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Cablegate: Costa Rica: Tip Update

VZCZCXYZ0020
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #0286/01 1082236
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 172236Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9601
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDG/AMEMBASSY SANTO DOMINGO PRIORITY 1590

UNCLAS SAN JOSE 000286

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR WHA/CEN RBEAL AND G/TIP BFLECK, G, INL, DRL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB KCRM KFRD KWMN PHUM PREF SMIG CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA: TIP UPDATE

REF: SAN JOSE 0194

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a meeting with ADCM and Poloffs on April
16, Vice Minister Duran painted a mixed picture of the GOCR's
anti-TIP efforts. She described new training initiatives for
law enforcement personnel, which might reach 500 officials
over the next year, and legislative initiatives which may
lead to new laws against domestic trafficking in persons and
protecting victims. Duran could not offer any new
information on specific TIP cases or investigations, but she
said she would push the prosecutor's office to dig deeper
into possible TIP aspects of the recent immigration case
involving 400 Dominican women, and to make available
information from the on-going investigation into a Chinese
TIP ring broken up in January 2007. Duran agreed that more
needed to be done, especially on TIP investigations and
prosecutions, adding that she had already raised TIP issues
with the new Minister of Public Security. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On April 16, ADCM and Poloffs met with Ana Duran, Vice
Minister of Security in Costa Rica and senior-most GoCR
official involved in trafficking issues, to stress the need
for Costa Rica to show tangible progress in TIP
investigations, prosecutions, and victims' assistance or risk
being downgraded in the 2008 TIP report. We reiterated our
earlier request for updated information and statistics to be
reported to Washington as the 2008 TIP report was nearing
completion. We noted that Costa Rica's anti-TIP efforts over
the past year could best be illustrated by tangible results.

3. (U) TRAINING: Duran responded by describing the GOCR's
anti-TIP education efforts for public security personnel,
which began earlier this year with trafficking
sensitivity/awareness training for 34 officers. She
envisioned similar training reaching 500 security officers,
prosecutors, investigators and other personnel within the law
enforcement community over the next 12 months. Duran
explained that law enforcement and judicial personnel needed
to learn to "discriminate" genuine TIP cases from others
involving immigration fraud or sex trade violations.
Unfortunately, all three elements sometimes combined in the
same cases. Before Costa Rica could better act against TIP,
enforcement personnel had to recognize the signs of TIP, she
added.

4. (U) LEGISLATION: Responding to our specific questions,
Duran said that the National Coalition Against Trafficking
(which she heads) is undertaking studies into two main areas
of concern. The first is possible new legislation to
incorporate domestic trafficking of persons into Costa Rica's
penal code in compliance with the UN Protocol definition. The
second is posible new legislation to protect and better
assist trafficking victims, perhaps as part of the omnibus
domestic security law now under debate in the National
Assembly. Duran noted that the witness protection elements in
the omnibus law might be copied and adopted for victims'
protection. She acknowledged, however, that no victims'
protection language had been added yet to the bill under
consideration.

5. (U) INVESTIGATIONS: Duran said the recent, well-publicized
investigation into 400 Dominicans involved in the sex trade
in Costa Rica was being handled as an immigration case and
not a TIP case. A few of the women involved may have been
trafficked, and minors may have been involved, however. She
said she would push the prosecutor's office to dig deeper
into the potential TIP aspects, but the investigation thus
far had not uncovered a major trafficking network, as
asserted by the media. On the January 2007 case involving a
Chinese trafficking ring, Duran said she woud push the local
prosecutor's office (fiscalia) to make available concrete,
updated information. (The case remains under investigation.)
Echoing what other GOCR officials told us as we prepared our
2008 TIP submission, Duran said that under-staffed,
under-funded (and over-worked) prosecutors remained a
challenge in dealing with TIP cases. Even with TIP training,
she had to rely on like-minded judges and prosecutors to make
the time for the training courses. A focus on TIP issues and
cases is not built into the justice system.

6. (U) NEW MINISTER, NEW FOCUS? We passed Duran a list of
actions that would help the GOCR improve its anti-TIP
efforts, including amending the relevant law(s) to conform to
UN protocols, intensifying efforts to identify and assist
victims, increasing assistance for victims, promptly
releasing TIP-related statistics and above all, increasing
prosecution enforcement. She agreed that everything on our
list should be done, and reiterated her interest in making
progress. She said she had already discussed TIP issues in
general with newly-appointed Minister of Public Security
Janina Del Vecchio (septel), and that Del Vecchio shared
Duran's interest in trafficking issues. After all, concluded
Duran, fighting trafficking and protecting trafficking
victims in fully consistent with Costa Rica's
long-established support for general human rights issues.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: The TIP story remains mixed in Costa Rica.
Duran seemed somewhat more committed and the GOCR's anti-TIP
efforts somewhat better organized since we met with her to
begin our TIP report preparation. She is correct in
describing the mixed trafficking/immigration/sex trade
elements in TIP-related cases here. She is also correct in
describing the prosecutorial problems in a nation where a
very small percentage of criminal cases are fully prosecuted,
let alone TIP, IPR or other non-criminal cases. Government
awareness and commitment is only part of the solution,
however, and Duran provided us context instead of specific
results. But, she at least accepts that the GOCR needs to do
more, and has taken the initiative to sensitize her new boss,
Del Vecchio, to that need.
BRENNAN

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