Cablegate: Timor-Leste 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report Submission

DE RUEHDT #0067/01 0610331
O R 010331Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A


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1. (SBU) The following is Embassy Dili's submission in
preparation for the 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report. Please
note paragraph designations are keyed to reftel questions:




A. Timor-Leste is a destination country for trafficking victims.
Nearly all trafficking victims are women. It is difficult to
give a precise estimate of the number of trafficking victims as
there have been no recent comprehensive studies and the
government does not compile statistics on this issue. In 2004,
a local NGO conducted a baseline study of human trafficking and
the sex industry and estimated that as many as 115 of the
approximately 360 sex workers in the capital might be victims of
trafficking. Although there has been no recent study, reliable
sources estimated that the number of foreign trafficking victims
remained approximately the same. Several establishments in the
capital are known commercial sex operations suspected of being
involved in trafficking; following the increased presence of
internationals since 2006, several additional establishments
have reopened. There are indications that increased
vulnerability accompanying the long-term internal displacement
of thousands of East Timorese over the last year, widespread
poverty, and lack of understanding of human trafficking among
the populace, could contribute to Timor-Leste becoming a source
country. The sources for information on trafficking victims are
the offices of the Prosecutor General and Immigration, in
addition to two women's and children's rights NGOs. The numbers
and the sources are reliable. However, due to limitations in
their mechanisms to prevent and prosecute human trafficking,
more cases likely go unidentified. Women are at higher risk
from being trafficked into Timor-Leste from neighboring
countries in the region, as well as internally from throughout
the districts into Dili to work on the sex trade.

High transportation costs in and out of the country combined
with relatively high wages make Timor-Leste a comparatively
expensive source country, particularly when compared with
neighboring Indonesia. There were no known attempts to traffic
Timorese men, women, or children abroad this past year.

B. Although Embassy sources indicate that the decline in
internationals in Dili through early 2006 may have caused the
numbers of foreign trafficking victims to decrease, this trend
appears to have been reversed with the new influx of
internationals that accompanied the arrival of international
peacekeeping forces in May 2006, followed by the establishment
of a new UN mission in August 2006. Moreover, local NGOs and
international organizations have noted a continued increase in
domestic trafficking. Whereas initially it appeared that
domestic trafficking victims were taking the place of foreign
victims in some establishments as the international presence
decreased, observers now note that the new influx of
internationals since June 2006 raises the concern that both
external and internal trafficking may increase; however, it is
difficult to gauge any specific degree to which this is in fact
the case. International forces are subject to a "zero
tolerance" policy for participating and/or enabling trafficking,
to include procuring prostitutes. International forces
authorities conducted eight investigations for allegations of
impropriety by its members, with the results of these
investigations still pending. The age of the domestic
trafficking victims, cites as low as 12 in some cases, is also a
cause for concern. These victims, usually from extremely poor
families, are promised lucrative jobs or educational
opportunities in Dili. It appears that the domestic victims are
not subsequently held forcibly or through debt bondage, nor are
false documents being used. Neither are employment, travel, and
tourism agencies or marriage brokers involved with or fronting
for traffickers or crime groups to traffic individuals. Rather,
having become dependent on the money they earn for survival and
facing humiliation at home and an almost complete lack of
services for victims, they conclude that they have no

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alternative other than to continue. We have not yet seen
evidence of coercion or force being used to keep victims trapped
in prostitution but rather lack of education and social
pressures tend to keep victims in prostitution once they have
been lured through fraudulent practices. A widespread lack of
understanding that their treatment is forbidden by law also
contributes to victims' inability to take action. Trafficking
victims in Timor-Leste are mostly forced to work as sex workers.
There have been vague reports of incidents of labor
trafficking, particularly involving men, but none have been
verified and there is a lack of research into this possibility.

