IV. Country Narratives: South Asia
Afghanistan is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and labor. Children are trafficked to Pakistan, Iran, and Saudi Arabia for begging, labor, and prostitution. Children are often trafficked with the consent of their parents who are told they will have better educational and job opportunities abroad. Over 200 Afghan children were repatriated from Saudi Arabia in early 2004. Women and girls are kidnapped, lured by fraudulent marriage proposals, or sold for forced marriage and prostitution in Pakistan. Women and girls are also trafficked internally as a part of the settlement of disputes or debts as well as for forced marriage and labor and sexual exploitation. Boys are trafficked internally mainly for labor and sexual exploitation. Iranian women transit Afghanistan to Pakistan where they are forced into prostitution.
Kala grew up in West Bengal, and was married off by her family at the age of 12. Her new husband was twice her age. Within weeks she ran away to live with a great aunt, seeking refuge from her husband's sexual violence. She was forcibly returned to her husband, and suffered the drudgery of domestic servitude by day and sexual torture by night. Kala ran away again, six months pregnant, and found a "Good Samaritan" who sold her into prostitution for less than 25 US Dollars. Her new madam forced her to have an abortion and to serve customers at the brothel within days. Kala was rescued from the brothel and is now receiving care from an NGO.
Given the extremely limited resources available to the Transition Islamic State of Afghanistan, the anti-trafficking efforts seen in 2003 are commendable. Over the last year, new information -- particularly an exhaustive International Organization for Migration (IOM) report -- shed light on Afghanistan's sizeable trafficking problem, justifying the country's debut on this report.
The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so despite severe resource constraints. As a country in transition after more than 20 years of armed conflict, the government is rebuilding infrastructure and re-establishing the police and judicial sys-tem. By adopting comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation and seeking continued cooperation with donors and international organizations, the government can begin to sustain and strengthen its nascent efforts.
Afghanistan's law enforcement actions against trafficking improved during 2003, as police arrested suspected traffickers and for the first time rescued victims. The judiciary currently applies a mix of legal codes, Shari'a law, and customary law. Traffickers may be prosecuted under a number of statutes prohibiting kidnapping, rape, forced labor, transportation of minors, and child endangerment. In September 2003, police in Takhar intercepted a convoy carrying more than 50 children from Badakhshan and arrested eight men on suspicion of trafficking. Two people were arrested in Baghlan for allegedly kidnapping 12 children from Badakhshan with the intent to traffic them to Peshawar, Pakistan. Unreliable communication between government officials, and a lack of crime statistics in general, preclude the systematic monitoring of trafficking cases. Given the resources of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan, adequate border monitoring is not feasible.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and UNICEF in 2003 established a transit center and a family verification system to assist in reuniting trafficked children with their parents. By March 2004, 219 children had been repatriated from Saudi Arabia. Representatives from the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission monitor each child's reintegration at the local level, including obtaining signed guarantees that the child will not be sent away in the future. Beyond basic repatriation services, such as providing clothes, temporary shelter, and documenting and monitoring reunification, government authorities lack the resources to provide further assistance.
The Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan established an inter-ministerial Child Trafficking Commission that includes representatives from international organizations to develop coordination between ministries. UNICEF and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission conducted a workshop on child trafficking in September for police officers from all 32 provinces, border police officials, and representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Women's Affairs, and the Kabul Juvenile Court. The Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs also held meetings in Kabul with 100 mullahs (Islamic clergy) to discuss trafficking and enlist their support in using their positions of influence to spread an anti-trafficking message. In October, provincial government officials, representatives from the Ministry of Justice, police, and local NGOs attended workshops on abduction and child trafficking in the northern provinces of Kunduz and Takhar. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission conducted workshops on trafficking and disseminated posters on child rights and trafficking to schools, government departments, and the police.
[*Please note: Bangladesh was updated to Tier 2 Watch List per President George W. Bush, Presidential Determination No. 2004-46, September 10, 2004.]
Bangladesh is a country of origin and transit for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, involuntary domestic servitude, and debt bondage. An estimated 10-20,000 women and girls are trafficked annually to India, Pakistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). A small number of women and girls are trafficked through Bangladesh from Burma to India. Bangladeshi boys are also trafficked into the U.A.E. and Qatar and forced to work as camel jockeys and beggars. Women and children from rural areas in Bangladesh are trafficked to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation and domestic work.
