Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Text for 2006 Incsr


DE RUEHLM #1822/01 3070652
P 030652Z NOV 06




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. Please find below the text for the 2006 INCSR. The format is
keyed to the instructions in reftel.

2. 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 early
2005, the U.S. government strengthened its relationship with Sri
Lanka on counter-narcotics issues by offering training and seminars
for the Sri Lanka Police. Sri Lanka signed the 1988 UN Drug
Convention, but as of 2006, Parliament had not enacted implementing
legislation for the convention. In November 2006 the Attorney
General's office submitted the legislation to the Cabinet of
Ministers, and the bill is expected to be passed by parliament in
the first quarter of 2007. In the meantime, amendments to the
current laws, including some covering chemicals control, have been
enacted as intermediate steps.
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.
III. Country Actions Against Drugs in 2005
Policy Initiatives: In 2005, Sri Lanka made progress in further
implementing its counter-narcotics strategy, developed in 1994. The
lead agency for counter-narcotics efforts, the Police Narcotics
Bureau (PNB), is headquartered in the capital city of Colombo. The
government elected in April 2004 has not yet initiated any policy
changes with respect to counter-narcotics activities. The GSL
remains committed to ongoing efforts to curb illicit drug use and
trafficking. In 2005 the PNB recruited more officers, resulting in
increased investigations and interdictions. In early 2006, a
special court was established so drug cases could be tried with
minimal delays.
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 taking full advantage of U.S.-sponsored training for
criminal investigative techniques and management practices.
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. The SAARC Drug Offences Monitoring
Desk (SDOMD) is co-located within Colombo's PNB. The SDOMD
collects, analyzes, and disseminates drug-related data among SAARC
member countries. Anti-drug officials based in India and Pakistan
regularly send information to the SDOMD, though other SAARC
countries reportedly do not maintain such regular contact with the
SDOMD desk.
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, in 2005
GSL officials arrested nearly 11,700 persons on charges of using or
dealing heroin and over 11,000 persons on cannabis charges. Police
seized a total of 51.6 kilograms of heroin, with one major haul
yielding 11.7 kilograms. Also in 2005, police seized 29,490
kilograms of cannabis. In addition, in response to the slowly
increasing Ecstasy usage in upscale venues in Colombo, the PNB made
their first ever Ecstasy-related drug arrests in 2004. There was
one Ecstasy-related arrest in 2006
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
alleged drug smugglers. During the year, the PNB began the process
of establishing additional sub-stations. The next substation is due
to open at the port of Colombo by the end of 2006.
Corruption: A government commission, established to investigate
bribery and corruption charges against public officials, temporarily
resumed operations in 2004. In May 2004, the Judicial Services
Commission suspended a Colombo high court judge for granting bail to
alleged drug traffickers. Police arrested a leading alleged drug
kingpin in connection with the November 2004 murder of a widely
respected judge. At the time of this alleged dealer's arrest and
questioning, subsequent information revealed that numerous police
officers allegedly helped facilitate this individual's illegal
activities. In response, the Inspector General of Police, the most
senior ranking police official, ordered a complete investigation
into any involvement by police officers. The investigation was
on-going at year's end. In December 2005, six police personnel were
arrested for collusion with a high-profile drug dealer, but the
police were released without charges in March 2006. On June 14,
2006, a Major in the army was found trafficking 15.3 Kg of heroin in
Pesalai in Mannar. He was arrested and remains in remand for the
duration of his trial.
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. Implementing legislation for both
conventions had not reached Parliament by year's end. The Attorney
General's office has reviewed both pieces of legislation and
anticipates submitting implementing legislation to Parliament in
early 2005. 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.
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
jungles of Sri Lanka. PNB and Excise Department officials work
together to locate and eradicate cannabis crops.
Drug Flow/Transit: Some of the heroin entering Sri Lanka is
transshipped elsewhere. With the 2003 opening of the northwestern
coastal waters in the advent of the ceasefire between the GSL and
the LTTE, narcotics traffickers began to take advantage of the short
distance across the Palk Strait to transit drugs from India to Sri
Lanka. According to police officials, drugs are transported across
the strait and then overland to the south. The PNB sought to open a
sub-station in the region but was unable to do so because of the
prevailing security situation in the north-western coastal waters
resulting from Sri Lanka's long-running ethnic conflict. With no
coast guard, Sri Lanka's coast remains highly vulnerable to
transshipment of heroin moving from India.
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 Thailand.
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 north and east provinces to assess the local situation
and investigate the possibility of establishing treatment centers in
those regions. The NDDCB officials held discussions with District
Secretaries to conduct awareness programs, open counseling centers,

and build medical centers in the war-affected areas. The NDDCB is
awaiting approval from the Treasury for the necessary funding to
implement the initiatives. The GSL continued its support,
including financial, of local NGOs conducting demand reduction and
drug awareness campaigns. The Sri Lanka Anti Narcotics Association,
in collaboration with PNB, Colombo City Traffic Police, and Sri
Lanka Telecom, organized an anti-drug bicycle parade on a 100
kilometer route from Galle to Colombo in June 2005. The Colombo
Plan Drug Advisory Program, a regional organization, pledged its
assistance to the government and non-government agencies in their
efforts to combat illicit drugs.
IV. U.S. Policy Initiatives and Programs
Policy Initiatives: The USG remained committed to helping GSL
officials develop increased capacity and cooperation for
counter-narcotics issues. 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.
Bilateral Cooperation: In 2004, the USG began implementing,
primarily with the PNB, a law enforcement development program. Over
200 officers throughout the police force participated in training
seminars. Pursuant to bilateral letters of agreement between the USG
and the GSL, the Sri Lanka police are fulfilling their obligations.
USG-trained Sri Lanka police are replicating the seminars and
scheduling training for colleagues of the original police trainees
at the training academies and stations throughout the island.
Regional U.S. government officials, primarily DEA, conducted
narcotics officer training for their local counterparts in a seminar
organized by the Colombo Plan.
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. This will be accomplished with
additional assistance for training and continued dialogue between
U.S. counter-narcotics related agencies and their Sri Lankan
counterparts. The U.S. also expects to continue it support of the
Colombo Plan.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Pacific Media Watch: How Pacific Environmental Defenders Are Coping With The Covid Pandemic

SPECIAL REPORT: By Sri Krishnamurthi of Pacific Media Watch Pacific Climate Warriors - creative action to trigger better responses to climate crisis. Image: ... More>>

New Zealand Defence Force: Training Team Gets Under Way In Fiji

A combined training team from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Ministry of Defence will this week begin working alongside Fijian counterparts in areas ranging from basic hydrography to advanced combat first aid as part of a new training initiative ... More>>

Reporters Without Borders: Julian Assange’s Extradition Hearing Marred By Barriers To Open Justice

After monitoring four weeks of evidence in the US extradition proceedings against Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reiterates concern regarding the targeting of Assange for his contributions to journalism, and calls ... More>>

OHCHR: Stranded Migrants Need Safe And Dignified Return – UN Migrant Workers Committee

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers has today called on governments to take immediate action to address the inhumane conditions of migrant workers who are stranded in detention camps and ensure they can have an orderly, safe and dignified return to ... More>>