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Cablegate: Sri Lanka/Maldives: 2003 Annual Trafficking

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 COLOMBO 000342

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR SA/INS, G/TIP, G. INL, DRL, PRM, IWI
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR/PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KCRM KWMN SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB CE MV
SUBJECT: Sri Lanka/Maldives: 2003 annual Trafficking
in Persons (TIP) report

Ref: (A) State 22225

- (B) 02 Colombo 380

(U) This message is sensitive but unclassified -- please
handle accordingly.

1. (U) Mission point of contact on trafficking in
persons issues until May 1 is poloff Carl-Heinz J.
Wemhoener-Cuite, Andrea Tomaszewicz will replace him at
that time, both can be reached at 94-1-448-007 x-2425
and fax 94-1-471-092.

2. (U) Mission's submission for the 2002 Trafficking in
Persons Report for Sri Lanka and the Maldives follows.
Responses are keyed to the questions in Ref A.

---------
Sri Lanka
---------

3. (SBU) Overview of Sri Lanka's activities to eliminate
trafficking in persons (Para 16).

A -- Sri Lanka might be a country of origin and
destination for a small number of internationally
trafficked women. Some trafficking occurs in territory
the government controls and some in areas the government
does not control. There are no reliable estimates as to
the magnitude of the problem. The sources of
information on trafficking in and from Sri Lanka are the
National Child Protection Authority (NCPA), local and
international NGOs, and the press. The NCPA is reliable
but can provide only limited information and then
specifically on child related statistics. In the area
controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) children are at risk of being forcibly recruited
into the LTTE.

B -- Anecdotal evidence indicates Thai, Chinese, and
Russian women may be trafficked into Sri Lanka for
purposes of prostitution. Children are trafficked
internally.

C -- There has been little evidence of change of
trafficking over the past year. There have been
intermittent reports of police and NCPA investigations
into events possibly connected to the trafficking of
children for sexual exploitation.

D -- No reliable surveys on trafficking in Sri Lanka are
currently available, although the NCPA continues to
conduct surveys on trafficking in children issues.

E -- A small number of women may be trafficked into Sri
Lanka for purposes of prostitution, but little
information is available as to how the women come to Sri
Lanka, whether they remain in the country of their own
free will, or the conditions in which they live.

F -- Women are on occasion hired to work in the Middle
East under false pretenses. Women are offered financial
incentives to work as domestic servants in the Middle
East, upon arrival they are sometimes used for other
purposes. The employees travel legally to the places of
employment. The reports on this activity is anecdotal
and of limited numbers.

G -- There is political will at the highest levels of
government to combat trafficking in persons. The
Government of Sri Lanka has established a Police Women's
and Children's Bureau, the National Child Protection
Authority (NCPA), and attached a police unit directly to
the NCPA in 2002, to combat trafficking. The Ministry
of Foreign Affairs also assigns Welfare Officers to
countries where Sri Lankan women are reportedly
trafficked. Despite the difficulties of the ongoing
peace process and having a limited budget the GSL has
made some efforts to combat trafficking through
prevention, prosecution, and some protection.
H -- During the last year there have been unconfirmed
reports that personnel in the Sri Lankan Bureau of
Foreign Employment have accepted bribes. There have
been no reports of arrests or prosecutions in relation
to these allegations.

I -- Currently the greatest limitation upon the
government in trying to combat trafficking are efforts
to maintain an ongoing ceasefire and control a depressed
economy. Funding and resources are currently directed
towards those concerns.

4. (SBU) Prevention (Para. 17):

A -- The government of Sri Lanka acknowledges that
trafficking is a problem in the country.

B -- Immigration, MFA, Police, Bureau of Foreign
Employment, and the National Child Protection Authority.

C -- A number of NGOs, sometimes in cooperation with the
government, have focused on protection of victims and
have conducted some education programs geared towards
parents in an attempt to try to prevent trafficking of
children for sexual exploitation. Some have also tried
educational campaigns geared towards keeping mothers
from working in the Middle East, where they work without
most civil protections, and are away from their family
for extended periods. As yet the campaigns have had
limited impact.

D -- The government does not perceive trafficking as a
major problem in Sri Lanka and thus has not actively
supported many programs to combat trafficking.

E -- Yes, the government is able to support prevention
programs, but due to budgetary constraints its
capabilities are of a limited nature.

F -- The NCPA's work with international NGOs on
trafficking in persons issues is currently the primary
interaction between the government and civil society.
The government's history of cooperation with NGOs and
acknowledgement of the problem, however, suggests a
willingness to work with civil society on the issue.

