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2003-10-23 10:30:00
Embassy Colombo
Cable title:  

Interior Ministry officials request more

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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 COLOMBO 001837 




E.O. 12958: DECL: 10-23-13
SUBJECT: Interior Ministry officials request more
police training and review human trafficking problem

Refs: (A) Colombo 1826
- (B) Colombo 1343, and previous

(U) Classified by Ambassador Jeffrey J. Lunstead.
Reasons 1.5 (b,d).


1. (C) The Ambassador met October 20 with Interior
Minister Amaratunga and Interior Secretary Junaid.
Amaratunga underscored his appreciation for U.S.-
sponsored police training programs and requested further
assistance. Junaid discussed the GSL's efforts to curb
human trafficking. Turning briefly to the peace
process, Amaratunga expressed appreciation to the U.S.
for its continued application of public pressure on the
Tamil Tigers. We think additional assistance to the
police -- who are set to assume a more prominent role
with Sri Lanka's move away from war to peace -- is an
important priority. END SUMMARY.

Meeting at Interior Ministry

2. (SBU) On October 20, Ambassador Lunstead made an
introductory call at the Interior Ministry, meeting with
Minister John Amaratunga and Secretary M.N. Junaid. A
leading politician in Sri Lanka, Amaratunga is a senior
United National Party (UNP) MP from the "Catholic belt"
located north of Colombo and is the most senior
Christian politician in the Buddhist-dominated
government (he also serves as Minister of Christian
Affairs). Junaid, a Muslim, is one of Sri Lanka's most
senior and respected civil servants.

Request for more Assistance for Police

3. (C) During the meeting, Amaratunga underscored his
appreciation for the police training programs that the
U.S. has sponsored in the past for GSL personnel.
(Note: He was referring to the participation of a high-
ranking Sri Lankan police officer at the recent
International Association of Chiefs of Police conference
in Philadelphia, and INL-sponsored training in basic
drug enforcement and serious crimes investigation). He
requested more assistance, especially in providing
training in investigative techniques. With respect to
equipment, he said Sri Lanka's police could utilize
special investigative machinery, such as the Automated
Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). The
Ambassador replied that assisting the police was an
important priority, and we would closely examine what
sort of new programs we could sponsor.

Update on Human Trafficking

4. (C) Junaid briefed the Ambassador on GSL efforts to
curb human trafficking. Noting the arrest of over 750
Pakistanis, Indians, and others who were being
trafficked through Sri Lanka earlier this year
(see Ref B), Junaid said domestic and international
media reporting of the GSL's crackdown on such illegal
operations had sent a message to would-be smugglers that

Sri Lanka would not tolerate such activities. He said
he thought this might be the reason for the drop in
trafficking cases in recent months. Stressing his
government's commitment to addressing this matter fully
and systematically, Junaid said plans were under way to
develop a database to track foreign visitors. He
admitted, however, that there was no such system
currently in operation.

5. (C) Junaid also reviewed the improved anti-forging
features of new Sri Lankan passports -- personal
identification information is encoded in the document,
which is visible only with special detection machines
that will be able to verify the authenticity of Sri
Lankan passports. The system is under trial and the
GSL's intent is to eventually provide the detection
machines to all diplomatic missions in Colombo.

6. (C) Amaratunga also took the opportunity to raise
the issue of obtaining five-year U.S. visas for Sri
Lankans. The Ambassador indicated that this involved
reciprocity and the U.S. was ready to discuss the entire
range of visa categories with the GSL. (Note: For most
classes of visas, the U.S. only approves one-year visas
for Sri Lankans.)

Concerns regarding the LTTE

7. (C) Turning briefly to the peace process, Amaratunga
expressed his appreciation to the U.S. for its continued
application of public pressure on the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). He said he believed that the
pressure the group felt from the U.S. and the rest of
international community was forcing the group to be more
cautious. That said, Amaratunga expressed concern that
the lack of recent involvement in the peace process by
Anton Balasingham, the LTTE's London-based spokesman who
has extensive international experience (see Reftels),
was resulting in the group becoming somewhat more
militant. This increased militancy, Amaratunga stated,
was steadily having a debilitating effect on support for
the peace process, with many in the south growing
increasingly worried about the LTTE's intentions.


8. (C) Amaratunga and Junaid are articulate
interlocutors and are considered to be effective
administrators. Both men are long-standing contacts of
Mission's and the meeting served to underline the
closeness of that relationship. We will follow up on
Amaratunga's request for more assistance for the police.
We think additional assistance to the police -- who are
set to assume a more prominent role with Sri Lanka's
move away from war to peace -- is an important priority.
Assistance to the GSL's effort to get a better handle on
who is entering the country could also be valuable. END

9. (U) Minimize considered.