions, for purposes of forced labor and
military activities. According to a 2006 UN report, the government
has not taken adequate efforts to control the anti-LTTE Karuna
faction's recruitment of children into its paramilitary.
A cont'd -- Reports also indicate that women from Thailand, China,
Russia and countries of the Newly Independent States are trafficked
into Sri Lanka for commercial sexual exploitation. A fair number of
Sri Lankan women are trafficked to the Middle East countries and a
smaller number to Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea for hard
domestic labor and sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked
internally. There are no reliable statistics available on the
magnitude of this issue. The sources of information on trafficking
in persons can be obtained from the National Child Protection
Authority (NCPA), the Child Protection Unit of the Attorney
General's Department, Sri Lankan Police, local and international
NGOs, and the press. The NCPA provides fairly reliable statistics on
cases involving children.
B -- According to government and NGO sources, trends in trafficking
did not change from the last reporting period. Despite a law passed
in April 2006 to criminalize trafficking in persons, there were no
reliable statistics on the crime of trafficking as disaggregated
from human smuggling, illegal immigration, prostitution,
procurement, or kidnapping. However, there remains political will
throughout the government, including at high levels, to combat
trafficking in persons. The government provided human resources to
the Anti-Human Smuggling Investigation Bureau that was established
in 2003. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs continued to assign Welfare
Officers to Sri Lanka Missions abroad to aid and assist women who
are victims of trafficking.
B cont'd -- Victims subjected to trafficking came from poor, rural
communities, with minimal educational opportunities. Internally
Displaced Persons and war widows remained especially vulnerable.
Some women who came to cities seeking garment industry work were
trafficked into commercial sex work, and some women seeking
employment as domestics overseas were taken under false promises and
forced into slave labor conditions or commercial sex work. Although
the Bureau of Foreign Employment has a mandate to vet recruitment
agents, sub-agents are not vetted. Reports indicated some
sub-agents acted unscrupulously, recruiting women from villages
under false pretenses. The women, often illiterate, were unaware of
the parameters of the contracts they signed, and many times their
travel documents were confiscated when they arrived at their place
of employment. However, of the estimated 1 million Sri Lankan women
who obtain foreign employment, statistics indicate only 5 to 10
percent encounter problems, including issues unrelated to
trafficking per se.
C -- The government lacked resources to provide proper training to
law enforcement officials or adequate compensation or support for
trafficking victims. Law enforcement officials addressed the end
results of trafficking such as commercial sex work or child labor.
However, trafficking itself was rarely investigated, perhaps due to
police unawareness of the degree of the problem, exacerbated by
D -- The Child Protection Unit of AG's Dept and the NCPA, supported
by the Woman and Child Care unit of the Sri Lanka Police, conduct
surveys on trafficking issues but currently no reliable surveys on
trafficking in Sri Lanka are available. Also, the government does
not have separate statistics on human smuggling, abductions, and
trafficking, making it difficult for NGOs to gain access to accurate
Paragraph 28: Prevention
3. (SBU) A -- The government in Sri Lanka acknowledges that
trafficking is a problem in the country. However, NGO
representatives noted that the government does not usually use
existing anti-trafficking legislation to prosecute cases. Rather,
perpetrators are brought up on charges of abduction or procurement.
While the government maintains its commitment to address trafficking
in persons issues, the GSL devotes much more of its resources to two
related issues-- human smuggling and domestic violence-- which it
considers more severe.
B -- The government agencies involved in anti-trafficking efforts
are: the Department of Immigration and Emigration, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the Attorney
General's Office, the Ministry of Justice, Sri Lankan Police, Sri
Lankan Customs, National Child Protection Authority.
C -- In 2006, the Foreign Employment Bureau instituted a program
requiring private foreign employment agencies to submit deposits of
bonds to register the companies. The deposits may be used to assist
any migrant worker stranded overseas due to trafficking or other
migration emergency circumstances. The agency will lose its deposit
if it is proven responsible for a trafficking incident. Also in the
last year, the Foreign Employment Bureau signed Memoranda of
Understanding with Jordan, Malaysia, and South Korea, to limit
incidences of Sri Lankans being trafficked to these countries and to
cooperate on the issue. The Government of Sri Lanka is preparing to
sign an MoU with Dubai in 2007.
C cont'd -- In October 2006, the Tourist Board of Sri Lanka
partnered with UNICEF to launch a National Action Plan Project to
eradicate child sex tourism in Sri Lanka. The Ministry of Tourism,
UNICEF, Hoteliers' Association, Airlines, the Police, Department of
Immigration and Emigration, and authorities of sea and air ports
participated in drawing up this National Action Plan. In addition,
the Child Protection Unit of the Attorney Genera's Department
conducted awareness programs amonglaw enforcement authorities,
schools and other cvil society organizations. They extended their
services to UNICEF and provided resources to train senior police
officers to handle investigations with greater effectiveness. The
NCPA, as part of its overall efforts to address child welfare,
includes child trafficking as part of its educational campaigns.
