Cablegate: Afghanistan's 2008 Tip Questionnaire Response


DE RUEHBUL #0734/01 0840502
R 240502Z MAR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Is the country a country of origin, transit, and/or
destination for internationally trafficked men, women, or children?
Provide, where possible, numbers or estimates for each group; how
they were trafficked, to where, and for what purpose. Does the
trafficking occur within the country's borders? Does it occur in
territory outside of the government's control (e.g. in a civil war
situation)? Are any estimates or reliable numbers available as to
the extent or magnitude of the problem? What is (are) the
source(s) of available information on trafficking in persons or what
plans are in place (if any) to undertake documentation of
trafficking? How reliable are the numbers and these sources? Are
certain groups of persons more at risk of being trafficked (e.g.
women and children, boys versus girls, certain ethnic groups,
refugees, etc.)?

Afghanistan is a country of origin, transit, and destination for
trafficked children and women. According to the International
Organization on Migration (IOM), the Ministry of Labor and Social
Affairs (MLSA), and the Attorney General's office, as a country of
origin, Afghanistan serves as a source for children who are
trafficked into Iran, Pakistan, and Gulf countries such as Saudi
Arabia and Oman. As a transit country, Afghanistan is reported to
be used to send women and children from Tajikistan to Pakistan and
Iran, primarily for labor but also for sex; however, no statistics
exist. There were unconfirmed reports of Afghan women being
trafficked into Pakistan and Iran. In some cases, men were
trafficked into Iran for labor.

There were also undocumented reports of Afghanistan's being a
destination country for women being trafficked from China and Iran
(unconfirmed) for sex or from Pakistan as drug couriers. In 2006,
IOM conducted a program funded by PRM to assist 150 victims of
trafficking. Ninety-six of these victims were women who had been
trafficked to Afghanistan from China for sexual exploitation. In
2007, they found that it was difficult to reach out to these women
since they have gone further underground. Most were working in
Kabul at establishments purporting to be "Chinese restaurants" but
which effectively acted as brothels. IOM suggested that the women
voluntarily left China seeking work in another country but were not
told they would be sent to Afghanistan and were coerced to stay and
work as prostitutes upon their arrival. The Ministry of Interior,
however, believes most Chinese prostitutes come willingly and

Internal trafficking also remains an issue in Afghanistan, but no
statistics are available. Child labor and forced begging occurs in
Afghanistan's largest cities. Significant numbers of children are
rumored to be trafficked from provinces such as Baghlan into Kabul
for labor. A 2006 Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission
(AIHRC) report estimated that there were approximately 60,000 child
laborers in Kabul, most of whom migrated from other provinces to
work to help support their families. There were no reliable numbers
for 2007. There were scattered reports of young boys being
trafficked internally for sex, especially in the northern provinces
of Badakhshan, Baghlan, Balkh, Faryab, Jowzjan, Kunduz, Samangan,
Sar-e-pol, and Takhar. The MLSA has reports of 11 boys being
trafficked internally for sexual exploitation during 2007. These
boys were abducted and forced to work as dancers performing in front
of private parties of men. In the southern provinces along the
border with Pakistan, there were reports of powerful insurgent and
militia leaders abducting young boys or forcing families to turn
over their sons to be used as sexual objects.

Women and girls continued to be exchanged to settle debts or resolve
conflicts. The AIHRC received 34 reports nationwide of women or
girls being exchanged to settle family disputes in 2007. The AIHRC
did not receive any reports during 2008 of women and girls being
sold by their families for financial gain. In some rural areas,
underage girls were sometimes forced to marry much older men to
settle debts, or their families are forced by powerful local leaders
to give them away. If the girls were too young to consummate the
marriage, they could be used as household servants instead.

2. (SBU) Please provide a general overview of the trafficking
situation in the country and any changes since the last TIP Report
(e.g. changes in direction). (Other items to address may include:
What kind of conditions are the victims trafficked into? Which
populations are targeted by the traffickers? Who are the
traffickers/exploiters? Are they independent business people?
Small or family-based crime groups? Large international organized
crime syndicates? What methods are used to approach victims? (Are
they offered lucrative jobs, sold by their families, approached by
friends of friends, etc.?) What methods are used to move the
victims (e.g., are false documents being used?). Are employment,
travel, and tourism agencies or marriage brokers involved with or
fronting for traffickers or crime groups to traffic individuals?

There was no evidence of any major change to trafficking trends
since last year's report. Government officials are developing a
better understanding of the various types of trafficking. While
political will to address trafficking was more apparent in 2007, the
government lacked capacity to adequately handle the issue. During
the year, the Ministry of Interior established an office within the
Attorney General's office in each province to deal with trafficking
issues. These offices were not always adequately staffed, but
represent a commitment and a degree of progress. The government and
local NGOs were dependent on funding and training from international
donors to combat trafficking.