G -- Sri Lanka tries to adequately monitor its borders
to control immigration and emigration, but is not able
to do so in areas controlled by the LTTE. Evidence of
trafficking is limited and the government does not think
there is a large-scale problem. The law enforcement
agencies focusing on the issue respond when evidence is
provided.

H -- There is a mechanism for coordination and
communication among agencies, but the government does
not have an anti-trafficking task force. The government
has an anti-corruption task force.

I -- The government of Sri Lanka is not part of any
international working group on trafficking in persons.

J -- The government does not have a national plan of
action to address trafficking in persons.

K -- The government has not specifically delegated the
responsibility to develop an anti-trafficking program to
any government organization. In regards to children,
the NCPA has interpreted its mandate to include
developing such a program. The NCPA, in conjunction
with the International Labor Organization (ILO), has
developed an action plan to counteract trafficking in
persons. Although investigations and arrests have
increased during the last year, budgetary constraints
and limited police forces committed to the issue has
meant that the program has met with only limited
success.

5. (SBU) Investigation and prosecution of traffickers
(Para. 18):

A -- The Penal Code Act No. 22 of 1995 specifically
criminalizes trafficking in persons.

B -- Penalties range from 2 to 20 years imprisonment
plus a penalty of approximately USD 16 to 160.

C -- Penalties range from 7 to 20 years imprisonment
plus monetary compensation to the victim, of which the
amount is determined by the judge.

D -- The government has not prosecuted any cases against
traffickers during the past year. (Note: The
government has prosecuted pedophilia cases, which may
have been linked to trafficking in children cases,
during the year.)

E -- Anecdotal evidence suggests individuals acting on
their own volition, but no reliable information on the
issue exists.

F -- The government investigates cases of trafficking,
but has limited resources to do so.

G -- Limited specialized training is given to members of
the Police Women's and Children's Bureau, and the NCPA,
but the training does not specifically address the
concept of trafficking.

H -- To date the GSL has not cooperated with other
governments in the investigation or prosecution of
traffickers. Mission is not aware of the GSL being
approached to take part in any such investigation.
(Note: Harendra de Silva of the NCPA stated that a
small number are taken abroad every year on the pretext
of improved education, but that a number of such cases
may be for sexual exploitation. In regards to such
issues, he added that one Swiss man was recently
prosecuted for sexual exploitation of a child in
Switzerland. He was reportedly a regular visitor to
Sri Lanka.)

I -- The government has not extradited anyone charged
with trafficking to other countries, but is likely to do
so if asked.

J -- There is no credible evidence of government
involvement in or tolerance of trafficking of persons.
There are unsubstantiated reports of immigration
officers accepting bribes.

K -- Government officials are not believed to be
involved in trafficking of persons.

L -- The GSL ratified ILO Convention 105 in
January 2003.
-- The GSL ratified ILO Convention 182 in
February 2000.
-- The GSL ratified ILO Convention 29 in 1950
-- The GSL has signed the Sale of Children Protocol.
-- The GSL has signed the Protocol to Prevent,
Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons.

6. (SBU) Protection and assistance to victims
(Para. 19):

A -- Victims of internal trafficking are temporarily
sheltered in rehabilitation camps which includes some
medical and psychological services.

B -- No, the government does not provide funding to NGOs
for services to victims. The government has some
programs in place, but is focusing its funds on other
issues.

C -- Women suspected of being trafficked into Sri Lanka
for the purpose of prostitution are sometimes arrested,
and released upon paying a fine. There are no reports
of mistreatment during the short time they are
incarcerated. Children are treated as victims and care
is provided to them.

D -- The GSL does not encourage victims to assist in the
prosecution or investigation into traffickers. Victims
may seek monetary damages by submitting a Fundamental
Rights case. There are no impediments in filing such
cases and limited support through some NGOs is provided.

E -- The government generally does not provide any
protection to witnesses. On rare occasions the accused
have been denied bail because of credible threats
against the victim.

F -- Limited specialized training is given to members of
the Police Women's and Children's Bureau, and the NCPA,
but the training does not specifically address the
concept of trafficking. Welfare Officers are assigned
to countries in the Middle East to focus on the rights
of women that may have been trafficked there.

G -- No assistance is given to repatriated victims of
trafficking by the government.

