Cablegate: Embassy Cairo Submission for 2008 Tip Report
DE RUEHEG #0408/01 0591432
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281432Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8348
UNCLAS CAIRO 000408
DEPT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, NEA/RA, NEA/ELA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM SMIG PREF ASEC KFRD KCRM KWMN ELAB EG
SUBJECT: EMBASSY CAIRO SUBMISSION FOR 2008 TIP REPORT
REF: SECSTATE 2731
Sensitive but unclassified, not for Internet distribution.
1. (SBU) This message responds to reftel. Embassy POC is
poloff Aaron Berman, phone 20-2-2797-2550, fax 20-2-2797-2181,
firstname.lastname@example.org. Pol LES spent approximately 75 hours on
TIP-related activities and in preparation of the TIP report. Poloff
spent approximately 160 hours; ECPO Minister Counselor spent 40
hours; DCM spent 20 hours. The GoE POC for TIP is Deputy Assistant
Foreign Minister for Human Rights Wael Aboul Magd, 20-2-2574-9677.
Information in this report was gleaned from bilateral meetings,
other diplomatic contacts, press reporting, and documents provided
by the GoE. The following input is keyed to the questions in reftel
A. Egypt is neither a country of origin or destination for a
significant number of trafficking victims. An unknown number of
trafficking victims transit Egypt en route to other destinations,
notably Israel and Europe. There are currently no reliable
statistics available in Egypt for the magnitude of the problem.
Italy is the destination for significant numbers of illegal Egyptian
economic migrants. Israel is also a destination for African
economic migrants. Local media reported extensively on illegal
migration, including on deaths of attempted migrants and Egyptian
government prosecution of migrant smugglers, throughout the
International media and anti-trafficking organizations have reported
that young women may be forced by into temporary marriages with men
visiting from the Gulf, particularly during the summer, and may also
be trafficked into domestic servitude or forced marriages in the
Gulf. However, no reliable statistics are available to quantify the
extent of this phenomenon.
B. The most commonly mentioned trafficking scenario involves young
women from Eastern Europe arriving in Egypt by air, especially in
the Red Sea resorts of Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada. The women then
travel overland, often with the facilitation of Bedouin smugglers,
across the border into Israel where they are presumed to be employed
in that country's sex industry.
On November 11, an Israeli government report claimed that smuggling
of drugs and women for prostitution from Egypt to Israel had
dramatically declined, noting that no women were caught being
smuggled into Israel to serve as prostitutes in the first nine
months of 2007. We assess that such a decline would correlate with
a corresponding decline in trafficking victims transiting Egypt.
However, the head of the shelter for victims of women trafficking in
Israel Ruth Davidovich claimed in response to the Israeli government
report that some 30 women were currently staying at the shelter, and
that most of them were smuggled through the Egyptian border.
Additionally, on March 12, Egyptian police detained four Russian
women while attempting to cross into Israel to find work in
nightclubs. The four women were handed over to the Russian embassy
in Cairo for deportation. An Associated Press article from March 12
reported that between 5,000 and 10,000 women work involuntarily in
Israel's sex trade, according to Amnesty International many of them
are victims of human trafficking.
C. In July 2007, the Prime Minister's office issued a decree
establishing the "National Coordinating Committee to Combat and
Prevent Trafficking in Persons." The committee's responsibilities
include drafting national action plans for combating TIP, preparing
annual reports on national efforts pertaining to TIP, revising
TIP-related national legislation, communicating with different
entities on the issue, recommending procedures to assist TIP
victims, and developing anti-trafficking awareness campaigns. The
committee has met twice since its establishment.
On December 30, 2007, the National Council for Childhood and
Motherhood (NCCM) - an Egyptian governmental organization that has
the lead for assisting children and mothers - announced the
establishment of a special anti-trafficking unit. This measure came
in parallel with the launching of First Lady Suzanne Mubarak's
awareness campaign entitled "End Human Trafficking Now," calling for
adopting a set of ethical principles in the business community and
strengthening and raising international law enforcement
Mrs. Mubarak also addressed the first United Nations global forum
against human trafficking in Vienna on February 13, 2008. She
emphasized that the most effective way to combat trafficking is to
"break the wall of silence around it," and noted that Egypt is
developing victim protection services and revising the Egyptian
legal system with specific statutes against trafficking in persons.
D. Limitations on the government's ability to address TIP include
budgetary constraints, geographical limitations and treaty
restrictions on infrastructural improvements and troop numbers along
the Egyptian-Israeli border, under the Camp David Accord.
Furthermore, there is a lack of reliable statistics on the extent of
any trafficking problem, as well as a lack of consistent
understanding of the definition of trafficking at both the societal
and official level.
