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Cablegate: Trafficking & Slavery Claims Shut Down Local

VZCZCXRO9328
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #1293 3101536
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 061536Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8169
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0072

UNCLAS MAPUTO 001293

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SMIG ELAB KFRD MZ
SUBJECT: TRAFFICKING & SLAVERY CLAIMS SHUT DOWN LOCAL
COMPANY

1. On November 2, the Mozambican Labor Inspectorate (IGT)
suspended all activities of Mozambican flower producer,
Golden Roses (owned by the wife of a former Minister of
Foreign Relations) due to indications of gross worker rights
violations, including slavery-like working conditions. In
the week prior to the suspension, some 90 workers at Golden
Roses began to protest poor living conditions, unsanitary
water, no bathrooms, lack of food, and lack of safety
equipment. The demonstrations eventually drew the interest
of the press, and subsequently the Ministry of Labor, which
sent an inspector to the company headquarters the day after
the press report. The inspector found enough evidence to
immediately suspend activities until the company implements a
list of recommendations made by the IGT.

2. While the press rightly focused on working conditions,
they did not pursue the story's apparent ties to internal
trafficking in persons. Nearly 100 workers were recruited by
the owner in Tete and Manica provinces, promised certain
working conditions, including decent housing and food and
fair wages, and provided with transportation to Maputo
Province. Some workers compared working and living
conditions to being in prison. Because many of the workers
did not have money to return to their provinces, they opted
to demonstrate in the hopes of gaining press attention. The
Mozambican Human Rights League (LDH) is closely following the
issue and has stated that despite the lack of a law against
trafficking in persons, this case seemed to certainly fall
under that category.

3. COMMENT: While reports of worker rights violations are
not uncommon in Mozambique, this is one of the rare occasions
where a Mozambican company is involved (most recent cases
have involved Chinese companies). The link to a former
Minister of Foreign Relations is also noteworthy,
particularly because the IGT did not hesitate to act despite
the company's connections to a high-ranking former government
official. While the case may not meet the USG definition of
trafficking, it is nonetheless significant that the issue was
discussed openly, particularly in a country where few
citizens are aware that the problem exists. End comment.
Chapman

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