D -- While the government of Sri Lanka does not actively support
corollary programs to combat trafficking, it does, with the limited
resources available, support prevention programs, usually in
partnership with NGOs. The International Organization for Migration
(IOM) conducts information campaigns and workshops, and employs a
threefold strategy to combat trafficking in persons: prevention,
protection and assistance to victims and capacity building. The
American Solidarity Center and International Labor Organization
operate in Sri Lanka and make information on trafficking readily
available, and several local NGOs provide assistance to victims as
part of their larger outreach efforts to women who have suffered
domestic or physical abuse.
E -- The officials of international NGOs, indigenous community-based
organizations working to combat trafficking, and officials of
government agencies involved in anti-trafficking efforts maintain a
positive working relationship.
F -- IOM is working with the Department of Immigration and
Emigration to institute a computerized database that will permit to
government to monitor migration trends and identify potential
victims of trafficking. The government has welcomed IOM's
assistance and is making efforts to institutionalize the new system.
Also, when the Department of Immigration and Emigration next prints
Disembarkation Cards, a new clause will be included stating "Sri
Lanka has a Zero Tolerance policy towards child abuse."
The Sri Lankan government makes every effort to adequately monitor
its borders, but remains unable to monitor activities in areas
controlled by the LTTE in the north and east.
G -- There is no coordinating mechanism or group to specifically
address trafficking in persons. While there is an "anti-trafficking
working group," NGO representatives asserted that the body primarily
addresses human smuggling and illegal immigration rather than
trafficking. The government has a Commission to Investigate
Allegations of Bribery or Corruption.
H -- The government of Sri Lanka does not have a national
plan of action to address trafficking in persons.
Paragraph 29: Investigations and Prosecution
4. (SBU) A -- Section 360C of the Penal Code, amended by Act No. 22
of 1995, criminalizes trafficking in persons, defined as the buying
or selling or bartering of a person for money or other
consideration, and also engaging in certain acts for the purpose of
promoting, facilitating or inducing the buying or selling or
bartering or the placement in adoption of any person for money or
any other consideration. Under Section 360A of the Penal Code,
internal and transnational forms of prostitution are also
criminalized. Additionally, Section 45A(1) of the Immigrants and
Emigrants Act addresses human smuggling offenses. The IOM provided
the Attorney General's office with legal consultation, and in
January 2006, the office introduced legislation to further bolster
Sri Lanka's penal code in accordance with UN guidelines on
trafficking. In April 2006, the government enacted a law
specifically criminalizing all forms of trafficking in persons. The
April 2006 law fully addresses trafficking, including for the
purpose of removing organs.
B -- Trafficking for sexual exploitation is punishable by
imprisonment between 2 and 20 years, with fines ranging from
approximately USD 100 to 500. The amendment to the penal code
covering trafficking, written in collaboration with IOM and enacted
in April, calls for labor exploitation to be punishable by 2 to 10
C -- A law implemented in 2006 establishes the punishment for debt
bondage, serfdom, forced or compulsory labor, or slavery as
imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years and a monetary
fine. When children are the victims of such crimes or are recruited
for involvement in armed conflict, the punishment is imprisonment
for a term not exceeding thirty years and a monetary fine. A 2006
amendment to the penal code also states that a creditor cannot
require manual labor in exchange for debt repayment.
D -- For sexual assault, imprisonment ranges between 7 and 20 years,
plus potential monetary compensation to the victim. These penalties
are similar to those for trafficking.
E -- In Sri Lanka, prostitution is not legalized and the activities
of prostitutes are criminalized. The activities of related parties,
such as brothel owners, pimps, clients, and enforcers, are also
F -- The government investigated and arrested people for
trafficking-related cases during the past year, including issues of
migrant smuggling, pedophilia and prostitution. The Women and
Children's Bureau of the Police reported that it is prosecuting the
owners of two bars in which trafficking victims were engaged in
commercial sex work under the April 2006 anti-trafficking
regulations. The police said these prosecutions would serve as
"test cases" to highlight the new law and learn the degree of its
efficacy. The cases remain pending.
G -- Anecdotal accounts from police and NGOs revealed that
individuals and small groups were behind trafficking efforts, but no
reliable information on the issue exists. In cases of illegal
migration, evidence suggests that some travel agencies may be
involved with traffickers. There are no reports of profits of
trafficking being channeled for other purposes other than personal
H -- Notwithstanding its limited resources, the government actively
investigates cases of trafficking and, by implementing a
computerized immigration system that enables agencies to input names
of suspected traffickers, the government takes initiative to track
down suspected trafficking agents. The CyberWatch Project that
monitors internet sites and chat rooms, instituted by the NCPA, has
helped to arrest individuals on suspicion of trafficking.
