Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Input for Incsr
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
090454Z Dec 05
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 002070
DEPARTMENT FOR INL; JUSTICE FOR OIA, AFMLS, AND NDDS;
TREASURY FOR FinCEN; DEA FOR OILS AND OFFICE OF DIVERSION
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SNAR CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: INPUT FOR INCSR
REF: A. STATE 209558
1. The information in this cable is keyed to Reftel.
2. (Part I) Summary. Sri Lanka has a relatively small-scale
drug problem. The Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) remains
committed to targeting drug traffickers and implementing
nation-wide demand reduction programs. In 2005, the U.S.
government strengthened its relationship with Sri Lanka on
counternarcotics issues by offering training and seminars
for the Sri Lanka Police. After the 2002 ceasefire
agreement between the GSL and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam (LTTE), a comparatively relaxed security environment
led to the opening of a new overland drug trafficking route.
LTTE officials continue to police and monitor the route.
Although Sri Lanka has signed the 1988 UN Drug Convention,
Parliament had not enacted implementing legislation for the
convention as of the end of 2005.
3. (Part II) Status of Country. Sri Lanka is not a
significant producer of narcotics or precursor chemicals.
GSL officials continue to raise internal awareness of and
vigilance against efforts by drug traffickers attempting to
use Sri Lanka as a transit point for illicit drug smuggling.
Domestically, officials are addressing a modest drug problem,
consisting of heroin, cannabis, and increasingly, Ecstasy.
4. (Part III. 23.2) Policy Initiatives. In 2005, Sri Lanka
made progress in further implementing its counternarcotics
strategy, developed in 1994. The lead agency for
counternarcotics efforts, the Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB),
is headquartered in the capital city of Colombo. The GSL
remains committed to on-going efforts to curb illicit drug
use and trafficking.
5. (Part III. 23.2.a) Accomplishments. The PNB and Excise
Department worked closely to target cannabis producers and
dealers, resulting in several successful arrests. The PNB
warmly welcomed and was an active partner in U.S.-sponsored
training for criminal investigative techniques and
6. (Part III, 23.2.a continued) Sri Lanka continued to work
with South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
(SAARC) and the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime
(UNODC) on regional narcotics issues. SAARC countries met in
Maldives in early 2004 and agreed to establish an interactive
website for the SAARC Drug Offense Monitoring Desk, located
in Colombo, for all countries to input, share, and review
regional narcotics statistics. GSL officials maintain
continuous contact with counterparts in India and Pakistan,
origin countries for the majority of drugs in Sri Lanka.
7. (Part III 23.3.a) Law Enforcement Efforts. The PNB
continued close inter-agency cooperation with the Customs
Service, the Department of Excise and the Sri Lankan Police
to curtail the illicit drug supply lines and local drug
dealers and users. As a result of these efforts, GSL
officials arrested 9,519 heroin dealers and 9,168 cannabis
dealers from January to October of 2005. The largest heroin
haul was 11.5 kilograms, valued locally at around $402,500.
The Sri Lanka Navy made the interdiction in Mannar, where
a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadre was caught
with the package of heroin. This year around forty kilograms
of heroin were confiscated in Mannar alone. Law enforcement
officials did not make any Ecstasy-related drug arrests this
8. (Part III, 23.3.a continued) Apart from its Colombo
headquarters, the PNB has one sub-unit at the Bandaranaike
International Airport near Colombo, complete with
operational personnel and a team of narcotics-detecting
dogs. Greater vigilance by PNB officers assigned to the
airport sub-station led to increased arrests and narcotics
seizures from suspected drug smugglers. During the year, the
PNB began the process of establishing additional sub-
stations to combat trafficking. The next two substations, at
the international port in Colombo and the northwest coastal
town of Mannar, will be operational shortly. Future sub-
stations will also be located in cannabis-growing regions.
9. (Part III 23.4.a) Corruption. A government commission,
established to investigate bribery and corruption charges
against public officials, temporarily resumed operations in
2004. In June of this year, the Police Narcotics Bureau,
along with police stations island-wide, began "Operation
Clean-Up" to apprehend drug peddlers and users. All police
stations and divisions are taking part in this effort.
Police investigations revealed that a sub-inspector of
police has earned significant profit from his involvement
with a gang of drug dealers. This officer has been suspended
from the service, and a special police team is conducting an
investigation into his conduct. In addition, investigations
also continue in the case of two police constables caught
10. (Part III 23.4.b) The GSL did not, as a matter of
policy, encourage or facilitate the illicit production or
distribution of any controlled substances or the laundering
of proceeds from illegal drug transactions. There were no
reports that any senior official engaged in such activity or
encouragement thereof. There were no INL-funded aircraft or
equipment in country.
