Cablegate: Sri Lanka Child Labor Update for Trade And

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




E.O 12958: N/A

REF: (A) STATE 163967 (b) 03 COLOMBO 001436

Responses keyed to Reftel (A). Since post submitted
a detailed report on child labor in 2003, below is an
update on the child labor situation. Only new
developments are described.

(A) Whether the country has adequate laws and
regulations proscribing the worst forms of child

The most important development since the Child Labor
report last year is the compilation of a list of
fifty (50) occupations considered to be the worst
forms of child labor existing in Sri Lanka under the
ILO/IPEC program. The National Labor Advisory
Council, chaired by the Minister of Labor, approved
this list on January 21, 2004, but it has not been
publicly released. Due to the dissolution of
Parliament, subsequent parliamentary elections and
other political reasons, the list has not been
presented to the Cabinet and Parliament yet and
therefore laws proscribing these worst forms of child
labor have not been formulated. As mentioned in
reftel b, however, existing laws protect children
(14-18 years) from hazardous labor.

B) Whether the country has adequate laws and
regulations for the implementation and enforcement of
such measures:

The Sri Lanka Department of Labor and the National
Child Protection Agency (NCPA) have observed a
declining trend in employment of children under 14
years. This decline is due to tough regulations and
increasing public awareness against child labor. For
example, the recent ILO/IPEC sponsored Rapid
Assessment Survey on domestic child labor in five
districts found child domestic workers (under 18
years) in roughly two percent of households. The
findings, although not directly comparable, contrast
with an earlier (1998) finding of child labor in ten
percent of households in the Galle District.

C) Whether the country has established formal
institutional mechanisms to investigate and address
complaints relating to allegations of the worst forms
of child labor:

NCPA's anti-trafficking unit, cyber-watch unit and
the special police unit are continuing to combat
child abuse including child labor.

NCPA works with 450 divisional level social
development officers of the Government's "Samurdhi"
(social welfare) program. They are given training on
child abuse, drugs and suicide in order to raise
awareness on these issues among their communities.
These officers are a regular source of reporting on
child abuse to NCPA. In addition, NCPA has
established 11 district child protection committees.
While some of the committees are quite active, some
have become defunct due to lack of funding. UNICEF
is hoping to commence a program soon with the NCPA to
establish and strengthen district child protection
committees in all 22 districts under GSL control
during 2004-2006. A pilot project to establish
school child protection committees is underway in the
Ratnapura district. These committees, comprised of
parents and students, are responsible for creating
awareness in the areas of child abuse, child rights
and child labor and attempt to strengthen child-
family-school interactions.


-- The following table presents data on child labor
complaints made to various government departments.

Table 1

Year Dept of Labor(a) NCPA(c)
2000 194 184
2001 255 276
2002 161 386
2003 203 179
2004 64 (b) NA

a) Employment of Children below 14 years: 7, 42, 26,
44 and 19 cases were prosecuted in 2000, 2001, 2002,
2003 and 2004 respectively.
b) From January to June, 2004
c) NCPA receives complaints on all forms of abuse
against children below 18 years. Most of the
complaints concern sexual abuse, including child
prostitution. In 2003, NCPA received 25 complaints
about child labor, 200 about sexual abuse, and 51
about physical abuse.

Sources: Women's and Children's Division of the
Department of Labor, and the Statistics Division of
the NCPA.

-- NCPA's cyber-watch unit sponsored by ILO/IPEC has
been successful in combating child abuse (child
pornography and pedophilia) using the Internet. The
unit has also been able to identify and detain
foreign pedophiles operating in Sri Lanka.
Statistics pertaining to cyber-watch unit activities
are below. (Data within parenthesis indicate the
number of foreign suspects.)

Table 2

No of Investigations No ofarrests

2002 45 (17) 7 (4)
2003 40 (10) 2 (-)
2004(a) 11 (6) 2 (2)

(a) January to August 19, 2004.
Source: NCPA (Cyber Watch Unit)

Other NCPA programs: Between July 2003 and August
2004, the NCPA facilitated following training

- Trauma counseling for child care officers and child
rights promotion officers; psychosocial counseling
for medical professionals; surveillance training for
government officers; legal awareness for divisional
Samurdhi welfare officers; various lectures on child
abuse and protection of girls for police and nursing
officers; and training of trainers in psychosocial

- Scotland Yard provided training to NCPA officers on
detection of pedophile activities.

- NCPA has also prepared a manual for trainers in
psychosocial counseling, and continues to raise
awareness of child rights through poster campaigns
and media.

GSL Labor Department Programs: In 2003-2004, the GSL
Labor Department trained 300 labor, probation and
police officers in child domestic labor issues.