I -- The government does not provide any centralized training in
trafficking issues. Individually, police bureaus, such as the
Anti-Human Smuggling Unit of the Criminal Investigation Department
and the Women's and the Children's Bureau, along with the NCPA,
conduct specialized training for their staff.
J -- The government of Sri Lanka cooperates with other governments
in the investigation and/or prosecution of trafficking cases. On
many occasions, the government has worked very closely with the
Italian and Pakistani governments to combat human smuggling
operations. In 2005, in cooperation with the American and the
Australian governments, the NCPA prosecuted a U.S. national and an
Australian national alleged to be pedophiles.
K -- The government has not extradited anyone charged with
trafficking to other countries, as the situation has not occurred.
The government would likely extradite any foreigner charged with
such offenses, if requested by other governments. The government has
extradition agreements with Commonwealth countries.
L -- There is no credible evidence of government involvement in, or
tolerance of, trafficking in persons. Unsubstantiated reports allude
to immigration officers in involvement of such cases.
M -- There has been insufficient evidence to arrest or otherwise
prosecute government officials suspected of being involved in
trafficking in persons.
N -- In 2004, the government arrested two foreign nationals, an
American and an Australian, on charges of pedophilia. In 2005, a
British citizen was charged with pedophilia. The American was
deported to the U.S., and the other two remain in prison in Sri
Lanka awaiting trial.
O -- The GSL ratified the SAARC Convention on Preventing and
Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution in
-- The GSL ratified ILO Convention 105 in January 2003.
-- The GSL ratified ILO Convention 182 in February
-- The GSL ratified ILO Convention 29 in 1950.
-- The GSL has signed the Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child
prostitution and child pornography.
-- The GSL has signed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress
and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children,
supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized
Paragraph 30: Protection and Assistance to Victims
5. (SBU) A -- The government does not have enough resources,
capacity and ability to assist victims of trafficking. There are
rehabilitation camps and community centers which offer some medical
and counseling services for victims of internal trafficking. In
addition, some NGOs run shelters and rehabilitation facilities.
B -- The government does not provide funding or material support to
foreign or domestic NGOs for services to victims. To child victims
registered with the NGOs, the government provides a three USD/per
month food supplement. Children who are victims are transferred to
institutions such as the Salvation Army under the escort of the
Ministry of Social Services' Department of Probation and Child Care
C -- The government's law enforcement and social services personnel
do not have a formal system in place to identify potential
trafficking victims. NGOs occasionally receive reports of victims
and offer assistance, and the government is cooperative in these
D -- Women arrested on suspicion of being trafficked into Sri Lanka
for the purpose of prostitution are sometimes released upon paying a
fine. There are no reports of harassment of victims.
E -- The government encourages victims to assist in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking by providing
information to arrest the traffickers. Sri Lankan victims can file
Fundamental Rights cases and seek financial restitution. There are
no restrictions on obtaining other employment or leaving the country
if a victim is a witness in a case against a former employer. There
is no victim restitution program.
F -- In connection with some Sri Lankan diplomatic missions,
especially in Middle Eastern countries, the Sri Lankan government
operates shelters for Sri Lankans who are victims of sexual or labor
exploitation. The Bureau of Foreign Employment appoints labor
attaches to Sri Lankan diplomatic missions abroad to address the
concerns of migrant Sri Lankan workers, but limited resources
sometimes lead to heavy caseloads and minimal assistance being
provided. In early 2007 the Executive Secretary of the Ministry of
Women's Empowerment and Child Protection traveled to several Middle
Eastern Countries to visit Sri Lankan women in prisons and shelters
G -- The government does not provide any specialized training as
such for its officials in trafficking issues. Individually, police
bureaus, such as the Anti-Human Smuggling Unit of the Criminal
Investigation Department and the Women's and the Children's Bureau,
along with the NCPA, conduct specialized training for their staff.
H -- For Sri Lankans who are victims of trafficking, either through
sexual or labor exploitation, the government will provide some
compensation to the victims who registered with the Sri Lankan
Foreign Employment Bureau prior to departing.
I -- Save the Children Foundation, ESCAPE, Don Bosco, Salvation
Army, ILO, IOM, American Solidarity Center, Women in Media
Collective, Women in Need, PEACE, Caritas, and a number of
community- based organizations work with trafficking victims. The
government works closely with these organizations to develop a
relationship with local authorities, but it is the NGO that makes
the initial effort.