Tuesday, 15 June 2004  
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Interpol meeting on crimes against children begins:

Lanka takes positive action to curb child sex offences

by Sarath Malalasekera

Sri Lanka, being mindful of the dangerous and damaging nature of crimes against children, has taken positive action in meeting the threat, posed by such offences and by perpetrators of these criminal acts.

It is for this reason that the National Child Protection Authority, under the office of the President has been established, said Secretary of the Ministry of Public Security, Law and Order Tilak Ranaviraja at the twenty second meeting of Interpol Specialised Group on Crimes against Children.

"We are gathered here to take the "bull by its horns," to face squarely, the challenge posed by paedophiles who perpetrate crimes against helpless children," the secretary said.

The welcome address was delivered by Inspector General of Police Indra de Silva. Assistant Director, Trafficking in Human Beings, (THB) Sub Director - Interpol Hamish Mc Culloch also addressed the meeting.

Delivering the keynote address Ministry Secretary Ranaviraja who was the chief guest at the meeting held at the BMICH yesterday said that the Sri Lankan Police Department too has a separate Bureau for the prevention of Abuse of Children, Young Persons and Women.

This Bureau has made several good detections and also by various Police Stations in the country, that includes the detection of foreign child sex offenders.

The Secretary emphasised that about 1500 cases of child abuse had been reported in Sri Lanka for 2003. A special investigation unit comprising police officers was set up at the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) in 2002. This unit in addition to the conducting of investigations into the child abuse cases has also been successful in detecting, foreign child sex offenders (paedophiles) operating in Sri Lanka.

The meeting was organised by Interpol Headquarters, Lyon, France with the assistance of Interpol Sri Lanka section and the Children and Women's Bureau Headquarters, Sri Lanka Police.

Children and Women's Bureau Director Senior SP Sarath Jayasundera said that on a request made by Sri Lanka Police for the first time this conference was held in an Asian country.

Over 100 delegates from 35 countries participated at the inaugural meeting.

"In respect of offences against children, we feel that there is an urgent need to focus on the developing regions of the world such as ours," the Secretary added.

In the Western Hemisphere, the awareness and the amount of resources set apart for child sexual abuse investigations and operations, really make the developing countries, more vulnerable for child sex molesters, he said.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Crimes, Criminal Intelligence, Organised Crime and Police Narcotics Bureau DIG Jayantha Wickremaratne.

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