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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Police Arrest Child Trafficking

VZCZCXRO0718
OO RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #0423 1201313
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291313Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8056
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0861
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7854
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 6035
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4370
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1992
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 4367
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3462
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 8459
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5926
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0633
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2734
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000423

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ELAB SMIG KCRM KFRD KWMN CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: POLICE ARREST CHILD TRAFFICKING
SUSPECTS; RECRUITMENT AGENTS DISCUSS BEST PRACTICES

REF: COLOMBO 215

1. On April 28, the National Child Protection Authority
disclosed the arrest of four suspects involved in trafficking
more than 20 children to Singapore over an extended period of
time. NCPA Chairman Jagath Wellawatta said that in January,
three Sri Lankan children, ages 11,13, and 14, were found
deserted at the Singapore airport. They were flown back to
Sri Lanka last week at NCPA expense and are currently under
the care of the Salvation Army. The parents of the children,
who allegedly sold them for Rs. 1.8 million (USD 18,000)
each, were taken into custody for questioning. The parents
say the children, who were residents of Jaffna, were sent
abroad with the parents' consent because of the prevailing
security situation. According to the NCPA, the alleged
traffickers were attempting to take the children to the
United Kingdom on false Malaysian passports.

2. Separately, two groups of employment agents from Sri
Lanka and Kuwait met in Kuwait on April 23 to discuss the
problems of Sri Lankan migrant workers. Over 100 employment
agents attended. The Association of Licensed Foreign
Employment Agents of Sri Lanka (ALFEA) and the Sri Lankan
Manpower Association of Kuwait (SLMAK) agreed that the
industry should take responsibility for the welfare of
workers and address problems that are giving the industry a
"bad name." On April 24, the two groups signed a memorandum
of understanding pledging to "do good business and ensure
people are protected." The groups discussed the importance
of preventing abuse of workers by their employers, making
sure proper contracts are signed, and ensuring that agreed
upon wages are paid on time.

3. COMMENT: The arrest of four individuals involved in a
child trafficking ring is welcome news and shows increased
involvement of the GSL in anti-trafficking efforts. Post
finds it encouraging that the migrant labor industry in Sri
Lanka is taking some responsibility for ensuring the welfare
of its workers. Ambassador will meet with the NCPA head
later this week to urge the GSL to follow through with
prosecuting these trafficking cases. Embassy will also
follow up with recruitment agents, through their umbrella
association, to make sure these promises are put into action.
BLAKE

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