The Government of Bangladesh does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Bangladesh has moved from Tier 2 to Tier 3 because it failed to make significant efforts to prosecute traffickers and address the complicity of government officials in trafficking. Overall, the government's anti-trafficking efforts stagnated although there was progress in the area of building public awareness and prevention. Public corruption is rampant, although the government did pass legislation in February 2004 to create an Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate and prosecute cases of all types of corruption. Police officials are known to facilitate trafficking of women and children, though none has ever been charged or arrested. Bangladesh should take greater steps to address government corruption and prosecute officials who are involved in trafficking. The Bangladeshi Government works in close cooperation with the various NGOs fighting trafficking.
Although the government faces significant resource constraints, it receives considerable international assistance, some of which could be used to attack corruption in the police and judiciary, and some of which is already being used to provide social services for trafficking victims. The government has failed to make a priority of protecting trafficking victims or prosecuting their exploiters.
The government's efforts led to 72 arrests of suspected traffickers in 2003 -- an increase from 60 arrests made the previous year -- although convictions declined from 30 in 2002 to 17 in 2003. The police should take far greater initiative in pursuing trafficking investigations and follow through on a previous commitment to create a specialized anti-trafficking unit. No public officials ere prosecuted for trafficking crimes during the reporting period. The August 2003 creation of a "Speedy Trial" anti-trafficking court, which could handle trafficking prosecutions, was a notable achievement, though it has not yet produced a trafficking conviction. The government does not adequately monitor its borders; corruption among border guards is a major obstacle to anti-trafficking progress.
The government does not offer shelter to trafficking victims, but refers victims to NGOs such as the Bangladeshi Women Lawyers Association for shelter, medical care, and counseling. The government does not provide witness protection in trafficking prosecutions. Bangladesh provided no training to its overseas diplomats on detecting and caring for victims of trafficking in key destination countries.
During the reporting period, the government showed continued, modest efforts to prevent trafficking in persons. The Ministry of Women and Children's Affairs (MOWCA) in early 2004 led an inter-ministerial effort to raise awareness on trafficking and other forms of violence against women. In 2003, MOWCA established "one-stop" crisis centers in two hospitals for female victims of violence, including trafficking victims, and led month-long "Road Marches" in 2003 and 2004, covering 38 of 64 districts to highlight trafficking problems. In an effort to prevent trafficking, the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment issued new regulations in December 2003 governing the recruitment of Bangladeshi women for work as domestic servants in Saudi Arabia.
India is a source, transit, and destination country for women, children, and men trafficked for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. Indian men and women are placed into situations of coerced labor and sometimes slave-like conditions in countries in the Middle East and children may be forced to beg or work as camel jockeys. Bangladeshi women and children are trafficked to India or transit through India en route to Pakistan and the Middle East for purposes of sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor. Nepalese women and girls are trafficked to India for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and forced labor. India is also a growing destination for sex tourists from Europe, the United States, and other Western countries. Internal trafficking of women, men, and children for purposes of sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, bonded labor, and indentured servitude is widespread.
The Government of India does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Considerable progress was made in the area of prosecutions this past year, but police efforts continue to be hindered by a lack of coordination among different state police departments, weak interstate networking among the police, and lack of access to information technology for collecting information and surveillance. India needs to disseminate and share information better; create a data collection system for detecting interstate and cross border trafficking; and improve the collection and analysis of data on trafficking-related arrests, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences. Sensitization and anti-corruption training linked to trafficking should be delivered down to the lowest level law enforcement officers. Adoption of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, or amending existing legislation to remove sections used to punish victims, would significantly improve India's fight against trafficking.
India is placed on Tier 2 Watch List this year as the result of its failure to demonstrate increased central government law enforcement response to India's huge trafficking problem and inadequate local prosecutions in Mumbai and Calcutta. Sustained and improved law enforcement efforts at the state level were again not matched by central government efforts to investigate and prosecute the most significant criminal forces behind India's trafficking industry. The vast majority of trafficking in India occurs across state lines, making these crimes inherently difficult for state police agencies to investigate and prosecute without central coordination. Trafficking across India's international borders remains significant. The central government in New Delhi has not made sufficient efforts to use its national law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute inter-state and international trafficking. There remain no prosecutions of trafficking offenses by the federal government. The Indian Government should recognize trafficking as a federal offense and prosecute it accordingly, bringing its considerable resources to bear against the problem.