In November 2008, a group of 18 Timorese children were stopped
by Timor-Leste's immigration authorities at Dili's airport from
departing to Malaysia for what their sponsor, a local foundation
closely affiliated with orphanages, called a trip to study in
that country. The children's ages ranged from 7 to 17. The
group also included an additional eight Timorese over the age of
18. The Prosecutor General issued the order preventing their
departure on the grounds that the sponsoring foundation failed
to account for critical information, such as letters of parental
consent, the location of the schools, the names and addresses of
the minor's guardians in Malaysia, and an approximate date of
return upon completion of studies. The letters of parental
consent were critical because some children in Timor-Leste who
live in orphanages have living parents. The steps taken by the
Prosecutor General and the Timorese immigration authorities
demonstrate the Government of Timor-Leste's commitment to
strengthen their mechanisms to prevent the possible trafficking
of children. At present, the investigation launched by the
Prosecutor General and immigration authorities on this case
remains pending. This event pointed to the possibility of
Timor-Leste becoming a source country as well as the increased
vulnerability to such efforts resulting from poverty and the
displacement of large numbers of Dili residents over the last
year. In addition, local contacts and the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) are concerned that domestic
trafficking may have become more of a problem since 2006. In
several cases, Timorese victims are working as sex workers along
with foreign victims, but they are unable to confirm a trend.

C. The Government of Timor-Leste continued to rely on
international organizations and NGOs to raise awareness and
prevent trafficking in persons. The Trafficking Working Group is
chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and includes the
Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of
Social Solidarity, the Victims Protection Unit (VPU) of the
national police (PNTL), and the Office for the Promotion of
Gender Equality, in addition to international organizations and
NGOs. It did not meet for over a year after the political
crisis of 2006, however, it resumed meetings last August 2007
and held another meeting in February 2008. Of these, the
Ministry of Labor has been most active in anti-trafficking
efforts, although essentially on an ad hoc basis to provide
protection and assistance to victims. The Ministry of Justice
was responsible for drafting the new penal code, which defines
and punishes the crime of trafficking; however, the code remains
in limbo, awaiting action by the government, and the judicial
system continues to rely on the Indonesian penal code. At this
time the Immigration and Asylum Act of 2003 remains the only
applicable law for prosecuting TIP cases. The Ministry of the
Interior oversees the Immigration Police, Border Police and the
national police force, all of which theoretically have
significant logistical roles to play in the protection of

D. Both financial and human resources are major obstacles to the
government effectively monitoring the trafficking problem and
providing adequate protection to victims. There have also been
rumors that some police officers, possibly with higher level
collaboration, have protected brothels, but these reports remain
difficult to substantiate. The police are not well funded and
lack adequate training to identify and assist trafficking
victims. Due to its access to relatively large inflows of
petroleum revenues, the government has sufficient financial
resources available. However, the continued shortage of trained
civil servants and the fact that the scope of the trafficking
problem in Timor-Leste is relatively small when compared to
other challenges make it unlikely that substantial government
funds will be committed to providing assistance or protection

DILI 00000067 003.2 OF 008

for trafficking victims in the near future. The national
political and security crisis that commenced in April 2006, and
the remaining problems stemming from it, have only increased the
scope of problems faced by Timor-Leste, temporarily displaced
the priority given to anti-trafficking in persons (TIP) efforts.
The February 11, 2008 armed attacks against the President and
Prime Minister may continue to distract from the government's
ability to focus attention on this issue.

E. The government does not have specific anti-trafficking
efforts in place beyond basic legislation and the establishment
of a working group, however, it has made significant
improvements in working with NGOs to train police and civil
service staff in human trafficking awareness. The government
also does not collect or publish assessments or statistics of
anti-trafficking efforts by law enforcement officials. The
services provided by international organizations or NGOs are not
systematically monitored by the government, although they have
been discussed in the working group.




A. The Immigration and Asylum Act of 2003 criminalizes both
internal and external trafficking in persons for sexual
exploitation and trafficking for non-sexual purposes. The law
was written to reflect the norms established by the Protocol to
Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. There are
no other laws currently applicable in Timor-Leste that address
trafficking. The government has not taken steps toward
promulgating a comprehensive anti-TIP law based on the Bali
Process. However, immigration officials, with funding from IOM,
regularly attend meetings on the Bali Process. A new penal code
based largely on the Portuguese penal code was approved by the
Council of Ministers (cabinet) in late 2005. However, due to
unrelated concerns, the President at the time did not promulgate
it and the establishment of a Timorese penal code remains in
limbo. The articles in the 2005 draft that pertain to
trafficking conform largely to the norms established by the
Trafficking Protocol. Pending the promulgation of a penal code,
Timor-Leste's judicial system continues to rely on the
Indonesian penal code.

B. The penalties applied to traffickers do not vary depending
on the type of trafficking. The Immigration and Asylum Act
states that traffickers "shall be punished by imprisonment of
not more than 8 years or fewer than 3 years." The law does have
a special provision for minors. Those convicted of trafficking
a minor under 18 years of age, "shall be punished by
imprisonment of not more than 12 years or fewer than 5." There
were no convictions or cases persecuted for sexual exploitation
or human trafficking during the reporting period.