H -- Don Bosco, Salvation Army, ILO, American Solidarity
Center, and a number of community based organizations
work with trafficking victims. Most NGOs focusing on
trafficking in persons issues have limited to no contact
with the government. The GSL has cooperated with the
NGOs that have contacted them.

H (continued) -- The government of Sri Lanka has
acknowledged the problem of trafficking in persons,
however, it does not believe it is a major problem in
Sri Lanka. Anecdotal evidence points to limited
internal trafficking of children for sexual
exploitation, and even fewer for labor. The government
is addressing the internal trafficking of children
through the police and NCPA. Only a very small percent
of the women working in the Middle East complain of
mistreatment while working overseas. The Bureau of
Foreign Employment and Welfare Officers with the MFA are
focusing on their complaints. Anecdotal evidence points
to perhaps one to two hundred women being trafficked
into Sri Lanka. The government as a whole is focused on
the ongoing peace process, and has not focused on
trafficking in persons.

--------
Maldives
--------

7. (SBU) Overview of Maldivian activities to eliminate
trafficking in persons (Para 16).

A -- The Maldives is not a country of origin, transit,
or destination for internationally trafficked men,
women, or children. The source for this information is
the Maldivian Ministry for Women's Affairs and Social
Welfare, UNDP, UNICEF, other NGOs, and the press.
Mission believes these sources are reliable. Mission's
visits to the Maldives confirms what these organizations
have reported.

B-I -- Trafficking in persons is not an issue in the
Maldives.

8. (SBU) Prevention (para 17):

A -- The government of the Republic of the Maldives does
not acknowledge that trafficking is a problem in the
country. There is no evidence to indicate that
trafficking in persons is a problem in the Maldives.

B -- No Maldivian government agency is tasked with anti-
trafficking efforts. If the issue were to arise in the
Maldives, the Ministry for Women's Affairs and Social
Welfare would be the agency most likely to focus on the
issue.

C -- There have been no anti-trafficking information or
education campaigns.

D -- The government has long-standing programs to teach
Maldivians, particularly women, of their rights. The
GORM has conducted political and legal literacy programs
and held workshops on gender equality.

E -- If trafficking were a problem in the Maldives the
government would likely be able to support prevention
programs.

F -- The government works closely with civil society and
international NGOs on other issues and if trafficking in
persons were to become an issue the government could be
expected to work closely with the appropriate NGOs on
that issue.

G -- The Maldives is a nation of approximately 1,200
sparsely populated islands and limited resources.
Despite this, the GORM adequately monitors it borders,
although unauthorized entry and exit of people almost
certainly occurs.

H -- The GORM does not have a multi-agency working group
or task force focusing on trafficking in persons; the
issue has not come up in the Maldives. The government
does have an Anti-Corruption Board to review accusations
of public corruption.

I -- The government does not participate in any
multinational or international working groups or efforts
to prevent, monitor, or control trafficking in persons.

J -- The government does not have a national plan of
action to address trafficking in persons; it is not an
issue in the Maldives.

K -- There is no person or entity responsible for
developing anti-trafficking programs within the
government; it is not an issue in the Maldives.

9. (SBU) Investigation and prosecution of traffickers
(para. 18):

A -- There are no laws specifically prohibiting
trafficking. The Attorney General's office argues that
the issue can be addressed through Shari'a, Islamic law.

B -- No penalties have been established.

C -- No comparisons can be made as no penalties have
been established for trafficking in persons.

D -- The government has not prosecuted any cases against
traffickers. There have been no reported cases of
trafficking in persons in the Maldives.

E -- There were no reports of traffickers in the
Maldives during the last year.

F -- There were no reports of traffickers in the
Maldives during the last year.

G -- The government does not provide any specialized
training for government officials on trafficking in
persons.

H -- Mission is not aware of the Maldivian government
being asked to assist in any trafficking in persons
cases.
I -- Mission is not aware of any extradition cases
arising during the year.

J -- There is no evidence of government involvement or
tolerance of trafficking in persons.
K -- There is no evidence of government personnel being
involved in trafficking of persons.

L -- Mission has no information of the Maldives signing
the ILO Convention 182, Sale of Children Protocol, or
the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking
in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplemental.

10. (SBU) Protection and assistance to victims (para.
19):

A -- The issue of assistance for victims of trafficking
in persons did not arise in the Maldives during the
year.

B-G -- Because there are no reports of any victims of
trafficking in the Maldives, the issues pertaining to
victims were not addressed by the government.

H -- Mission is not aware of any NGOs working on
trafficking in person issues in the Maldives.

WILLS

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