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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Government Outlines Efforts to Combat

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001304

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS
MCC FOR D NASSIRY AND E BURKE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: GOVERNMENT OUTLINES EFFORTS TO COMBAT
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

REF: A. COLOMBO 1188
B. STATE 113842
C. COLOMBO 1031
D. COLOMBO 943
E. STATE 71163

1. (SBU) Summary. DCM and Poloff recently met with GSL
officials from the Foreign Employment Bureau, the National
Child Protection Authority, the Ministry of Women's
Empowerment and Child Development, and the Sri Lanka Police
to present the Department's TIP Action Plan and follow up on
an August 23 meeting with the Foreign Secretary on this
issue. Our GSL interlocutors outlined steps they have
already taken to address TIP and additional measures that are
underway. Officials throughout the GSL have a clear
understanding of the TIP problem and are eager to work with
the U.S. to make improvements. End Summary.

FEB Closely Monitors Migrant Labor
-----------------------------------

2. (U) DCM and Poloff met with Chairman of the Foreign
Employment Bureau (FEB) Kingsley Ranawaka on August 29.
Ranawaka noted FEB's efforts to ensure that migrant workers
are placed in legitimate positions. He said the FEB must
approve the employment contracts of all Sri Lankans traveling
abroad on a work visa. In an effort to make recruitment
agents more accountable for their placements, he has recently
changed FEB regulations to require that the agent appear
before an FEB officer with the worker and sign the employment
contract. He noted that disreputable foreign agents, once
identified by Embassy officials, are placed on a "blacklist"
so that contracts involving those agents will no longer be
approved. The Workers Welfare Fund, he added, pays to send
10 to 15 abused workers per month back to Sri Lanka. These
workers are met at the airport by FEB officers and provided
financial assistance. Ranawaka said he is working to
establish new guidelines that would ensure medical care for
returnees and a system to monitor their rehabilitation.

Raising Awareness of Child Trafficking and Prostitution
--------------------------------------------- ------------

3. (U) On September 4, Poloff met with Chairman of the
National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) Jagath Wellawatta.
He emphasized the NCPA's efforts to raise awareness of child
trafficking for sex tourism along the coastal belt of Sri
Lanka. The NCPA is conducting awareness programs in
Anuradhapura and Kandy this year. In addition, NCPA plans to
visit 23 vocational training centers set up by the Foreign
Employment Bureau to speak to young women about the risks of
trafficking associated with foreign employment. The NCPA is
working to make sure victim assistance services are available
to children, including special hospital wards for child
prostitution victims and seven "certified schools" which
provide shelter and rehabilitation for children who are
rescued from prostitution. The NCPA has its own police unit,
which investigates cases of child trafficking and
prostitution.

A New GSL TIP Focal Point
--------------------------

4. (U) On September 9, Poloff met again with Secretary of
the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Development
Indrani Sugathadasa, whom the Foreign Secretary recently
designated as the GSL focal point on TIP issues. Sugathadasa
encouraged the Embassy to raise the issue of human
trafficking with the Inspector General of Police. She noted
that the police have the largest role to play in ensuring
that offenders are held accountable. She agreed with the

COLOMBO 00001304 002 OF 002


Foreign Secretary's earlier suggestion (ref A) that a GSL TIP
working group would improve interagency coordination, and
undertook to follow up on the idea in October. She also
offered to organize a GSL-hosted roundtable event, including
NGOs and the diplomatic community, to raise awareness on TIP.
She highlighted for Poloff the efforts of the Worker's
Welfare Fund and Sri Lankan embassies abroad in providing
assistance to migrant workers who find themselves in
difficult situations. Once they return, she added, migrant
workers can make use of shelters that offer rehabilitation
services for abused women, including psychiatric care. She
noted that one shelter opened in Kalutara in June and another
will open soon near Colombo.

Police Eager to Tackle TIP
---------------------------

5. (U) On September 17, DCM, ARSO, and Poloff met Inspector
General of Police Victor Perera and senior police officials
who have direct oversight of anti-trafficking functions. The
police noted that training on TIP has been expanded
significantly, including increased in-service training,
district level anti-trafficking training through the Women's
and Children's Bureau, and a NCPA training program. An
anti-trafficking program has also been incorporated into the
basic training program for police officers. The officials
said a pending bill on witness protection and victim
assistance, once passed, will make it much easier for them to
investigate trafficking cases and improve Sri Lanka's
conviction rate. They expect the new legislation to embolden
more victims to testify against their abusers. The police
highlighted a number of recently launched investigations of
recruitment agents and sub-agents involved in trafficking
cases.

6. (SBU) COMMENT: Officials throughout the GSL seem to
have a clear understanding of the TIP problem in Sri Lanka,
and of what needs to be done to address it. They have taken
steps over the past few years to make legal and procedural
changes that will improve the country's TIP record. The
officials we met seemed eager to work with the U.S. to make
further improvements. The police, in particular, impressed
us as being highly motivated to fight trafficking. Our
assistance will help address resource and capacity
constraints within the GSL to ensure continued progress.
Emboffs have discussed with GSL officials the development of
benchmarks with which to measure progress in fighting
trafficking (ref A). We will forward these proposed
benchmarks in the near future to G/TIP for review.
BLAKE

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