Little information existed on the conditions into which victims were
trafficked either internally or abroad, methods for transporting
them to other countries, or the average profile of traffickers.
Parents in poor, rural parts of Afghanistan often willingly sent
their children with traffickers in the hopes that the child can gain
employment and send money home. Poor agrarian provinces hard hit by
years of drought and war and which attract little international
assistance are understood to be a common source of trafficked

There continued to be unconfirmed reports of trafficking rings,
particularly in the northern provinces. Victims from the north are
allegedly trafficked to Pakistan through the border crossing point
of Torkham, in the Eastern border province of Nangarhar. Victims
from the South were trafficked into Pakistan via Afghanistan's
extremely porous border with the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar,
Khost, Paktika, and Zabul. Men, women and children trafficked into
Pakistan and Iran for labor were often trafficked through the
province of Nimroz in the southwest, due to the isolation and lack
of border control along that part of the Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan
border. The Islam Qala border checkpoint in Herat was another site
used for trafficking into Iran.

There continued to be rumors of child trafficking for organs, but no
one (including the Ministry of Interior) was able to produce any
evidence whatsoever to support the rumors.

3. (SBU) Which government agencies are involved in anti-trafficking
efforts and which agency, if any, has the lead?

Ministry of Interior has primary responsibility for reporting and
investigating cases and, in theory, has the most direct contact with
victims. The Attorney General's Office is responsible for keeping
statistics on prosecutions, and convictions. The Ministry of Labor
and Social Affairs plays an informal lead role in and effort to
create strategy to combat trafficking. The Ministry of Women's
Affairs addresses trafficking of women and female children through
policy and advocacy and, in February 2008, launched a
USAID-supported education and awareness building program for
communities, schools, shuras, and NGOs. The program will operate
through provincial level Departments of Women's Affairs in provinces
deemed most vulnerable.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for addressing
efforts against international trafficking. The Ministry of Justice
drafted a law that criminalizes trafficking, which is to be reviewed
by the Cabinet and introduced in Parliament in 2008. The Ministry
of Labor and Social Affairs receives the most international
assistance (funding and capacity building) for anti-trafficking
efforts, primarily from UNICEF, but this is only for child
trafficking issues. In 2007, this ministry developed a detailed
strategy to protect vulnerable children from trafficking and girls
from forced/early marriage through a variety of prevention
activities, especially at the sub-national level and in provinces of
greatest risk. The Ministry is now seeking funding from USAID to
establish a secretariat to manage and monitor its strategy.

4. (SBU) What are the limitations on the government's ability to
address this problem in practice? For example, is funding for
police or other institutions inadequate? Is overall corruption a
problem? Does the government lack the resources to aid victims?

The government recognizes the need to address trafficking and has
shown political will, but thirty years of war imposed on an already
poor and very traditional country are reflected in ministries and
civil institutions that are undeveloped and severely understaffed
and resourced even as they face a backlog of demands and
requirements. The government, which is combating an insurgency
which claimed the lives of over a thousand police officers in 2007,
lacks police to dedicate to counter-trafficking. There is no
consensus on which ministry should take the lead on the issue of
trafficking, and, as a result, there is inadequate coordination.

Funding to train police, judges, and prosecutors on identifying and
investigating trafficking cases remains inadequate to address the
need. Some elements of the border and highway police are understood
to be complicit in trafficking activities, although there were no
confirmed reports of this. The government has no capacity to assist
victims, though it supports assistance provided to trafficking
victims by international and national NGOs.

5. (SBU) To what extent does the government systematically monitor
its anti-trafficking efforts (on all fronts -- prosecution, victim
protection, and prevention) and periodically make available,
publicly or privately and directly or through regional/international
organizations, its assessments of these anti-trafficking efforts?

The government does not currently have the capacity to
systematically monitor its anti-trafficking efforts; however, with
the assistance of foreign embassies and INGOs, it is beginning to
build infrastructure. Various ministries have responsibility for
prosecution and prevention, but there was no coordination.


6. (SBU) Does the country have a law specifically prohibiting
trafficking in persons--both for sexual and non-sexual purposes
(e.g. forced labor)? If so, please specifically cite the name of
the law and its date of enactment and provide the exact language of
the law prohibiting TIP and all other law(s) used to prosecute TIP
cases. Does the law(s) cover both internal and external
(transnational) forms of trafficking? If not, under what other laws
can traffickers be prosecuted? For example, are there laws against
slavery or the exploitation of prostitution by means of force, fraud
or coercion? Are these other laws being used in trafficking cases?
Please provide a full inventory of trafficking laws, including
non-criminal statutes that allow for civil penalties against alleged
trafficking crimes, (e.g., civil forfeiture laws and laws against
illegal debt).

