Cablegate: Tip: Coordinated Mekong Ministerial

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1. (SBU) At the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial
Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) Senior
Officials Meeting (SOM) and Inter Ministerial
Meeting (IMM) in Beijing December 12-14, delegates
from Burma, Cambodia, China, Laos, Thailand and
Vietnam discussed regional cooperation and
coordination on trafficking in persons issues and
highlighted the steps their respective countries
have taken to implement the Sub-regional Plan of
Action (SPA). Ministers from the COMMIT countries
signed a Joint Declaration committing to work
together to implement the SPA and emphasized the
importance of consulting civil society and victim
representatives in national and regional plans to
combat trafficking. End Summary.

2. The Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative
against Trafficking (COMMIT) Senior Officials
Meeting (SOM) and Inter Ministerial Meeting (IMM)
were held in Beijing December 12-14. PolOffs
attended as observers.

SOM Reviews National Activities

3. At the SOM opening ceremony, Ministry of Public
Security Vice Minister Zhang Xinfeng praised the
role of COMMIT in fighting trafficking in persons
and outlined two objectives for the Beijing COMMIT
meeting: review each country's progress in
implementing the Sub-regional Plan of Action (SPA)
and discuss planning for the next SPA phase. UNDP
Country Director Subinay Nandy emphasized a victim-
centered, rights-based approach to combating
trafficking, saying this is the "very heart" of the
COMMIT process. Following the opening remarks,
officials from each COMMIT country briefed on the
steps their respective countries have taken to
implement the SPA. Highlights from each country's
report follow:

-- Burma: Burmese officials said Burma established
an anti-trafficking unit within the Burma Police
Force, developed bilateral MOUs with Thailand and
China and sent officials to various trafficking-
related training programs. They noted that Burma's
National Action Plan and implementation plan are
awaiting review and approval by the cabinet and
described as a "milestone" the enactment of an anti-
trafficking law that criminalizes "all forms of
trafficking." The Burmese officials said a Border
Liaison Office dedicated to trafficking was opened
with China at Muse.

-- Cambodia: Ministry of Women's Affairs Secretary
of State You Ay said Cambodia established a new
national taskforce to implement bilateral and
multilateral MOUs for the elimination of trafficking
and created a National Leading Working Group led by
the Deputy Prime Minister to oversee the
implementation of all anti-trafficking activities.
She described training programs attended by
government and NGO officials. Between January and
November 2007, police conducted 101 trafficking-
related operations, arresting 55 offenders, she
stated. In August, the Council of Ministers
approved a new draft law on the suppression of human
trafficking and sexual exploitation.

-- China: Ministry of Public Security (MPS) Criminal
Investigation Department Director General Du Hangwei
emphasized China's new MPS Office for Preventing and
Combating Crimes of Trafficking in Women and
Children and China's National Plan of Action (NPA).
He stated that the NPA is China?s first national
anti-trafficking document and will be implemented by
twenty-eight government agencies. He described a
number of anti-trafficking awareness campaigns that
took place in China. Du said Chinese government
officials attended several trafficking-related
workshops and noted that China is developing pilot
projects to improve assistance and recovery for

-- Laos: Police Department Deputy Director General
Kiengkham Inphengthavong said Laos's National Plan

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of Action is being finalized with help from the
Netherlands and will be completed in early to mid-
2008. He described several training programs for
Laos officials and bilateral efforts with Thailand
to combat trafficking.

-- Thailand: National Center on Prevention and
Suppression of Human Trafficking Director Rarinthip
Sirorat said Thailand tasked the Ministry of Social
Development and Human Security to implement the SPA
and set up a national inter-ministerial COMMIT task
force. Sirorat noted that a pilot program
established to identify and trace missing persons
has been extended for another four months (until
January 2008) following an internal review.
Thailand also passed the Act on Prevention and
Suppression of Human Trafficking which includes men
in the definition of human trafficking. The law was
passed on November 28 and is expected to be enacted
in April 2008.

-- Vietnam: Ministry of Public Security General
Department of Police Deputy Director General Nguyen
Hoa Binh reported that Vietnam made efforts to bring
its definition of "trafficked victim" into agreement
with international standards. Vietnam and China
conducted campaigns to combat trafficking along
their mutual border, and Vietnam and Thailand
negotiated a draft agreement on combating
trafficking in persons that is expected to be signed
in Hanoi in early 2008.

4. During a question and answer session for
delegations and NGO representatives (that was closed
to the press), anonymous, written questions were
addressed to all delegations, although Burma
responded to nearly every question. The Burmese
delegation said (in response to various questions)
that Burma supports including Malaysia in future
COMMIT meetings, intends to work with as many UN
agencies as possible on trafficking, plans to
include youth in policy planning and supports the
role of NGOs in the fight against trafficking.

5. On December 13, the second day of the COMMIT,
which was closed to Embassy observers, delegations
discussed the outcome of the Mekong Youth Forum, the
second phase of the SPA and a draft Joint

IMM: Joint Declaration Agreed

6. On the COMMIT meeting's last day, during the
Inter Ministerial Meeting, ministers provided brief
remarks on the COMMIT process. The session included
a keynote address by China's Minister of Public
Security Meng Jianzhu. Meng announced that the PRC
State Council had approved China's National Plan of
Action to combat trafficking and said the plan will
be made public in the near future. He stressed the
importance of COMMIT countries improving
repatriation procedures, but said legal issues and
security concerns remain obstacles to this process.
He noted that integrating trafficking victims back
into society is a significant challenge. UN
Resident Coordinator Khalid Malik stressed the
relationship between poverty and trafficking, saying
"the fight against human trafficking is also a fight
against poverty." Malik said political will from
the highest levels of government is crucial to
combat trafficking. In their five-minute remarks,
the ministers all reiterated their country's
commitment to COMMIT and regional efforts to combat
trafficking in persons.

7. The Joint Declaration, which each minister signed
at the conclusion of the IMM, reaffirmed COMMIT's
commitment to combating trafficking in persons in
the region, included a provision emphasizing the
importance of consulting civil society and victim
representatives in national and regional plans for
combating trafficking and pledged to place the
rights of the individual at the center of policy and
law. (Note: A copy of the Joint Declaration was
sent to EAP/CM.) An International Labor
Organization official told us the Joint
Declaration's mention of civil society and victims
in national and regional plans is an important

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development that he is pleased to see. (Note: NGO
views on the COMMIT will be reported septel.)


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