E. Egypt provided statistics on arrests and prosecutions of
trafficking cases under current law for the February 2008 UN forum
against trafficking in Vienna. Those statistics indicated that
Egyptian authorities investigated 102 cases that may have involved
elements of trafficking in persons from 2003 till 2007, including 73
cases involving facilitation of prostitution and exploitation and
seven cases of abusing or forcing children into begging. We note,
however, that the Egyptian definition of trafficking in persons may
not match the international definition or the U.S. definition, which
are different, and we cannot vouch that all 102 cases cited actually
involve trafficking offenses.
Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers
A. There is no specific Egyptian law prohibiting trafficking in
persons per se. Egyptian Ministry of Justice and Ministry of
Foreign Affairs officials have told us that they plan to draft new
anti-trafficking legislation to remedy any gaps in existing
legislation. This legislation is not expected in the current
session, which ends in July 2008.
Current provisions in the penal code against rape, abduction,
prostitution, and forced labor, are used to prosecute traffickers.
The maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment. Also, slavery is
illegal under Egyptian law.
The prescribed penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault range
from a minimum of three years to life imprisonment with hard labor.
The actual penalty imposed depends on a number of factors including
the ages of the victim and the perpetrator as well as their
relationship. Prostitution is illegal and the activities of
prostitutes, as well as of brothels, are criminalized. The
government generally enforces laws against prostitution.
With the full backing of Mrs. Mubarak, the NCCM has drafted
amendments to Egypt's 1996 child protection law that strengthens
anti-trafficking provisions in regards to children. The new bill
will be submitted during the current parliamentary session. The law
notes specifically that "the child shall be protected against
trafficking, sexual harassment, exploitation, sexual, emotional, and
physical abuse." It specifically delineates a penalty of at least
five years in prison and a fine of at least LE 50,000 (USD 8,993)
for anyone who "presents for purchasing, receives, or delivers a
child in order to be treated as a slave or with the intention of
usage in unlawful commercial or sexual exploitation or any other
illegitimate purposes." A new section on child labor forbids
children working under age 15, or being trained under age 13, and
defines humane working conditions. Those in violation are subject
to fines beginning at LE 200 (USD 36), doubling for each violation,
and any who "endanger the life of a child," which includes exposing
a child to "abuse, violence, exploitation, or displacement," incurs
a sentence of at least three months in prison. The new law
increases the minimum age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18, and
the age of consent is already defined to be 18.
Additionally, local press reported on February 7 that the
Suggestions and Complaints Committee of the People's Assembly will
begin discussing adding two new legal provisions that criminalize
selling of children and set penalties ranging from temporary
imprisonment to life sentence with hard labor.
B. According to the Anti-Prostitution law from 1961, the penalty for
sexual exploitation varies between one and three years imprisonment.
Exploitation of a victim under the age of 21 carries a penalty of
one to five years of imprisonment, and the use of any means for
coercion, threat or abuse of the victim to sexually exploit him/her,
carries one to seven years.
C. Egypt is a signatory of ILO convention 182 concerning prohibition
of the worst forms of child labor. Egypt is also a party to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child (with a reservation regarding
adoption) ILO Convention 29, and ILO Convention 105. Egypt is also
a signatory to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish
Trafficking in Persons supplementing the UN Convention Against
Transnational Organized Crime.
D. Rape is criminalized under the Egyptian Penal Code with a minimum
of three years imprisonment. In cases of rape by guardians,
perpetrators may face up to a life sentence with hard labor. In
cases of rape and abduction the penalty may be up to life in prison,
and up to capital punishment in the case of rape and abduction under
E. Prostitution is illegal, activities of prostitutes are
criminalized, and laws are generally enforced.
F. On November 12, 2007 local media reported that Egyptian police
arrested Mahmoud Al Agnaby for imprisoning five boys and a girl aged
between 12 and 19, repeatedly sexually assaulting them, and for two
years forcing them to beg in the streets.
In February 2005, a criminal court in South Sinai convicted Talal
Soliman of attempting to smuggle five Russian (and/or Moldovan)
women to Israel. Soliman was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison.
According to press accounts, Sinai police in July 2003 had sought to
detain Soliman when he was transporting the Eastern European women
from south Sinai to Israel. Soliman opened fire on the police and
wounded one of them before he was detained.
According to a Cairo-based Russian diplomatic source (2005
information), in September 2002, three Moldovan women were abducted
from a hotel in Sharm el-Sheikh by Bedouin who raped them and
apparently tried to transport them to Israel. One of the victims
escaped and informed Egyptian police who successfully rescued the
other two victims and arrested the perpetrators. According to the
Russian, the perpetrators were eventually convicted and received
See section E of the Overview on Egyptian authorities'
investigations of cases with a trafficking element.
