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Cablegate: Vietnam Adoptions - Gvn Acknowledges Growing Problems And

VZCZCXRO8657
OO RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0132/01 0350948
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 040948Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7115
RUEPICA/USCIS WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4243
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 6180

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000132

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR CA/VO, CA/OCS/CI AND EAP/MLS
BANGKOK FOR USCIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CASC CMGT KOCI VM
SUBJECT: Vietnam Adoptions - GVN acknowledges growing problems and
lack of oversight

Ref: A) State 1834; B) Hanoi 117; C) Hanoi 106

1. (U) This is an action request. See para 11

2. (SBU) Summary: On February 1, the Ambassador met with Vice
Minister of Justice, Hoang The Lien, to deliver the dipnote
contained in ref A. The Ambassador also delivered a letter to the
Minister of Justice requesting a legal opinion on the processing of
pipeline cases under Vietnamese Decree 68 should a new MOA not be in
place by September 1. In addition, the Ambassador expressed his
concerns about the quality of Vietnamese adoption documents,
provincial officials blocking consular investigations, and pressure
put on women to relinquish their children (Ref B). Lien responded
that Vietnam accepted the U.S. decision not to renew the MOA, and
expressed his concern about the effects of large, unregulated, and
illegal cash payments that U.S. Adoption Service Providers were
giving to orphanages and local officials. Later in the day, ConOff
meet with DIA director Vu Duc Long to discuss the issues above in
greater detail. Long stated that local officials had a duty to
block consular investigations, unless the visits were approved in
advance and the officers were escorted by GVN officials. He further
stated that DIA only conducts a paper review of adoption files, and
has never found a document containing fraudulent information since
it was established. End Summary.

3. (SBU) On February 1, the Ambassador met with Vice Minister of
Justice, Hoang The Lien, to deliver the dipnote contained in ref A.
The Ambassador also delivered a letter to the Minister of Justice
requesting a legal opinion on the processing of pipeline cases under
Vietnamese Decree 68 should a new MOA not be in place by September
1. The Ambassador noted that it was important to give adopting
parents accurate information as soon as possible. The Ambassador
also expressed his concerns about the quality of Vietnamese adoption
documents, provincial officials blocking consular investigations,
and pressure put on Vietnamese citizens to recant statements given
to Consular Officers if those statements are cited in a Notice of
Intent to Deny. In particular, he cited his concern over birth
mothers who were summoned to Hanoi at their own expense after they
told ConOffs that they had not released their children for
international adoption.

4. (SBU) Lien responded that Vietnam accepted the U.S. decision, and
that Vietnam would give a formal reply after they had time to review
the note and the letter. He said that the Ministry is sending teams
to inspect the adoption process and they had found areas for
improvement. He was particularly concerned about the effects of
large, unregulated, and illegal cash payments that U.S. Adoption
Service Providers (ASPs) are giving to orphanages and local
officials. Lien stated that the problem is complicated by the fact
that GVN does not have the authority to regulate donations to
orphanages and local governments. However, given the clear
corrupting effect of these donations, the GVN is looking for
solutions. In regard to consular investigations, Lien stated that
he understood that U.S. Consular officers had to do their duty, but
that it would be better if the Embassy could work in cooperation
with local authorities. Lien stated that he would review the case
cited by the Ambassador and would take action if there was any wrong
doing.

5. (SBU) At this point, Dr. Long added that while he had requested
the birth mothers come to Hanoi, DIA had not required them to pay
for the trip. He stated that the ASP had been told to bring the
women to Hanoi for the interview. Long noted that he had invited
the Embassy to attend the meeting with the birthmothers, and the
Embassy had declined to attend. Finally, he noted that the Embassy
could not have a significant concern about these cases as immigrant
visas had been issued to the children. The Ambassador reiterated
U.S. concerns over the cases and replied that Long and ConOff could
discuss these issues in detail during our afternoon meeting.