C. The criminalization of trafficking contained in the
Immigration and Asylum Act of 2003 applies to all forms of
trafficking, including for labor exploitation. There are no
separate laws addressing labor trafficking as a distinct
offense. There were no known or reported cases of labor
trafficking during the reporting period.

D. Under the Indonesian Penal Code, which is still in force,
rape carries a maximum penalty of 12 years imprisonment and is
thus more severe than the penalty for trafficking, (except
trafficking of minors).

E. Government regulations prohibit persons from organizing
prostitution; however, under the Court of Appeals'
interpretation of Indonesian laws, prostitution is not illegal.
Nonetheless in past years, there were reports of women being

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arrested for prostitution. That was not the case in this
reporting period. Foreign women allegedly involved in
prostitution during two law enforcement raids on two Dili bars
in January 2008 were detained for immigration violations. Local
authorities acknowledge the criminality of the activities of the
brothel owner/operator and pimps under provisions of the
Indonesian penal code. However, raids and arrests are
infrequent and there have to date been no prosecutions for such

F. The Prosecutor General has not prosecuted any cases against
human trafficking in this reporting period. The absence of a
witness protection system compounds this problem. However, it
took some steps to prevent human trafficking in the country. In
January 2, 2008, the United Nations Police forces (UNPOL) and
the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNYL) conducted a joint raid
at a Dili bar suspected of serving as a brothel. They arrested
32 suspects, most of them women from the People's Republic of
China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and some Timorese. On January 16,
the PNTL held a unilateral raid without prior planning or
coordination with UNPOL at another Dili bar, where they arrested
over 87 suspects. In both cases, the Timorese police detained
but released all suspects after 48 hours with the only charges
levied against them being immigration violations, since the
suspects entered the country on tourist visas or without visas.
Over 30 women were repatriated under "voluntary abandonment,"
while the remaining victims are still receiving assistance from
local NGOs, or remain in the country unaccounted for. The
Office of the Prosecutor General dismissed the case without any
indictments and no further action was taken due to the lack of
witnesses against the suspected human traffickers and bar
owners. The foreign suspects in the 2006 case in which Timorese
women were being targeted for travel to Syria as domestic
servants, but were intended to be forced into prostitution
overseas, was dropped by the Prosecutor General for lack of
evidence. However, there have been no reports of Timorese women
being recruited to work abroad under human trafficking schemes.
The high transportation costs in and out of the country combined
with relatively high wages make Timor-Leste a comparatively
expensive source country, particularly when compared with
neighboring Indonesia.

It should also be noted that 4000 criminal cases. The
government is in the process of retraining and recertifying
personnel throughout the system, from police to judges, and has
only a couple of dozen functioning judges and prosecutors. The
national police are still recovering from complete collapse in
2006 and are under the tutelage of the United Nations. The
Timorese police will only begin to acquire independent authority
over an incremental basis during the course of 2008.

G. The Deputy Prosecutor General attended a U.S. State
Department sponsored International Visitors Program in the fall
of 2007 which was focused on recognizing, investigating,
preventing, and prosecuting human trafficking. Upon returning
to the U.S., he promoted greater awareness of this issue through
an editorial on the evils of human trafficking and the rights of
victims, as well as through close cooperation with international
organizations and local NGOs who combat human trafficking.
While no specialized training is provided exclusively by the
government, it held several short training courses for
Dili-based police officers conducted by IOM in partnership with
the government. IOM in coordination with the Alola Foundation
implemented a comprehensive awareness program for officials and
police officers in this reporting period. In addition, the
government's Victims Protection Unit (VPU) received gender
protection training from these NGOs.

H. There were no reports of cases requiring cooperative
international investigations with foreign governments in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. However, on
December 5, 2007, the Indonesian police patrolling the border
between Indonesia and Timor-Leste in Belu district, East Nusa
Tenggara province (West Timor), detained eight Chinese teenage
girls who were believed to be victims of a human trafficking
operation that would have forced them into prostitution in Dili.
The women had Timorese tourist visas, but admitted under
questioning that they wanted to go to Dili to seek employment.

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The International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) was
informed of this case.

I. The government has never extradited a person charged with
trafficking in other countries. No country has ever made a
request for extradition from Timor-Leste. There were no reports
of human trafficking cases requiring extraditions during this
reporting period.

