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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Information On Forced Labor and Exploitative

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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1270
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0117
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3831
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 2393
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9415
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7670
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 9975
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0118

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000097

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SCA/INSB AND DRL/ILCSR FOR SARAH MORGAN
STATE FOR G/TIP FOR LUIS CDEBACA
DOL/ILAB FOR LEYLA STROTKAMP, RACHEL RIGBY, TINA MCCARTER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EIND ELAB ETRD PHUM SOCI CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: INFORMATION ON FORCED LABOR AND EXPLOITATIVE
CHILD LABOR IN THE PRODUCTION OF GOODS FOR MANDATORY CONGRESSIONAL
REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

REF: (a) STATE 131995
(b) 09 Colombo 63

1) Tasking 1/TVPRA
The use of forced child labor/exploitative child labor in the
production of goods: Post has contacted host government officials,
private industry representatives and the International Labor
Organization, and all agree that there is no forced child labor or
exploitive labor in the formal industry, such as the production of
garments. Post provides more detail on other issues in its response
to Tasking 2.

2) Tasking 2/TDA

2A) PREVALENCE AND SECTORAL DISTRIBUTION OF EXPLOITATIVE CHILD
LABOR
There are no recent national statistics on child labor or
exploitative child labor in Sri Lanka. The last national survey on
child labor was conducted in 1999. Findings from a U.S. Department
of Labor-funded child activity survey carried out by the Department
of Census and Statistics in 2008/2009 are not yet available.

According to anecdotal evidence, children, mostly between 14-17
years old, may be engaged in domestic service, street vending,
agriculture, construction, mining, factory work, small scale
manufacturing, small restaurants, shops, and in prostitution.
Exploitative child labor situations may exist within these sectors.
Post is currently preparing a Trafficking in Persons report which
will provide more information on this area.

2B) LAWS AND REGULATIONS
There were no new laws or regulations covering child labor that were
enacted in 2009.

The minimum age for employment is 14 years. The minimum age for
employment at sea is 15 years. The law limits the work hours of
children age 14 and 15 years to 9 hours per day and the work hours
of children 16 and 17 years to 10 hours per day. There are
regulations governing employment at night of children between 14-17
years. The government has prepared, but not published, regulations
governing hazardous child labor aimed at improving the legal
structure and protecting children. The law prohibits forced labor,
debt bondage, and all forms of slavery by persons of any age.
However, a majority of Sri Lankans work in the informal sector,
which is why the survey on actual working conditions will be so
important.

Sri Lanka has ratified ILO Convention 182 on Worst Forms of Child
Labor. The Penal Code contains provisions prohibiting several
hazardous forms of child labor, including child pornography,
prostitution and trafficking. It seeks to prevent sexual abuse of
children via the internet as well as the soliciting of children for
sexual abuse. A 2006 amendment to the Penal Code prohibits the use
or recruitment of children (below 18 years) in armed conflict. A
jail term of up to 20 years and a fine is prescribed for these
offenses covered by the Penal Code. If the victim is under 18
years, the jail term may be increased to 30 years.

In August 2006, the Parliament passed an amendment to the Employment
of Women, Young Persons and Children Act of 1956, enabling the
Minister of Labor Relations and Manpower to publish regulations that
prohibit the employment of persons below the age of 18 years in
other hazardous occupations. The Government of Sri Lanka compiled a
list of 49 occupations in Sri Lanka that are considered to be
hazardous forms of child labor. Forty occupations are unconditional
and are to be completely prohibited for children aged 14-18 years,
while the remaining nine occupations will be conditionally
prohibited upon the publication of the relevant regulation. In
2009, the government drafted necessary regulation to prohibit
hazardous forms of child labor. The government has not yet
presented the draft to parliament for approval.

2C) INSTITUTIONS AND MECHANISMS FOR ENFORCEMENT- FORCED CHILD LABOR
AND HAZARDOUS CHILD LABOR

2C SECTION I- HAZARDOUS CHILD LABOR:

1. Agencies responsible: The Department of Labor and the National
Child Protection Authority (NCPA) have the legal authority to
enforce hazardous child labor laws.
2. Exchange of information: The Department of Labor works closely
with the Police Unit at the NCPA and the Women and Children's Bureau
of the Sri Lanka Police.
3. Mechanism for making complaints on hazardous child labor: Two
hotlines. Complaints can be made via hotlines of the Women and
Children's Bureau of the Sri Lanka Police and the Ministry of Child
Development and Women's Empowerment.
4. Funding: Not available.
5. Number of inspectors: The Labor Department's labor
inspectorate consists of 314 officers tasked with enforcing child
labor laws in addition to other labor laws. The labor inspectorate
is currently short-staffed. There are plans to increase the staff
of labor inspectors.
6. Number of inspections: The Labor Department received 140
complaints of child labor of children below 14 years.
7. Number of children removed from: Not available.
8. Cases opened: 9 cases on the violation of child labor laws
(employing children below 14 years)
9. Cases closed: Not available.
10. Convictions: Not available.
11. Length of time to resolve a child labor case: About 2 years
12. Penalties: Not available.
13. Commitment to combat exploitative child labor: During 2009,
the Ministry of Labor and Manpower convened a tripartite technical
working group on exploitative child labor. The working group was
charged with finalizing regulations to prohibit exploitative child
labor. The group has finalized regulations. The regulations,
however, require parliamentary approval. This may be delayed as
parliament may be dissolved and parliamentary elections held by
April 2010.
14. Government Training for investigators or others responsible for
enforcement: In 2009, the Ministry of Labor and Manpower trained
240 labor officers, police officers and probation officers on
investigation and prosecution of all forms of child labor
violations. The Ministry also conducted approximately 160 training
programs on the prevention of child labor for social partners,
school children and parents. The Department of Labor also conducted
a sticker campaign (10,000 stickers) and distributed 10,000 leaflets
to create awareness.