The Ministry of Justice, with the assistance of IOM, drafted an
anti-trafficking law in 2007. It is under review by the Cabinet and
will be sent to Parliament in 2008. Traffickers are currently
prosecuted under laws designed to address kidnapping.

The relevant laws criminalizing kidnapping are as follows. The
quality of translation is poor; however, they are from official
translations published in Afghan law books.

Penal Code

Article 356:
A person who takes away or hides a newborn baby from person who have
legal rights over him, or changes him with another infant, or
untruthfully relates him to some other than his mother, shall be
sentenced in the light of circumstances to medium imprisonment.

Article 418:
A person who, himself/herself or through another, kidnaps a child,
not yet seven years old, or someone who cannot look after himself,
or leaves at large one of the persons mentioned in an uninhabited
area, shall be sentenced.

Article 419:
If, as a result of commitment of the crimes specified under article
418 of this law, some organ of the child or the person (kidnapped)
is defected or lost, the offender shall be punished in accordance
with the provisions of deliberate laceration or if the child or
person (kidnapped) dies, the offender shall be punished in
accordance with the provisions of deliberate murder.

Article 420:
1. A person who, himself or through another, kidnaps, without
coercion or fraud, a child not yet eighteen years old, shall be
sentenced. 2. If the kidnapped child is a girl, the offender shall
be sentenced to long imprisonment, not exceeding ten years.

Article 421:
1. A person who, himself or through another, kidnaps without
coercion or fraud, a child not yet eighteen years old, shall be
sentenced. 2. If the kidnapped child is a girl, the offender shall
receive the maximum anticipated punishment of the above paragraph.

Article 423:
If the acts specified under article 420 and 421 of this law are
committed by a person who has influence or authority over the person
against whom the crime has been committed, or if the former is
charged with the responsibility of raising the latter, the offender
shall be sentenced.

Article 425:
A person who carries off a girl, who is sixteen years or over, at
her own will from her parents' residence for the purpose of lawfully
marrying her, shall not be deemed as having committed an act of

Article 515:

A person who holds as hostage another person through threat,
coercion or any other means, shall be sentenced to long

7. (SBU) What are the prescribed penalties for trafficking people
for sexual exploitation? What penalties were imposed for persons
convicted of sexual exploitation over the reporting period? Please
note the number of convicted sex traffickers who received suspended
sentences and the number who received only a fine as punishment.

No specific law has been defined for trafficking for sexual

8. (SBU) Punishment of Labor Trafficking Offenses: What are the
prescribed and imposed penalties for trafficking for labor
exploitation, such as forced or bonded labor and involuntary
servitude? Do the government's laws provide for criminal punishment
-- i.e. jail time -- for labor recruiters in labor source countries
who engage in recruitment of laborers using knowingly fraudulent or
deceptive offers that result in workers being trafficked in the
destination country? Are there laws in destination countries
punishing employers or labor agents in labor destination countries
who confiscate workers' passports or travel documents, switch
contracts without the worker's consent as a means to keep the worker
in a state of service, or withhold payment of salaries as means of
keeping the worker in a state of service? If law(s) prescribe
criminal punishments for these offenses, what are the actual
punishments imposed on persons convicted of these offenses? Please
note the number of convicted labor traffickers who received
suspended sentences and the number who received only a fine as

There were no laws providing for punishment of labor traffickers.
Article 49 of the Afghan constitution prohibits forced labor.

9. (SBU) What are the prescribed penalties for rape or forcible
sexual assault? How do they compare to the prescribed penalties for
crimes of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation?

Article 429 of the Penal Code addresses rape cases and sexual
assault cases. This article provides for no more than seven years
imprisonment in a rape case, unless aggravating circumstances exist.
It states: "(1) A person who through violence, threat, or deceit,
violates the chastity of another (whether male or female), or
initiates the act, shall be sentenced to long imprisonment, not
exceeding seven years. (2) In the case where the person against
whom the crime is committed is not eighteen years old, or the person
who commits the crime is one of the persons specified under the
paragraph 2 of article 427 of this law, the offender shall be
sentenced to long imprisonment, not exceeding ten years." The Koran
does not specifically mention a punishment for rape, but Shar'ia
law, which Afghanistan's laws draw from, historically has treated it
as a form of adultery punishable by stoning. In practice, female
rape victims are sometimes considered to have committed a crime
themselves and are sentenced accordingly. The penalty for sex
trafficking has not been defined.