J. There is limited evidence of tolerance of trafficking by
border officials who are allegedly bribed to let victims enter
Timor-Leste. There are also reports that some police officers
in Dili have accepted bribes in exchange for allowing brothels
where potential trafficking victims are working to continue
operating. Some international and local NGOs have alleged
credibly that some members of the police frequent these

K. No investigations have been undertaken to explore these
claims of low-level government tolerance of trafficking.

L. Timor-Leste does not contribute troops to international
peacekeeping efforts, except for a National police member
assigned to peacekeeping operations in Bosnia.

M. Sex tourism is not currently known as a problem in
Timor-Leste. The country does not have child sexual abuse laws
with extraterritorial coverage at this time. However, the
Government of Timor-Leste has worked with local women's and
children's rights NGOs to raise public awareness on prevention
against human trafficking and child sex abuse. These campaigns
have included distribution of leaflets in Tetum, the local
language, throughout various communities, which included the
telephone numbers for the government's National Social Service
Division, the police, and three local and international NGOs.




A. The government does not provide temporary or permanent
residency status to foreign trafficking victims. Several
victims have been repatriated through the help of their
embassies or an international organization and were thus not
deported. Shelter and access to services is mostly provided by
NGOs and international organizations.

B. Timor-Leste does not fund or have victim care or victim
health care facilities. Despite these weaknesses, the Ministry
of Labor has shown a consistent willingness to help arrange
assistance and shelter for victims with international and local
NGOs when cases are brought to their attention and have made
safe houses available to victims. Overall, the lack of services
does not reflect a lack of political will to assist victims, but
rather a lack of human resources. In addition, there is
currently a lack of clear standard operating procedures (SOP)
for authorities to refer to when handling trafficking cases. At
present, only the Immigration Department of the Ministry of
Interior has an SOP for TIP cases. However, the Deputy
Prosecutor General wrote an extensive editorial on the evils of
human trafficking and the rights of victims which was printed on
Timor-Leste's largest newspaper in December 2007. He was also a
participant in the State Department's fall 2007 International
Visitors Program on combating human trafficking.

C. The government does not provide any funding to foreign or

DILI 00000067 006.2 OF 008

domestic NGOs for services to trafficking victims. This is not
specifically because of a lack of will, but because of emerging
priorities the government has had to deal with since the 2006
crisis and its lingering problems which remain unresolved. In
spite of this, the office of the Prosecutor General has reported
that they are aware of this problem and will seek future funding
to assist trafficking victims.

D. The government's law enforcement, immigration, and social
services personnel do not have a formal referral process system
of proactively identifying victims of trafficking among
high-risk persons with whom they come in contact (e.g., foreign
persons arrested for prostitution or immigration violations).
NGOs, international organizations, and the Ministry of Labor
have offered services to victims on an ad hoc basis upon being
informed of trafficking cases. Sources at IOM informed us that
the development of standard operating procedures for referrals
and other aspects of handling TIP victims continues to be a top
priority among the organizations working on this issue.

E. Although the laws of Timor-Leste do not penalize
prostitution, it is not a regulated trade.

F. The rights of trafficking victims are respected. In the
January 2 and January 16 raids against two Dili bars, the women
were charged for immigration violations due to working in the
country with a tourist visa, but were released within 24 hours
and referred to two local women's and children's rights NGO.
Some were repatriated under "voluntary departure."

G. There were no prosecutions for trafficking. The lack of a
witness protection system makes it difficult for victims to step
forward and serve as witnesses, which is essential for the
government to successfully prosecute such cases. However,
victims may file civil suits or seek legal action against
traffickers and they are not impeded access to such legal
redress. There are no other means for victims to seek

H. There are no formal forms of protection for victims and
witnesses. Nonetheless, the Ministry of Labor has provided safe
houses as well as basic supplies to victims identified in
cooperation with local NGOs on a case by case basis. These
supplies are meant to help the victims rebuild their lives and
rejoin the community, but typically fall short of what the
victims actually require.

I. The government does not provide specialized training on this
issue. However, IOM working with four ministries established a
migration research center which provides training that includes
anti TIP materials. A short training course has been organized
in previous years by IOM for members of the police force. A
significant expansion of such training was made possible during
this reporting period by a joint IOM/Alola Foundation project
which has been approved for funding by the State Department's
Global Fund for Trafficking. IOM reports that law enforcement
officials have, to date, responded positively to the idea of
such courses.