2C SECTION II- FORCED CHILD LABOR:
1. Agencies responsible: National Child Protection Authority
(NCPA), an independent agency under the Ministry of Child
Development and Women's Empowerment and the Women and Children's
Bureau of the Department of Police.
2. Exchange of information: NCPA's police division works closely
with the Women and Children's Bureau of the Department of Police.
3. Mechanism for making complaints regarding forced child labor:
Complaints can be made via hotlines of the Women's and Children's
Affairs Bureau of the Sri Lanka Police and the hotline of the
Ministry of Child Development.
4 through 12. Not available.
13. Commitment to combat forced child labor: Forced child labor is
not prevalent in Sri Lanka.
14. Training: Covered by other training programs.

2D INSTITUTIONAL MECHANISMS FOR EFFECTIVE ENFORCEMENT-CHILD
TRAFFICKING, COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION, USE OF CHILDREN IN
ILLICIT ACTIVITIES

2D SECTION 1: CHILD TRAFFICKING
Note: Post's consular section is preparing a Trafficking in Persons
report that will provide additional information on this issue.

1. Agencies to enforce child trafficking: National Child Protection
Authority (NCPA), an independent agency under the Ministry of Child
Development and Women's Empowerment and the Women and Children's
Bureau of the Department of Police.
2. Funding for investigating child trafficking/CSEC and illegal
activities: NCPA budget for 2008: Rs 48.5 million ($429,000 USD)
and 2009: Rs 40.3 million ($356,000).
3. Child trafficking hotline: There are two hotlines for reporting
all kinds of abuse against children, at the Women and Children's
Bureau of Sri Lanka Police and the Ministry of Child Development and
Women's Empowerment.
4. Investigations: 38 (reported to Children's and Women's Bureau of
Sri Lanka Police from January to November 2009) and
10 investigations by the NCPA (there may be duplications between
these two groups).
5. Number rescued: 11 children (NCPA)
6. Number of arrests: 20 people (NCPA)
7. Cases closed or resolved: Not available. NCPA filed ten cases in
2009.
8. through 12. Not available.

2D SECTION 2: COMMERCIAL SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN (CSEC)
1. Agencies to enforce CSEC: National Child Protection Authority
(NCPA), an independent agency under the Ministry of Child
Development and Women's Empowerment and the Women and Children's
Bureau of the Department of Police.
2. Funding for investigating CSEC: Please see 2D Section 1 above.
3. CSEC hotline: There are two hotlines for reporting all kinds of
abuse against children, at the Children's and Women's Bureau of Sri
Lanka Police and the Ministry of Child Development and Women's
Empowerment.
4. thru 12. Not available.

2D SECTION 3: USE OF CHILDREN IN ILLICIT ACTIVITIES
1. Agencies to enforce children in illicit activities: National
Child Protection Authority (NCPA), an independent agency under the
Ministry of Child Development and Women's Empowerment and the Women
and Children's Bureau of the Department of Police.
2. Funding for investigating illicit activities: Please see 2D
Section 1 above.
3. Child illicit activities hotline: There are two hotlines for
reporting all kinds of abuse against children, at the Women and
Children's Bureau of Sri Lanka Police and the Ministry of Child
Development and Women's Empowerment.
4. through 12. Not available.

2D-13. Armed Conflict: From 1983 to May 2009 Sri Lanka experienced
an armed conflict which involved the use of child soldiers by armed
rebel groups. Forced conscription by the separatist Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, a U.S. - designated foreign terrorist
organization) and by TMVP, a former LTTE faction, was the gravest
problem facing children in Sri Lanka. In December 2008, the
Government of Sri Lanka, the TMVP and the United Nations in Sri
Lanka signed a tri-partite Action Plan to stop all new recruitment
and to release and rehabilitate current and former child soldiers.
The armed conflict ended in May 2009. The government has taken
steps to rehabilitate children associated with these groups under
Emergency Regulation 1580/5 of December 15, 2008 under Section 2A of
the Public Security Ordinance. (Please see section 2F below for
further details)

2E) GOVERNMENT POLICIES ON CHILD LABOR
The Government of Sri Lanka continues to demonstrate a strong
commitment to combating child labor and strives to eliminate child
labor through education. Government policies do not support
exploitative child labor. Currently the government does not have a
specific program to combat exploitative child labor.

