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Cablegate: Arrest of Human Trafficker Renews Calls to Pass

VZCZCXRO4678
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHTO #0261 0860741
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260741Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY MAPUTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8711
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 6038
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0138

UNCLAS MAPUTO 000261

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR MSHIELDS
G/TIP FOR RYOUSEY

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM KWMN PHUM SMIG ELAB KFRD MZ
SUBJECT: ARREST OF HUMAN TRAFFICKER RENEWS CALLS TO PASS
ANTI-TRAFFICKING LAW

REF: 1) 08 Maputo 190 2) 07 Maputo 1293 3) 07 Maputo 1060

1. (U) SUMMARY. On March 20, Mozambique Television (TVM) ran an
extensive story on two teenaged Mozambican girls trafficked to South
Africa and forced into prostitution. The case is particularly
significant because it represents the first time that authorities
have apprehended a suspected trafficker of Mozambican citizens.
This is the third widely reported case involving trafficking in
persons since November (see reftels 1, 2), and its timing coincides
with the National Assembly's anticipated debate on the country's
first anti-trafficking in persons law during the current legislative
session (March-May). In recent months the embassy, in conjunction
with civil society groups, has effectively lobbied the government on
the need to pass a law, and the latest slew of cases has only
strengthened the cause. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) TVM's report revealed that the two girls were recruited in
January at a beach in Maputo City by a female known only as "Diana,"
and who authorities believe to be a Mozambican citizen. The girls
were lured by promises to study and work in South Africa, and Diana
facilitated their travel despite the fact that neither girl
possessed a passport. Diana transported the girls to a brothel in a
luxury condominium on the outskirts of Pretoria. The girls were
abused physically and forced to have sex with older men, as many as
ten times a day.

3. (U) After two months' living in such conditions, a Mozambican
lawyer living in Pretoria rescued the girls. The lawyer overheard a
conversation about teenaged Mozambican prostitutes and conducted a
private investigation, whereby he uncovered part of a powerful,
well-organized syndicate involving recruiters in Mozambique sending
a steady flow of young girls to South Africa and forcing them to
become prostitutes. According to the TVM report, Diana offered the
lawyer R2 million (USD 250 thousand) to keep quiet about the case,
but the lawyer took the case to the South African police, who
subsequently arrested Diana. The two Mozambican girls are being
held in a safe-house in South Africa.

4. (U) Within days of the TVM report, the Mozambican government sent
investigators from the Attorney General's office and the Criminal
Investigation Police to South Africa to assist South African police
in the investigation and discuss a possible extradition. Diana
likely will be tried in South Africa considering many of the crimes
occurred there, but Mozambican authorities are interested in trying
her for kidnapping and falsification of documents, among other
crimes.

5. (SBU) On March 24, several heads of committees in the Mozambican
National Assembly, including the influential Justice and Human
Rights Committee, invited two prominent Mozambican NGOs working on
trafficking issues to discuss the proposed anti-trafficking law.
One NGO representative told poloff that the recent trafficking cases
have demonstrated to the legislators without a doubt that
trafficking in persons is a serious problem in Mozambique. The
representative also noted that the head of the Justice and Human
Rights Committee stated his belief that the law would be approved
during this legislative session (see reftel 3).

6. (SBU) COMMENT: This is likely Mozambique's most high-profile
trafficking in persons case, and TVM's thorough investigative report
is a first for a country where trafficking in persons was scarcely
discussed a few years ago. It is also noteworthy that the National
Assembly personally invited NGO representatives to discuss the law
and concluded there is an urgent need to pass the law. These
developments demonstrate that USG efforts are beginning to pay
dividends. We have been an active player in raising awareness by
leading a bimonthly forum for civil society, government, and the
diplomatic corps to discuss trafficking issues. In addition, we
helped move the law forward by providing technical assistance in
drafting the law, lobbying the Minister of Justice to present the
draft to the Council of Ministers, and, in conjunction with civil
society, lobbying the head of the Justice and Human Rights Committee
and the head of the National Assembly to schedule the law on the
current legislative calendar. While there are no guarantees, these
actions along with the widespread reporting of trafficking-related
cases make it increasingly likely that the National Assembly will
debate and pass the anti-trafficking law during the current
legislative session, making Mozambique the first country in SADC to
have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. END COMMENT

AMANI

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