6. (SBU) ConOff met with Long a few hours latter. ConOff began by
noting that Consular investigations had been blocked in several
provinces and that if we were not able to complete investigations,
we would not be able to issue visas to cases from these provinces.
Long replied that the only way to ensure that there were not
difficulties with consular investigations was for us to request
permission in advance, allow local officials to schedule our
meetings, and to be accompanied by local and DIA officials
throughout the trip. Long added that provincial authorities were
just doing their duty under the law when they blocked consular
investigations. When ConOff asked which law was involved, Long
acknowledged that there was no law against such trips, but that
officials could block them to "preserve public order." Long stated
that even DIA did not have the right to visit a province or meet
with officials or private citizens with out permission from
provincial authorities. He noted that meeting requests from DIA had

HANOI 00000132 002 OF 002


been denied in the past.

7. (SBU) ConOff then asked Dr. Long about what procedures DIA takes
to ensure the accuracy of documents submitted as part of an adoption
dossier. Long stated that DIA trusts local officials do to a good
job in preparing adoption related documents. As a result, DIA's
only role is to make sure that the documents have the proper stamps
and make sure that the facts within the documents support the
classification under the law. As an example, Long said sometimes
there is a request to classify a child as special needs, but the
medical test is not recent enough to classify the child. In such a
case, the file would be returned to the province for a new test.
When asked by ConOff, whether DIA had ever found any fraud in any
document submitted to it by any province or agency, Long replied
that it had not. He reiterated that adoptions must be built on
trust and verifying documents showed a lack of trust. ConOff
replied that, on the contrary, verification was a good way to build
trust.

8. (SBU) Long then reiterated his complaint that the Embassy is not
working with DIA to ensure cases are processed smoothly. As an
example he cited the Embassy's refusal to send a consular officer to
observe his interview with the Muong birth mothers. ConOff reminded
Long that the Embassy had asked that the interviews be held in a
neutral place, with USCIS in attendance and with the prior consent
of the birth mothers. The Embassy respectfully declined to
participate when Long rejected this approach. ConOff then asked
Long why DIA did not arrange the women's transportation to Hanoi.
Long replied that DIA lacks funds to travel or to bring people to
Hanoi for interviews. As a result, it is a normal practice to ask
ASPs to make arrangements on DIA's behalf. (Note: It seems clear
that Long did request the ASP to make the arrangements. However, it
is also clear that either the ASP or their agent, Ms. The, made the
birth mothers pay for their transportation. At the very least, DIA
should have verified who paid for the travel. End note.)

9. (SBU) Comment: While it remains to be seen how the GVN will
process pipeline cases, the meeting with the Vice Minister
reinforced post's view that senior levels of the GVN are becoming
concerned with the growing irregularities in the adoption process.
Lien's frank admission regarding illegal cash payments from ASPs is
a positive step. However, it also seems clear that for the moment
the central government lacks the authority or the will to address
this problem. At the same time, Lien was genuinely shocked to hear
of the treatment of the Muong women, and post believes that he can
be a significant player in moving the GVN to a new and better
adoption law.

10. (SBU) By contrast, the meeting with Dr. Long was tense and
highlighted DIA's displeasure that the Embassy is causing them to
lose face by revealing the problems in the adoption system. Whether
due to corruption or a lack of authority, it is clear that DIA is
incapable of regulating adoptions in Vietnam. The admissions that
they can not conduct independent enquiries and that they trust all
documents they receive are particularly telling. Long continually
push ConOff to trust DIA and stop verifications, something we
obviously cannot do. End Comment

11. (SBU) Action request: Given that DIA has acknowledged that it
does not independently verify adoption related documents, and given
that they can not cite a case where they have found fraud in a
document, post does not believe that DIA can improve the quality and
integrity of adoption documents in Vietnam. Given that post
verifications have shown that orphanage and provincial officials
throughout Vietnam either rubber stamp documents that they know
contain false information, or actively help create fraudulent
stories to conceal adoption related information, post believes that
it is necessary to make the addition to the reciprocity schedule
regarding Vietnamese adoption related documents proposed in ref C.
Post appreciates the Department's clearance and assistance in making
this change. End action request.

MICHALAK

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