10. (SBU) Is prostitution legalized or decriminalized?
Specifically, are the activities of the prostitute criminalized?
Are the activities of the brothel owner/operator, clients, pimps,
and enforcers criminalized? Are these laws enforced? If
prostitution is legal and regulated, what is the legal minimum age
for this activity? Note that in many countries with federalist
systems, prostitution laws may be under state or local jurisdiction
and may differ among jurisdictions.

Prostitution was illegal but existed. Under Shar'ia law,
prostitution was also considered a form of adultery and was
punishable by lashing for unmarried prostitutes and/or unmarried
clients of prostitutes. For clients and/or prostitutes who were
married, Shar'ia law stated the punishment was public death by
stoning. There have been no cases in which this punishment was
carried out according to the Attorney General's office. The Penal
Code did not specifically mention prostitution or punishment for
prostitution. Courts normally considered prostitution as a form of
adultery. Judges usually referred to Article 427, which says that,
"A person who commits adultery...shall be sentenced to long
imprisonment." The law does not provide specific sentencing
guidelines. Article 430 deals with the crime of "instigation to
debauchery" and provides a minimum three years imprisonment. The
available translation was imperfect, but Article 430 apparently
states that: (1) A person who instigates a male or female, not
eighteen years old to debauchery or a person who instigates another
to acquire a profession pertaining to debauchery, or assists another
in this respect, shall be sentenced to medium imprisonment, not less
than three years and; (2) if the person committing the crime is one
of the persons specified under the paragraph 2 of article 427 of
this law, or the act has been performed for the purpose of acquiring
benefit, the offender shall be sentenced to long imprisonment, not
exceeding ten years.

11. (SBU) Has the government prosecuted any
cases against humantrafficking offenders? If so, provide numbers
of investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences
and available. Please indicate which laws were used to investigate,
prosecute, convict, and sentence traffickers. Also, if possible, please

disaggregate by type of TIP (labor vs. commercial sexual exploitation)
and victims (children, as defined by U.S. and international law as
under 18 years of age, vs. adults). Does the government in a labor source

country criminally prosecute labor recruiters who recruit laborers
using knowingly fraudulent or deceptive offers or impose on
recruited laborers inappropriately high or illegal fees or
commissions that create a debt bondage condition for the laborer?
Does the government in a labor destination country criminally
prosecute employers or labor agents who confiscate workers'
passports/travel documents, switch contracts or terms of employment
without the worker's consent, use physical or sexual abuse or the
threat of such abuse to keep workers in a state of service, or
withhold payment of salaries as a means to keep workers in a state
of service? Are the traffickers serving the time sentenced? If
not, why not? Please indicate whether the government can provide
this information, and if not, why not?

There were 255 arrests for TIP-related offenses in 2007. 49 of the
arrests resulted in convictions. Sentences ranged from 5 to 12
years. The Attorney General's office was not able to provide
specifics on which types of trafficking cases were most commonly
prosecuted because they do not track such cases. Similarly, the
Attorney General's Office does not have data on the average length
of sentences and whether such sentences were carried out because it
does not track this information. In 2007, according to the Ministry
of Labor and Social Affairs, 6 children were repatriated from Saudi
Arabia; 2 children were repatriated from Pakistan, and 11 children
were internally trafficked for sexual exploitation. There were no
data available on labor traffickers or their victims, as the
government lacked the capacity to track the issue.

12. (SBU) Does the government provide any specialized training for
government officials in how to recognize, investigate, and prosecute
instances of trafficking? Specify whether NGOs, international
organizations, and/or the USG provide specialized training for host
government officials.

Working through IOM, the USG provided anti-trafficking training for
border police, the judiciary and Afghan National Police. During the
reporting period, 60 individuals received training. The government
itself does not have capacity to offer such training. When
conducted, such training is provided by international NGOs but not
with any consistency.

13. (SBU) Does the government cooperate with other governments in
the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases? If
possible, can post provide the number of cooperative international
investigations on trafficking during the reporting period?

In theory, the government cooperates with investigation and
prosecution, but there were no international investigations during
the year.

14. (SBU) Does the government extradite persons who are charged
with trafficking in other countries? If so, can post provide the
number of traffickers extradited during the reporting period? Does
the government extradite its own nationals charged with such
offenses? If not, is the government prohibited by law from
extraditing its own nationals? If so, what is the government doing
to modify its laws to permit the extradition of its own nationals?

There were no extraditions of traffickers. Afghanistan has no
extradition law, but Parliament is scheduled to consider one this

15. (SBU) Is there evidence of government involvement in or
tolerance of trafficking, on a local or institutional level? If so,
please explain in detail.

There were no reports of institutional involvement in trafficking by
the government. The Ministry of Interior stated that no police
officials have been arrested for involvement in trafficking. There
are unconfirmed reports of corrupt Afghan National Police and Afghan
Border Police officers being complicit in trafficking, but there was

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