D) Whether social programs exist in the country to
prevent the engagement of children in the worst forms
of child labor and assist in the removal of children
engaged in worst forms of child labor:

-- Education: The Government of Sri Lanka continues
to demonstrate a strong commitment to education and
strives to eliminate child labor through education.
There is strong commitment to child protection and
education at the highest level of the Government.
The (executive) President is also the minister in
charge of Education. In addition, the NCPA comes
under the President.

-- Government spending on education (RS million):

Table 3

Year Total Education Primary Education
2002 37,209 9,962
2003 39,116 11,257
2004 41,951 12,847

Exhange rate: Rs 95.66 (2002), Rs 96.52 (2003), Rs
102 (2004)
Source: Ministry of Finance estimates provided to the
ed to the
Embassy and Central Bank Annual Report 2003.

-- UNICEF conducts various programs in the following
broad thematic categories: early childhood
development (for children below 5 years), learning
years (for children between 5-14 years), and
adolescent education.

-- NCPA assists children engaged in worst forms of
child labor. It helped the Child Care and Probation
Department to establish a rehabilitation center,
which offers vocational training and counseling for
victims of trafficking. Currently, NCPA is assisting
two other rehabilitation centers under the ILO/IPEC
program. ILO/IPEC and UNICEF are also working with
the Don Bosco Center, a local NGO to conduct remedial
classes for children at risk in areas bordering
conflict zones. ILO/IPEC also has programs with
trade unions to strengthen plantation communities to
combat child labor. In June 2004, NCPA commenced a
program with World Bank funds to establish six drop-
in centers for children under 18 years. These centers
are geared to provide education and entertainment to
children, and raise awareness regarding child rights
and abuse.

-- Child Soldiers: According to the head of the NCPA,
child soldiering is the most pressing form of
hazardous child labor existing in Sri Lanka. Despite
the announcement of a cease-fire in February 2002,
the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) still
uses child soldiers and recruits children, sometimes
forcibly, for training and use in battlefield support
and in combat. The Government of Sri Lanka, UNICEF,
the US Government and other international agencies
continue to press the LTTE to cease all child
recruitment and to release those children in their
ranks. Reliable statistics on child soldiers are not
available, though many agencies are addressing this

-- In April 2003, UNICEF facilitated a workshop
between the Government of Sri Lanka, the LTTE, and
local and international organizations to agree on a
plan of action to address the needs of children
affected by war. The plan aims to restore normalcy
to these children, including child recruits. Child
rights training to LTTE, Government armed forces and
communities is one component of the plan. It
provides for the release and re-integration of child
soldiers with UNICEF assistance. Under this program,
UNICEF supported the establishment of a transit
center for child recruits released by the LTTE.
ILO/IPEC is providing vocational training for
children affected by war. Child recruitment by the
LTTE has increased in the first half of 2004. A
number of foreign governments represented in Sri
Lanka have made strong representations to the LTTE to
end this practice and release all child soldiers to
UNICEF's care. The United States has condemned LTTE
recruitment of children in public statements.

E) Whether the country has a comprehensive policy for
the elimination of the worst forms of child labor:

The Government has ratified ILO convention 182 on the
elimination of worst forms of child labor.

The most important development since last year's
Child Labor report was the creation of a list of 50
occupations considered to be the worst forms of child
labor under the ILO/IPEC program. A tripartitie
committee, through wide national consultation,
prepared the list of hazardous occupations and also
has recommended actions to prohibit and reduce such
forms of occupations. On January 21, 2004 the
National Labor Advisory Council, chaired by the
Minister of Labor, approved this list. Due to
political problems, the list has not been presented
to the Cabinet yet. In order to proscribe the
occupations, the next steps include cabinet approval,
drafting of amendments to existing legislation and
presentation to the Parliament.

Pending legislation, the NCPA, under the ILO/IPEC, is
already implementing a comprehensive 10-year national
policy and a national action plan on elimination of
trafficking of children for exploitative employment.
A comprehensive review of this program is scheduled
for the end of 2004. In addition, again pending
legislation on the worst forms of child labor, the
NCPA, with the assistance of ILO/IPEC, has also
prepared proposals for legal amendments and a code of
conduct for employers of young persons including
domestic workers (14-18 years).

F) Whether the country is making continual progress
toward eliminating the worst forms of child labor:

The last thorough child activity survey was carried
out in 1998/99. There has been no comparable update
since then. In view of this gap in data, IPEC will
fund a national estimation of child labor (under 18
years) in certain sectors: fisheries, fireworks, sex
workers, domestic workers, children in the north east
and children in plantations.

The following documents are being sent via
unclassified pouch to DoL's Tina Faulkner:


1. Sri Lanka Child Domestic Labor, A Rapid
2. A Study of young domestic workers in Sri Lanka:
proposals for legal amendments and a code of conduct,
3. List of hazardous employment approved by the
National Labor Advisory Commission.

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