Whereas the Government of India's efforts to combat trafficking in persons is uneven, Indian NGOs are world leaders in their activities to fight trafficking.
The number of local arrests, convictions, prosecutions, and sentences increased considerably in 2003, particularly in New Delhi, and Chennai. There were numerous reports of victims charged as criminals, brothel owners paying bribes to law enforcement officials, tip-offs of upcoming raids by corrupt officials, and border officials turning a blind eye to trafficking. Continued anti-corruption and sensitization training linked to trafficking for law enforcement and government officials in addition to severe penalties for complicity is essential for India to strengthen its law enforcement efforts against traffickers in the future.
Precise law enforcement statistics relating to arrests, prosecution, and convictions are difficult to obtain in India, and the time between arrest, trial and case conclusion can vary greatly. Trafficking is prosecuted under many different laws, making it very difficult to identify which cases are prosecuted as trafficking cases. From January to May 2003, various Indian states initiated prosecutions of at least 2,504 cases against those employing child laborers, of which a significant proportion may be trafficked, and reported 318 convictions; most were the result of prosecutions begun in 2002.
Mumbai police established a special anti-trafficking squad of over 30 officers focused on combating sexual exploitation of women and children and trafficking in Mumbai's bars. Fifty-seven women and 10 girls were rescued in a sweep of the Jamuna Mansion brothel in Mumbai last July. The police brought charges against 18 brothel owners for kidnapping a minor for prostitution. In November 2003 the Mumbai police carried out a coordinated raid on seven brothels. Twenty women, including minors, were rescued and brothel owners and customers were arrested. A criminal lawyer was also arrested for selling a 15-year-old girl to a brothel after obtaining bail for her. Mumbai city police together with NGOs recently rescued over 100 children aged 9-12 employed in sari factories. A judge in Mumbai sentenced two brothel owners to five years' imprisonment and a fine of 65,000 rupees each.
In February 2004, the Mumbai police unit conducted a raid on 52 bars across the city and arrested 1,500 people. It is unclear how many traffickers were arrested or how many victims of trafficking were rescued in these raids. Together with the Mumbai and Navi police, an NGO assisted in conducting 36 raids and rescued 120 girls trafficked into prostitution. These raids resulted in 19 prosecutions and only three convictions. Considering Mumbai is home to one of the largest red light districts in the world, the number of convictions handed down in the past year is grossly inadequate.
The state of Tamil Nadu established two anti-trafficking squads. Over a five-month time period, the Tamil Nadu police investigated 28 cases of trafficking, in which 49 people were arrested and 118 girls were rescued. Twenty-five cases against sex traffickers are pending in the Tamil Nadu courts. In the past year, 90 traffickers were arrested under Sections 4 and 5 of the ITPA, and 19 were convicted. There is no information on the sentences handed down to these traffickers. The Tamil Nadu Railway Police arrested six people for trafficking children for labor exploitation. In February 2004, the police and Social Defense Department rescued 27 children brought to Chennai for sexual exploitation and arrested five suspected traffickers, whose cases are ongoing. The state government of Tamil Nadu also initiated prosecution against 550 employers over the last year for employing child labor, the majority of which is believed to be trafficked.
In 2003, over 180 traffickers were arrested in New Delhi, of which 35 were convicted. Of those convicted, 27 were sentenced to prison terms of seven years or more -- the maximum penalty. New Delhi police also permanently closed three brothels for repeated offenses related to holding minors on their premises. Three people were sentenced for kidnapping and forcing a boy into bonded labor. Police in New Delhi arrested a man running a fraudulent manpower agency that sent 73 people to Libya for non-existent jobs.
Other Indian states have also taken action against traffickers. In 2003, the Calcutta City police arrested and charged 30 people for kidnapping for prostitution under the Indian Penal Code. The Calcutta police also arrested 168 people under the Immoral Trafficking Protection Act (ITPA), charged 99 people, and convicted only 10. Calcutta police efforts to rescue minor trafficking victims have been stymied by efforts of the city's "sex workers union" to block police access to major red-light areas. Violence and mob tactics by the "sex workers union" against police and prosecutors may contribute to the low rate of arrests and successful prosecutions in Calcutta.