J. Local representatives of international organizations and NGOs
are not aware of any Timorese victims of trafficking in general
and certainly none who have returned to Timor-Leste. The quick
action by both the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of
Interior in 2006 to prevent an apparent international
trafficking scheme from successfully transporting young women
out of the country is a good sign. However, there has to date
been no test case to determine what, if any, assistance would be
provided to repatriate Timorese victims of TIP.

K. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the

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Ministry of Labor have provided safe houses as well as basic
supplies to victims identified in cooperation with local NGOs on
a case by case basis. These supplies are meant to help the
victims rebuild their lives and rejoin the community, but
typically fall short of what the victims actually require.
International organizations and NGOs did not receive any funding
from the government for victim assistance during this period.




A. The government acknowledges that trafficking victims are
present in Timor-Leste. In part because of the relatively low
incidence of trafficking compared to other more widespread
problems, the government has not devoted substantial resources
to analyzing the issue. The government is also greatly hindered
by lack of qualified staff overall and a general inability to
implement programs without international assistance; e.g., for
five consecutive years the government has been unable to fully
execute its budget, often by wide margins. International
organizations, diplomatic missions, and local NGOs play an
important role in bringing this issue to the government's
attention. Although there were no known cases of Timorese women
being lured for trafficking abroad during this reporting period,
the 2006 case in which an apparent international effort to
traffic Timorese women to Syria has made the government more
aware of the risks of Timor-Leste becoming a source country.
There has also been an increase in awareness of internally
displaced person (IDP) camps as potential targets for both
domestic and international trafficking. International
Organization for Migration (IOM), in coordination with the
government and other international organizations, has led focus
groups within the camps to educate camp populations about the
risks of TIP. The numbers of IDPs peaked at 150,000 in May
2006, of which approximately 80,000 were in Dili. By February
2008, the number of IDPs in the country was approximately
100,000, and in Dili the numbers estimated were 30,000 people in
about 58 camps.

B. There have been no exclusively government-run
anti-trafficking information or education campaigns conducted
during the reporting period. However, they have been conducted
in partnership with international and local NGOs. Over 600
police officers have been trained on identifying and combating
human trafficking through this partnership of institutions. In
addition, poster and leaflets campaigns against human
trafficking -targeted at assisting potential victims have been
distributed in Dili and through the districts reaching countless
citizens. These leaflets and posters provide emergency contact
telephone numbers for the police and NGOs. One poster campaign
prominently features high-level government officials with
handcuffs and arms extended calling against bondage, human
trafficking, and abuse.

C. The Trafficking Working Group serves as the medium for
exchange and collaboration among international organizations,
NGOs, and government. The group's mandate is to review current
trafficking cases and advise the government on appropriate
legislative actions. One of the working group's main future
goals is to establish clear standard operating procedures for
the handling of all TIP cases across the different agencies and
organizations involved. The group ceased to be active with the
onset of national crisis early 2006, but resumed meetings last
August 2007 with the inauguration of a new government. It held
a second meeting in Dili on February 20, 2008.

D. Government authorities do not monitor immigration and
emigration patterns for evidence of trafficking. Senior
immigration officials admit that border police and immigration
officials are often unable to distinguish between illegal
immigrants and trafficking victims.

DILI 00000067 008.2 OF 008

E. The government has a Trafficking Working Group but does not
have a public corruption task force, although it does have an
Inspector General who is charged with investigating allegations
of corruption against public officials. In addition, the
responsibilities of the independent Office of the Provedor for
Human Rights and Justice included anticorruption and the office
has the power to investigate cases and make recommendations to
the relevant authorities.

F. There is no national plan of action against human trafficking
plan at present. International organizations expect the current
Trafficking Working Group to develop a national plan of action
to combat human trafficking a top priority.

G. The government has not taken any steps to reduce the demand
for commercial sex acts. The two January 2 and January 16 bar
raids in Dili did not target prostitution in itself but rather
possible human trafficking (of which there was no proof) and
illegal immigration.

H. Timor-Leste is not included in the list of countries as part
of the new criteria to the TVPA's minimum standards by the 2005
TVPRA, and a response is not applicable.

I. Timor-Leste does not contribute over 100 troops for
international peacekeeping efforts, thus the government has not
had to adopt measures to ensure that its nationals deployed
abroad as part of a peacekeeping operation do not engage in or
facilitate severe forms of trafficking or exploit victims of
such trafficking.

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