11. (Part III 23.5) Agreements and Treaties. Sri Lanka is a
party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and the 1990 SAARC
Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.
The Attorney General's Office is expected to submit a draft
of the implementing legislation to the Ministry of Justice
and Judicial Reforms by year's end. The Justice Minister is
then slated to seek Cabinet approval and present the
legislation as a bill to Parliament by the first quarter of
12. (Part III, 23.5 continued) Sri Lanka is also a party to
the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972
Protocol, and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic
Substances. Sri Lanka has signed, but has not yet ratified,
the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and
is a party to the UN Convention Against Corruption. An
extradition treaty is in force between the U.S. and Sri Lanka.
13. (Part III 23.6) Cultivation/Production. Small quantities
of cannabis are cultivated and used locally. There is little
indication that this illicit drug is exported. The majority
of the production occurs in the southeast. PNB and Excise
Department officials work together to locate and eradicate
cannabis crops. PNB officials also sought to set up sub-
stations in order to limit trafficking through vulnerable
14. (Part III 23.7) Drug Flow/Transit. Some of the heroin
entering Sri Lanka is solely for transshipment purposes.
With the opening of the northwestern coastal waters after
the ceasefire between the GSL and the LTTE, narcotics
traffickers have taken advantage of the short distance
across the Palk Strait to transit drugs from India to Sri
Lanka. According to police officials, drugs are mainly
transported across the strait and then overland to southern
coastal towns, from where they are transported onward by
sea. Mannar is considered the primary port of entry for
narcotics. The PNB is attempting to control the area better
with the upcoming opening of a sub-station there. With no
coast guard, however, Sri Lanka's coast remains highly
vulnerable to transshipment of heroin moving from India.
15. (Part III 23.7 continued) Police officials state that
the international airport is the second major entry point
for the transshipment of illegal narcotics through Sri
Lanka. There is no evidence to date that synthetic drugs are
manufactured in Sri Lanka. Police note that the Ecstasy
found in Colombo social venues is likely trafficked from
16. (Part III 23.8) Domestic Programs (Demand Reduction).
The National Dangerous Drugs Control Board (NDDCB) began
establishing task forces in each regional province to focus
on the issue of drug awareness and rehabilitation at the
community level. Each task force works with the existing
municipal structure, bringing together officials from the
police, prisons, social services, health, education and NGO
sectors. For the first time in 2004, NDDCB officials visited
the war-affected northern and eastern provinces to assess
the local situation and investigate the possibility of
establishing treatment centers in those regions. The GSL
continued its support, including financial, of local NGOs
conducting demand reduction and drug awareness campaigns.
The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) instituted an annual drug
awareness week in June 2005. The programs focused on school
children as well as recent secondary school graduates. The
PNB is making preparations to organize other drug awareness
programs as well, including counseling to tsunami victims in
the south and east of Sri Lanka. With the help of Police
Divisions throughout the country, the PNB implemented a
successful public awareness program at the village level
about the adverse repercussions of narcotics use.
17. (Part IV 24.1) Policy Initiatives. The USG remained
committed to helping GSL officials develop increased
capacity and cooperation for counternarcotics issues
although bilateral efforts were hindered by INL funding
cuts. The USG also continued its support of the regional
Colombo Plan Drug Advisory Program, which conducts regional
and country-specific training seminars, fostering
communication and cooperation throughout Asia.
18. (Part IV 24.2) Bilateral Cooperation. In 2004, the USG
implemented a law enforcement development program with PNB.
Over 200 police officers participated in training seminars.
Pursuant to bilateral letters of agreement between the USG
and the GSL, the Sri Lanka police fulfilled their
obligations. USG-trained Sri Lanka police replicated the
seminars and scheduled training for colleagues of the
original police trainees at the training academies and
stations throughout the island. In May of this year in Sri
Lanka, the Colombo Plan sponsored a US-funded South Asian
regional drug recovery conference for public health
19. (Part IV 24.2 continued) Road Ahead. The U.S. government
intends to maintain its commitment to aiding the Sri Lanka
police to transition from a paramilitary force to a
community-focused one, although INL funding cuts and the new
Sri Lankan government's decision to move public functions
back into the Ministry of Defense may complicate this
effort. There is a continued need for additional assistance
for training and for further dialogue between U.S.
counternarcotics related agencies and their Sri Lankan
counterparts, which have proven successful in combating
narcotics in years past. The US expects to continue it
support of the Colombo Plan.