Cablegate: Niger Gsp Petition: Interim Demarche


DE RUEHNM #0231/01 0560851
P 250851Z FEB 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. (A) STATE 10106 (B) 07 NIAMEY 1427 (C) 07 NIAMEY
B. (D) 07 NIAMEY 1239 (E) 07 NIAMEY 727

Demarche delivered

1. (SBU) DCM on February 20 made ref A demarche with Labor
Ministry Secretary General Assane Harouna, National
Commission against Forced Labor and Discrimination director
Issa Dan Azoumi and the head of the Labor Ministry's child
labor division, Dounama Abdou. They noted that the slavery
study was in progress; a team was doing research outside of
Niamey February 12 -26. There were actually two child labor
studies being conducted, one by the National Statistics
Institute and one by the National Commission on Human Rights
and Fundamental Liberties (CNDHLF) National Commission on
Forced Labor and Discrimination. The Labor Ministry
officials said they would provide details on relevant
activities in writing.

2. (SBU) DCM on February 13 made ref A demarche with Justice
Ministry Secretary General Maazou Adamou Seydou. Seydou
expressed strong interest in the issues raised, but said that
most of those issues (e.g. forced and child labor) fall under
the purview of the Labor Ministry. The exception was
trafficking in persons (TIP), for which Justice had the lead.
He reviewed recent efforts to combat trafficking in persons,
notably a December 2007 program held in conjunction with the
UN Office on Crime and Drugs (UNODC). The program trained 15
magistrates, gendarmes and police so that they could in turn
train their counterparts on combating trafficking and taking
care of victims of trafficking. He said the draft TIP law
was undergoing final review in the Prime Minster's office
before being submitted to the Council of Ministers for
approval. Seydou hoped that the Council of Ministers would
approve the law in time for it to be considered during the
next session of the National Assembly, which begins in March.

3. (SBU) Econoff on February 13 made ref A demarche with the
Director for the Protection of Children in the Ministry for
the Promotion of Women and the Protection of Children,
Souleymane Issoufou. Issoufou noted that Niger has been
working hard to implement procedures to eliminate child labor
and child trafficking in Niger. He reminded Econoff that
Niger is a poor country where some forms of child labor
unfortunately do occur, but where the worst forms of child
labor and child trafficking are rare. In reviewing ref A,s
suggested complementary steps he agreed that it was important
to raise public awareness about practices, penalties, and
laws to combat child labor and child trafficking. To that
end, he said that the Ministry is trying to use public
awareness to reduce the number of children who are brought to
the capital under the tutelage of marabouts for the purpose
of begging. Issoufou noted that he and the Minister had met
with the USDOL team that visited in November and had provided
all of the materials they had requested. He stated that he
would be happy to provide further assistance as needed.
Issoufou agreed that it was important for research to
distinguish between various types of slavery; however, he
noted that the study cited in ref A was not being carried out
by his Ministry. With regard to trafficking in children,
Issoufou stated that Niger has the strictest adoption laws in
Africa in order to protect children and to avoid the kind of
exploitation that happened in the recent "Arche de Zoe"
affair in Chad. Issoufou reminded Econoff (who is also
Conoff) that Niger recently began requiring all children who
travel abroad in the company of an adult who is not their
parent to have authorization from the police department. He
said that the procedure to get this authorization is rigorous
and requires a thorough investigation of the parents and of
any adults accompanying the child. Issoufou made it clear
that, although work in the area of protecting children
remains, he feels that there has been much progress.

Summary of Recent Labor Developments

4. (U) In January 2008, the Ministry of Labor organized a
capacity-building training session on ILO Conventions 138 and
182 for labor inspectors and judges. The training was
conducted by ILO experts.

5. (U) In December, UNODC supported the Ministry of Justice
in a train-the-trainer session for security forces and judges
on trafficking in persons. The training focused on victim
protection, witness protection, special investigation
techniques, and international cooperation. The Ministry of
Justice has approved the integration of the module for this
training in the curricula of law enforcement schools, ie. the
FNIS (a paramilitary force under the Interior Ministry),
Police, Gendarmerie, and Customs.

6. (U) In November, the Ministry of Justice transmitted the
draft TIP law to the cabinet council under the Prime Minister
for review before its submission to the Council of Ministers
and to the National Assembly for adoption during the upcoming
session starting in March. At year's end, the draft was at
the Prime Minister's office.

7. (U) On November 8, the National Commission on Human Rights
and Fundamental Liberties (CNDHLF) established a national
coordination committee to conduct a study on forced labor,
child labor and other forms of slavery practices funded by
the government. The study is aimed at identifying the causes
of these phenomena in order to propose appropriate solutions
to eliminate them. The study will last six months. The
documentation stage of the study has been completed. A field
survey is under way (February 12-26). Findings will be
presented in June.

8. (U) During the year, the Ministry of Labor has initiated a
National Survey on Child Labor in Niger (ENTE), to be led by
the National Statistics Institute (INS). The national survey
aims to generate data on children's activities (including
education and economic and non-economic activities) and
create a database of both quantitative and qualitative data
on child labor in Niger.