G. The Government does not currently provide specialized training in
how to recognize, investigate, or prosecute instances of
trafficking. The Government advises that instances of trafficking
rarely come to its attention, but has explicitly requested from the
U.S. any information that could identify such instances in Egypt.
The Government has accepted training, planned for April - May, 2008,
from the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children to
train prosecutors on combating sexual exploitation of children via
H. The Government is not currently known to be involved in
any international investigations of trafficking cases.
I. The Government is not known to have ever extradited persons
charged with trafficking to face prosecution in other countries.
However, in 2003 an Egyptian court convicted Moataz Attiya Mohammad
Hassan, a.k.a. Abu Qusay of manslaughter and aiding illegal
immigration for his role in the deaths of 353 persons trying to
reach Australia when their boat sank. In that case, the Government
requested the defendant's extradition from Indonesia, which was
J-K. There is no evidence of Government or government officials'
involvement in or tolerance of trafficking. However, the sale of
child brides, while illegal, has been reported in the local media
and is thought to be widespread.
L. There is no indication that Egyptian troops participating in
international peacekeeping missions have been involved in human
M. Although international media and anti-trafficking organizations
have reported that sex tourism exists in Egypt, there are no
reliable statistics on the phenomenon. We know of no prosecutions
or deportations of foreigners regarding sex tourism.
Protection and Assistance to Victims
A - I. The Government reported that its consular and immigration
officials, at home and abroad, have been instructed to be on the
alert for possible instances of illegal migration and fraudulent
travel, which would include trafficking. However, the Government
does not currently have any programs for victim assistance or
specialized training for personnel in identifying trafficking
victims. Government agencies that are involved in combating
trafficking are the border police, immigration, and customs
inspectors, overseen by the State Security Investigations Service
and ultimately by the Ministry of Interior. Officials responsible
for consular affairs or tourism can also become involved in
responding to suspected trafficking cases. The Government does not
currently make special provisions for victims' participation in
prosecutions or for protection of victims as witnesses, nor does it
provide specialized training in trafficking to government
The NCCM's new anti-trafficking unit is exploring how to provide
services to child victims of trafficking. The NCCM and Ministry of
Social Solidarity already run extensive services for street children
and child victims of abuse.
A. The Government acknowledged that some trafficking victims may
transit Egypt, but reports that it is not currently aware of
information that suggests a significant flow of such persons. In
January 2008, NCCM head Ambassador Moushira Khattab stated that
Egypt is "not in the red zone for child trafficking, and it neither
imports nor exports this phenomenon." In November 2007, the
Minister of Interior denied the existence of child trafficking in
Egypt, but confirmed that the Ministry is working on combating
illegal groups that work towards "corrupting and abusing children."
Terminology continues to cause confusion. Government officials will
often deny that "trafficking" exists, but when asked about specifics
will acknowledge that isolated cases occur, such as of temporary or
forced marriages. Even so, all say that trafficking is not a
systemic problem in Egypt.
B. In July 2007, state-owned television began airing public service
announcements on labor trafficking, free of charge. The
inter-ministerial committee is in the planning stages of a more
extensive public awareness campaign, to include mass media and "town
hall" type meetings.
C. Egyptian civil society is not focused on TIP, though at least one
Egyptian NGO has expressed interest in beginning to monitor and
document trafficking cases. Many civil society contacts tell us
that Egypt, where 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2
per day, simply faces more pressing social problems than
trafficking. Egyptian human rights and women's NGOs informed us
they are not aware of a significant trafficking problem in Egypt.
However, many NGOs, with the full support of the government, work on
children and women's protection. On human rights and related
matters, Egyptian civil society has a sometimes contentious
relationship with the GOE.
D. The Government devotes significant resources to patrolling and
policing its borders, particularly the Sinai desert border with
Israel. The Government does not currently have a specific program
to monitor migration and travel patterns for evidence of
trafficking, although it exerts robust efforts to combat illegal
migration and alien smuggling. In particular, since the October 7,
2004 terror bombings in Sinai, which killed 34 people, the
Government has made a concerted effort to increase security in
Sinai, especially with regard to alleged illegal activities by the
Sinai Bedouin tribes. In November 2006, for example, the Middle
East News Agency reported that government security forces were
engaged in a "massive crackdown operation in north Sinai" against
suspected terrorist and criminal elements.
E-F. The newly established inter-ministerial National Committee for
Combating and Preventing Trafficking in Persons, chaired by the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, coordinates between Egyptian government
agencies and is charged with drafting a national action plan.
Currently it is focused on arresting and prosecuting traffickers
under current laws, drafting new, comprehensive anti-TIP
legislation, and raising public awareness.
G. Egypt attends the annual meeting of the International Tourism
Organization task force on sex tourism, but we are aware of no other
actions to reduce the demand for commercial sex tourism.
I. Please see L under "Investigation and Prosecution."