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Cablegate: Benin: Update On Gob Efforts to Combat Child Trafficking

VZCZCXRO9181
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHCO #0912/01 3331121
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291121Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY COTONOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0024
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOS/AMCONSUL LAGOS 1276
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 0276
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1200

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 COTONOU 000912

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/W (DBANKS), G/TIP (VZEITLIN), AND INL
PARIS FOR D'ELIA
ABUJA FOR TRIPPTREE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KCRM BN NI
SUBJECT: BENIN: UPDATE ON GOB EFFORTS TO COMBAT CHILD TRAFFICKING

REF: COTONOU 181

1. (U) SUMMARY: Benin has made some progress in the past several
months in the fight against child trafficking. The Ministry of
Family, Women and Children's National Child Protection Coordination
and Monitoring Working Group embarked on the planning of its 2008
activities and the approval of the two main policy documents that
will spearhead the GOB's child protection efforts. The GOB is ready
to issue the enabling decrees required for the enforcement of the
2006 Anti-Child Trafficking Act. In another development the EU
provided support to the Ministry of Family to help increase the
fight against child trafficking. Meanwhile, Benin and Nigeria are
working together to rescue Beninese minors exploited in Nigerian
stone quarries. END SUMMARY

--------------------------
WORKING GROUP ACTION PLANS
--------------------------

2. (U) The National Child Protection Coordination and Monitoring
Working Group, which functions as a Child Protection Task Force, is
composed of four main committees: the Committee on Traffic and
Exploitation, the Committee on Juvenile Justice, the Committee on
Violence and Harmful Practices and the Committee on Orphans and
Vulnerable Children. Each committee presented its 2008 action plans.
The plans focus on public awareness campaigns, training and data
collection. The Committees have been instructed to target primarily
monitoring and coordination measures in order to be in line with the
tasks assigned to the Working Group. The Working Group is now
considering ways to set up chapters at lower levels throughout Benin
to improve the monitoring of the anti-trafficking outreach effort.

--------------------------------------------- ---
ANTI-CHILD TRAFFICKING LAW READY FOR ENFORCEMENT
--------------------------------------------- ---

3. (U) The three amended implementing decrees for Act No. 2006-04
Relating to the Displacement of Minors and the Suppression of Child
Trafficking, passed by the National Assembly in January 2006 and
signed by President Yayi in April 2006, obtained all required
clearances and now are to be introduced to the Council of Ministers
for final approval.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
EU PROVIDES TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO MINISTRY OF FAMILY
--------------------------------------------- ---------

4. (U) On October 23, 2007, the EU launched a Cooperation and
Technical Assistance Bureau (BCAT) consisting of 4 locally recruited
resource persons and headed by a Belgian expert. The EU and GOB
tasked the BCAT to provide the Ministry of Family, Women and
Children with technical assistance in the area of child protection.
This body will implement a 4-year action plan. The objectives of the
BCAT include: strengthen the institutional capacity of the Family
Ministry, coordinate EU funded projects regarding child protection,
coordinate other actors involved in the fight against child
trafficking, and assess the GOB's progress in fighting child
trafficking.

--------------------------------------------- ------
NATIONAL PLAN TO COMBAT CHILD TRAFFICKING AND LABOR
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (U) The National Plan to Combat Child Trafficking and Labor,
funded by ILO/IPEC (International Labor Organization/International
Program for the Elimination of Child Labor), was approved on
September 28, 2007. The document focuses specifically on the
eradication of child labor and trafficking in Benin.

--------------------------------------------- -
2008-2012 NATIONAL POLICY FOR CHILD PROTECTION
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (U) The GOB completed drafting and editing of the UNICEF
sponsored National Policy and Strategy for Child Protection. On
November 6-7, representatives from the donors' community,
international organizations and local anti-trafficking NGOs gathered
in a session to review and approve the document. This 149 page
document centers on 7 principles intended to provide coherence,
focus and direction to all the activities undertaken by the
Government of Benin regarding the prevention, the rehabilitation and
the reintegration of vulnerable children.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
GOB MAKES PREPARATIONS TO CELEBRATE BENINESE CHILD DAY

COTONOU 00000912 002 OF 002


--------------------------------------------- ---------

7. (U) This year the Ministry of Family, Women and Children is
preparing to commemorate the Beninese Child Day on December 23, 2007
in Athieme, a border village with Togo, which functions as an entry
and transit point for children trafficked to and from Togo. The
event will focus on public awareness campaigns with the local
communities and on publicizing the anti-child trafficking law.

--------------------------------------------- -------
GOVERNMENTS OF BENIN AND NIGERIA LAUNCH SYNCHRONIZED PUBLIC
AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS ALONG THEIR BORDER
--------------------------------------------- -------

8. (U) As part of the action plan of the joint Benin-Nigeria
Committee on child trafficking, Beninese and Nigerian officials
jointly conducted a campaign against child-trafficking between the
two countries from August 12 through August 17. Nigeria's National
Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP),
Benin's Family Ministry, and UNICEF worked together on the campaign.
The campaign covered six villages along the Benin - Nigeria border
and targeted Beninese and Nigerian law enforcement agents and local
communities. In spite of the logistic difficulties that the team
faced in the field, the campaign was successful.

--------------------------------------------- -------
TERRE DES HOMMES ENGAGES IN REPATRIATION OF CHILDREN
--------------------------------------------- -------

9. (U) On July 27, Terre des Hommes, a Swiss NGO based in Cotonou,
signed a two-year cooperation agreement with the Association of
Beninese living in Nigeria's Ogun state to repatriate and
reintegrate children exploited in the quarries of Abeokuta, Ogun
state, and to improve their living conditions by providing them with
vocational training, health services and food. On August 27, Terre
des Hommes proposed a draft Memorandum of Understanding to the
Nigerian National Agency for the prohibition of Trafficking in
Person (NAPTIP) for the process of identification, rescue and
transport of the children trafficked in the Abeokuta stone quarries.
The two agreements result from a prevention strategy designed by the
two countries to stop the trafficking of children from Zakpota (a
region in central Benin) to Abeokuta's stone quarries. Benin's
Ministry of Family, Women and Children stated it was not adequately
involved in the decision making surrounding this agreement and
intends to bring it up at its next meeting with its Nigerian
counterparts.

10.(SBU) COMMENT: Terre des Hommes is the leading international
organization which provides shelter for victims of trafficking in
Benin. The fact that it is taking the lead in the rescue and
reintegration of trafficked children in Nigeria is perceived by the
Ministry of Family, Women and Children officials as an attempt to
take up one of their major responsibilities with the effect of
shadowing their own efforts. While the GOB may be indignant, it
remains heavily dependent on Terre des Hommes' shelters to provide
adequate care to Benin's trafficked children. END COMMENT

11.(U) Nyree Triptree at AmEmbassy Abuja cleared on paragraphs 8, 9,
and 10 of this cable.

BROWN

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