9. (U) During the year, a tripartite committee (government,
employers and labor unions) held several meetings to review
the 1967 labor decree on the regulatory part of the Labor
Code, which includes a proposed list of the worst forms of
child labor. Based on the tripartite committee's work, the
government will promulgate a decree that lists the worst
forms of child labor.

10. (U) On November 3-4, Timidria held a workshop to solicit
the support of religious leaders regarding a campaign to
sensitize the population on the issue of slavery and forced
labor. The Government of Niger's Minister of Religious
Affairs remarks at the workshop emphasized the government's
desire to end slavery (ref C).

11. (U) On October 27-28, the anti-slavery NGO Timidria
organized a national workshop on slavery to educate 60 civil
society participants on strategies to eradicate slavery and
discrimination in Niger. The workshop focused on the
effective implementation of the 2003 anti-slavery law and the
civil society's contribution in the fight against slavery.
The Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice,
representing the government, made a keynote address in which
he reiterated the GON,s commitment to international basic
human rights and its resolve to combat slavery. He reminded
the audience that the government had funded a study to
determine the extent of forced labor, child labor and
discrimination in the country.

12. (U) On October 3-4, the Ministry of Labor, in conjunction
with the ILO/IPEC, held a national workshop to design and
establish a child labor monitoring system (SOSTEN). The
workshop was aimed at: defining a conceptual framework for
the child labor monitoring system and proposing an
application for Niger; presenting SOSTEN experiences in the
sub-region; identifying possible mechanisms for the
rehabilitation of at-risk children or victims of child labor;
and establishing a SOSTEN database and training its users.

13 (U) On September 27-28, the Ministry of Labor organized a
workshop to: approve the conclusions and recommendations of
an institutional study on the National Steering Committee on
Child Labor (CDN) and the MOL Child Labor Division; approve
the guidelines for the implementation and the recommendations
of the sub-regional workshop on National Child Labor
Divisions Capacity Building held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
on June 26-29, 2007; review, amend and approve an action plan
to strengthen the technical and operational capacities of the
National Child Labor Division; create regional steering
committees on child labor; and approve the National Steering
Committee's action plan.

14. (U) In May 2007, under the US DOL program on the
prevention and elimination of child labor in mining in West
Africa, the ILO/IPEC funded two public
education/sensitization projects. The first project aims at
combating child labor in traditional gold mines through
literacy and sensitization for 100 women miners, and the
socio-professional reinsertion of 100 girls between 14 and 17
years old at the Komabangou gold mine. AFETEN (Action en
Faveur de l,Elimination du Travail des Enfants au Niger), a
local NGO, is implementing the project. The second project
supports the fight against child labor through sensitization,
sports and civic education for 1,118 children aged 7 to 17 at
the Komabangou gold mining site. The project is being
implemented by Action-Education, a local NGO. The National
Steering Committee on Child Labor (CDN) led by the Ministry
of Labor approved both projects on May 9.

15. (U) In May 2007, ILO/IPEC launched, under the US DOL
program, two vocational training programs for children. The
first project aims at rescuing 680 children and supporting
100 family members of child miners at the M,Banga mining
site. ALTEN (Association pour la Lutte contre le Travail des
Enfants au Niger), a local NGO, is implementing the project.
The second project will work toward combating child labor by
mobilizing community organization to help with the
socio-professional training of 100 child workers at M,Banga
gold mining site. This project is being implemented by EPAD
(Ecole-Parrainage et Action de Developpement). The National
Committee on Child Labor (CDN) led by the Ministry of Labor
approved both projects on May 9.

16. (U) UNODC will conduct a research on TIP in Niger in
order to assess the judicial system,s response to TIP cases.
A case study will be conducted in six regions (Agadez,
Dosso, Maradi, Niamey, Tillabery, and Zinder) and will focus
on a) domestic labor; b) Libya and Algeria migration patterns
associated with TIP; and, c) international arranged
marriages; and d) drug smuggling. UNODC will use the
US-funded ANDDH study on TIP.


17. (U) As outlined above, the Nigererien government is
working to enhance workers' rights, particularly regarding
forced and child labor. Its resources are, however, severely
limited, and many of the problems arise from longstanding
traditional practices that cannot be easily reversed. Some
GON actions were delayed in 2007 by the rebellion in the
north that began in February, cabinet reshuffles in March and
June, and a major reshuffle within the judiciary in September.

18. (U) Post's ability to engage the GON on labor issues and
to report on labor developments was severely degraded with
the loss of its political officer position in May 2007.
Without a political officer, post can prepare required
reports such as the Human Rights Report and the Trafficking
in Persons report, but it will be hard pressed to provide
even occasional spot reports on labor developments,
particularly outside of Niamey. It will not be able to
provide the kinds of labor advocacy or in-depth reporting on
issues such as slavery, forced labor and child labor that it
has in the past.

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