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu state police working together with an NGO rescued 33 child victims and arrested two traffickers. The Karnataka police and an NGO collaborated on anti-trafficking actions resulting in 66 trafficking arrests, of which 62 resulted in prosecutions. In 2003, the Andhra Pradesh state police charged 130 people with trafficking related offenses, 68 were under sections four, five, six, and seven of the ITPA. In the state of Haryana, 23 trafficking-related arrests took place in the last eight months. In Nagaland, six people were charged under ITPA statutes over the past year and there are three ongoing cases in the state of Meghalaya.
The four principal laws that address trafficking are the ITPA, various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Child Labor Act. Legislation also exists in numerous states to prohibit the dedication to religious shrines of girls for exploitation. India's Constitution establishes law enforcement as a state responsibility, so state police forces take the lead in fighting trafficking, although much of the trafficking crosses several state or international borders. One weakness of the ITPA is that it permits the arrest of prostitutes for soliciting (Section 8) as well as arrest of traffickers (Section 7). In the past, victims were arrested far more frequently under Section 8 of the ITPA than were traffickers under Section 7. The Ministry of Law and Commerce, in consultation with the National Law University in Banglalore and non-governmental organizations, drafted amendments to the ITPA to remove Section 8. These amendments are awaiting approval by the government before submission to the Parliament.
Endemic corruption among law enforcement officials impedes India's progress in combating trafficking in persons. Many low-level border guards take bribes or turn a blind eye to cross-border trafficking. Some police officers have been implicated in tipping off brothels to impending raids. NGO's have conducted anti-trafficking training for state and federal police officials, reaching many high level officers; it is critical that lower-level officers also receive this training on trafficking. In July, police arrested a Punjab police officer for trafficking a minor into his home for labor and sexual exploitation. Lucknow police arrested a civil judge and six others for running an interstate trafficking ring. In March 2004, a New Delhi city court charged two sub-divisional magistrates and two others for their role in trafficking people abroad by forging documents and facilitating the trafficking of illiterate, unskilled laborers.
The central government over the past two years has opened 80 Protective Homes that provide custodial care, education, vocational training, and rehabilitation to victims of trafficking. The Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) established a network of over 350 short stay homes for the protection and rehabilitation of victims. The quality of rehabilitation and care facilities at government sponsored shelter facilities varies widely. Many government homes have been criticized for their lack of professional staff and harsh treatment of victims. To improve victim care at government-run facilities, some state governments, such as West Bengal, New Delhi, and Bihar allow qualified non-governmental organizations to place counselors in the shelters or manage the facilities. These public-private partnerships should be expanded. The Central Social Welfare Board provides financial assistance to NGOs to run development and care centers for the children of trafficking victims. The DWCD continues to sponsor the "Swadhar" program to provide services to women, including trafficking victims. The state of Maharashtra received $1.25 million to construct a new shelter facility for rescued trafficking victims. A Calcutta-based NGO received Swadhar funding to expand its shelter for minor victims of trafficking.
State governments implemented a number of projects targeting the rescue and rehabilitation of victims through their own agencies and in collaboration with NGOs. The Karnataka government's devdasi rehabilitation program offers training in different vocations. The Andhra Pradesh state government runs six short stay homes. In addition, the Andhra Pradesh state government provided land to an NGO to build a shelter and rehabilitation center for trafficked women and girls in the area that constitutes Andhra Pradesh's major source of trafficking victims. The Maharashtra state government established a Guidance and Monitoring Committee for state-run juvenile homes enabling them to be co-managed by social welfare and anti-trafficking NGOs. As part of this effort, Maharashtra's Social Defense Department increased staff; added nurses, physicians, and psychiatrists to the facilities; improved diets; and increased recreational, vocational and literacy opportunities and individual counseling. The Maharashtra state government established special Juvenile Homes with facilities for vocational training, counseling, and health care for sexually exploited victims. Victims are provided monthly financial assistance and their children receive free educational materials. The Tamil Nadu state government runs five shelter homes for women, including trafficking victims, with a capacity of 500. Besides rehabilitation, the Tamil Nadu state government operates a fund to assist female victims of trafficking and other forms of violence.