Government commitment towards eliminating child labor is shown in
various government policy documents. "Mahinda Chintana- A vision
for New Sri Lanka: ten year national development plan (2006-2016)",
a key economic policy document of the government, contains
government policies on combating child labor and exploitative child
labor. The policies aim to encourage parents to keep children in
school instead of sending them to work, provide social protection to
prevent children from ending up in exploitative labor, and take
steps to ensure that plantation children go to school.
Traditionally, plantation children have been a primary source of
child domestic workers. President Rajapaksa was re-elected in
January 2010, and his election manifesto also refers to child
protection. It pledges to extend compulsory education age from 14
years to 16 years and to take steps to curb school dropouts. In
addition, the manifesto pledges to have a police bureau attached to
the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) with adequate powers,
independence and authority to deal with child abuse. (Note: there
is a Police Bureau already attached to the NCPA.)

The government's current education policy contained in "The
Education Sector Development Policy (ESDP) 2006-2010" does not
explicitly refer to elimination of child labor. However, child
labor is discouraged through a key component of the project which
strives to promote school attendance and informal education.
According to the World Bank, a main donor to the ESDP, the
attendance rate for grades 1-9 increased from less than 80% prior to
2006 to more than 90% by 2009. Under the ESDP, about 43,000 out of
school children (aged 6-14 years) have been brought into the
education system between 2006-2007. The government provides free
education up to university level and free school uniforms and
subsidized transport to school children. In addition, the
government also offers free breakfasts to over 500,000 school
children from low income families. With UNICEF assistance, Sri
Lanka has established over 1,100 child-friendly schools to encourage
enrollment and retention. Despite these education achievements, Sri
Lanka still faces challenges in providing equitable access to
education for children, mainly in rural and formerly conflict areas.
Quality of education in these areas is also a problem.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning has prepared a National Action
Plan for Children (2010-2014) to replace the National Action Plan
for Children (2004-2008) although it is yet to be published.
According to officials at the National Planning Department, the new
plan includes action plans to eliminate child labor and exploitative
child labor.

The government's National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) is the
lead agency charged with formulating policies and protecting
children from all forms of abuse including trafficking and CSEC.
The government is implementing a National Plan of Action on
Trafficking in Children under the purview of the NCPA. Post is
currently preparing a report on Trafficking in Persons which will
provide additional information.

During 2009, the Ministry of Labor and Manpower convened a
tripartite technical working group on exploitative child labor. The
working group was charged with finalizing regulations to prohibit
exploitative child labor. The Ministry of Labor and Manpower also
participated in an ILO-sponsored initiative which seeks to
mainstream child labor into other development policies and
planning.

Since the conclusion of the ILO-IPEC project in Sri Lanka, the
government focus on combating exploitative child labor has
diminished somewhat due to fiscal constraints.

Sri Lanka has ratified or signed the following international or
regional conventions to combat trafficking:
--The SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in
Women and Children for Prostitution (ratified in 2002);
--The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Children and Women (signed in 2000, not
ratified); and
--Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on
children, child prostitution, and child pornography (ratified in
2006).

2F) SOCIAL PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE EXPLOITATIVE CHILD LABOR
The Ministry of Education is continuing its efforts to improve
education for the children of plantation workers who are especially
vulnerable to exploitative child labor. The Ministry of Education
has recruited over 3,000 teachers for estate schools in 2007. The
Ministry of Education is taking steps to hold additional classes for
school children in secondary classes (year 10) in the plantation
areas. Plantation companies which manage large government-owned
plantations in Sri Lanka have also invested in social programs to
encourage schooling and prevent children entering the labor force.
As a result, some plantation children have entered university.
According to one company, most children now study at least up to
Ordinary Level Certificate (11 years of schooling). The ILO is
collaborating with district level government officials and central
government ministries in a Youth Employment Project in the
plantation province of Sabaragamuwa. The project aims to strengthen
the employment prospects of plantation youth over 14 years.

Social programs under the NCPA also exist for children orphaned by
the tsunami. The NCPA has established a district-wide network
consisting of NCPA, child rights promotion officers and probation
officers to monitor the progress of orphan children.

A separate government led program exists for rehabilitation and
re-integration of ex-child combatants of the TMVP and now-defeated
LTTE. These children, numbering about 556 as of November 2009, are
provided residential educational and vocational training facilities
in two centers in Colombo and Vavuniya (Northern Province). Of the
556 ex-child combatants, 180 students sat for the O-level
examination (after completing 11 years of schooling) in December
2009. They were provided with catch-up education classes to enable
them to sit the examination. The government is taking action to
re-unify these children with their families by allowing family
visits at the two facilities. UNICEF maintains a database of
children reported by their families as missing and recruited. There
are five possible cases of child soldiers who were reported by their
families as recruited by the TMVP. Since the children have not yet
been located, their association with the TMVP cannot be confirmed or
denied. Post is currently investigating this matter in detail for
the 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report. There are also 33
outstanding cases of LTTE recruits. Following the conclusion of the
war, these children are not presumed to be currently engaged in
conflict - rather, they are unaccounted for despite UNICEF's and
local authorities' investigations.

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