The central and state governments continue to support a variety of prevention programs begun in pst years. A joint program of the U.S. and Indian Governments will provide $40 million for programs to move child laborers, of whom many are trafficked, into the schoolroom. The Central government also approved and began implementing a $133.78 million plan to eliminate child labor from hazardous occupations by 2007.
To prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the state of Goa passed the Children's Act of 2003, which criminalizes child labor, child prostitution, child abuse, and child trafficking. A unique clause in the law prevents tourists from escorting an unrelated child. The Act does not allow a child to enter any room of any hotel or establishment which provides boarding or lodging, unless with a family member. Hotels must ensure that children are protected on their premises, and also in adjoining beaches and parks.
Nepal is a source country for girls and women trafficked to India for the purposes of forced prostitution, domestic servitude, forced labor, and work in circuses. Many victims trafficked to India are lured with promises of decent work or marriage. Other victims are sold by family members or kidnapped by traffickers. Women are trafficked to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, and other Gulf countries, as well as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region for domestic servitude. Internal trafficking for forced labor and sexual exploitation also takes place. The Maoist insurgency continues to abduct and forcibly conscript children; since September 2003, it has abducted approximately 950 children.
The Government of Nepal does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Political instability and the armed Maoist insurgency, which now affects all parts of the country, prevented government efforts to combat trafficking in some areas. Several government coalitions have been unable to retain power; following the dissolution of parliament in May 2002, no elections have been held. As a result, draft legislation authorizing the prosecution of trafficking-related offenses remains in limbo, and the National Plan of Action has yet to be implemented. Passage of the draft legislation would further Nepal's fight against trafficking.
Nepal's law enforcement efforts against trafficking are limited due to continuing political instability and a severe lack of resources. Maoist insurgency activities have led to the withdrawal of police from most rural areas, and the number of reported investigations of trafficking decreased to 72. The Human Trafficking Control Act of 1986 criminalizes trafficking in persons, but the absence of a national legislature continues to delay enactment of comprehensive legislation. Prosecution of traffickers over the reporting period led to more stringent punishment being handed down. In June 2003, courts convicted seven Nepalis of trafficking over 100 victims to India, sentencing the ringleader to 75 years' imprisonment, while other members of the ring received sentences ranging from 12-36 years. In February 2004, a district court convicted a Nepali of selling his cousin to a brothel in India and sentenced him to a minimum of 15 years' imprisonment. NGO-assisted prosecutions resulted in enhanced penalties for traffickers. Cases brought by government attorneys have been far less successful.
The government provides limited funding to local NGOs to provide assistance with rehabilitation, medical care, and legal services. Directly and through district-level task forces, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MWCSW) coordinates NGO provision of victim rehabilitation and assistance. Victims are not detained, jailed, or deported, nor are they prosecuted for violations of other crimes. Although the police lack a formal referral process, victims are often transferred to local NGOs.
The MWCSW, NGOs, and UNIFEM implemented a nationwide anti-trafficking information campaign including radio programs, booklets, pamphlets, and billboards. Village Vigilance Committees formed in high-risk districts help train local residents to recognize possible trafficking cases. Government-initiated income-generation projects were introduced in more than 3,900 villages, providing micro-credit loans and poverty alleviation for women. Under a 2003 government initiative, all workers traveling overseas for employment are required to attend an orientation session explaining worker rights, safety issues, and relevant regulations. The government established a labor office at the airport to provide similar assistance to foreign-bound workers.
Pakistan is a source, transit, and destination country for trafficked persons. Women and girls are trafficked to Pakistan from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran, Burma, Nepal, and Central Asia for forced commercial sexual exploitation and bonded labor. Girls and women from rural areas are trafficked to urban centers for commercial sexual exploitation and labor. Women trafficked from East Asian countries and Bangladesh to the Middle East often transit through Pakistan. Adolescent boys are vulnerable to forced recruitments from local madrassas (Islamic schools) by armed groups fighting in Afghanistan and in Kashmir. Men, women, and children are trafficked to the Middle East to work as bonded laborers or in domestic servitude. Tougher enforcement efforts in Pakistan and the ban on child camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates are believed to have reduced the numbers of boys trafficked through Pakistan for that purpose.
The Government of Pakistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however it is making significant efforts to do so. Pakistan is placed on Tier 2 Watch List this year because of a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year. Authorities in Pakistan do not consistently differentiate between trafficking and smuggling so actual rates of prosecution are difficult to determine. Lack of resources also limits victim assistance efforts. Government officials greatly need training on the distinction between trafficking and smuggling; this along with increased resources allocated to victim assistance would significantly further Pakistan's fight against trafficking.
Pakistan's law enforcement efforts greatly increased over last year, when only 11 persons were arrested for trafficking, although Pakistan's rate of convictions remains quite low. According to the Federal Investigative Agency, 416 trafficking cases were investigated under the new legislation, 350 arrests were made, 60 cases went to trial, and six convictions were handed down. Several cases remain pending in the courts. A number of these cases may be smuggling cases, as law enforcement officials do not often distinguish between trafficking and smuggling. The Federal Investigative Agency and police increased their training efforts so that officers may better recognize trafficking cases and respect victims' rights. If rape or forced prostitution cases are prosecuted under "Hudood" ordinances (Islamic family law), a victim's testimony may be tantamount to an admission of adultery if prosecutors conclude the testimony does not meet the burden of proof. In 2003, two Federal Investigative Agency officials were prosecuted for corruption related to trafficking, and 15 others received disciplinary action.
In Pakistan, NGOs provide the majority of assistance and protection services for victims. The Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance calls for the government to provide victims relief from deportation, and access to medical care, shelter, and food. Victims may also be granted monetary compensation by the courts under this ordinance, but a severe lack of resources precludes the government from providing many of these services. The government does refer a few victims to NGOs to provide assistance. Victims continue to be officially detained and charged with underlying offenses material to their trafficking, such as immigration violations and prostitution.
The government does not support specific anti-trafficking prevention programs, but it does provide funding for poverty alleviation, eradication of child labor, female education, and women's income generation projects. In April, the Prime Minister established an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Illegal Immigration that is charged with developing a comprehensive policy to combat trafficking. The government organized two conferences to educate government officials and NGOs about trafficking.
Sri Lanka is a source country for women who are trafficked to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar for the purposes of coerced labor and sexual exploitation. A smaller number of Thai, Chinese, and Russian women were trafficked to Sri Lanka for commercial sexual exploitation. Women and children are trafficked internally for domestic and sexual servitude. Boys and girls are victims of commercial sexual exploitation by pedophiles in the sex tourism industry. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) forcibly conscript children for purposes of forced labor and military conscription. Although a formal cease-fire has been in place since February 2002, the LTTE continued to forcibly conscript children, abducting at least 75 children in the September-October 2003 period alone.
The Government of Sri Lanka does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The LTTE controls territory in the North and East, and in these areas the government is unable to investigate or prosecute traffickers. Sri Lanka should increase its cooperation with foreign governments and it should take greater steps to investigate and prosecute labor trafficking, sex tourism and pedophiles.
Sri Lanka's law enforcement efforts against trafficking improved with the introduction of a computerized immigration system that expands the number of officials that can input names of suspected traffickers or sex tourists who are subjects of an investigation and prevent them from leaving the country. The National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) instituted a CyberWatch Project to monitor suspicious chat rooms. Sting operations were conducted based on information gathered in these chat rooms, leading to several trafficking arrests. The Penal Code specifically criminalizes trafficking in persons. There were 190 investigations by the police into trafficking cases, which resulted in 33 prosecutions and six convictions. For those convicted, the sentence was one year of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 100,000 (about $1,000). Authorities conducted four investigations into alleged child trafficking; two cases were prosecuted and convicted, resulting in the deportation of the foreign individuals involved. Evidence collected by Sri Lankan authorities has assisted the United Kingdom in prosecuting a man for actions related to child sex trafficking. The government has extradition agreements with other Commonwealth countries.
The government runs rehabilitation camps, which offer medical and counseling services for victims of internal trafficking. The NCPA provides similar assistance to victims of commercial sexual exploitation and former child soldiers. The government provides a monthly food supplement to child victims registered with NGOs, and the government encourages victims to testify against their traffickers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assigns welfare officers to Sri Lanka's foreign missions to aid and assist women who may be victims of trafficking in the Middle East.
The NCPA includes child trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children in their information and public awareness campaigns. Some hotels in tourist areas known for commercial sexual exploitation of children now refuse to allow unaccompanied minors on their premises. The Ministry of Employment and Labor together with the ILO and IOM supported an educational campaign informing women intending to work in the Middle East of their rights and available remedies.