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Cablegate: Argentine Chamber of Deputies Passes New Tip Legislation

VZCZCXYZ0038
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0465 1011534
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101534Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0763
INFO RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000465

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KWMN SMIG KCRM ELAB AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES PASSES NEW TIP LEGISLATION

REF: A) BUENOS AIRES 344

B) BUENOS AIRES 438

1. (SBU) Summary: The Argentine Chamber of Deputies passed a bill
on April 9 that, for the first time, defines trafficking in persons
as a federal crime. While the new legislation represents a step in
the right direction, it has generated controversy among feminist and
human rights organizations primarily due to the condition that it
distinguishes between victims over and under the age of 18.
According to NGOs, the law falls short of Argentina's international
obligations under the Palermo Protocol, as trafficking victims over
the age of 18 would need to prove that they did not consent to their
trafficking and exploitation. Embassy is congratulating the GOA on
passage of this legislation, urging vigorous implementation, and
offering support and cooperation in combating TIP. End Summary.

2. (U) On April 9, a strong majority (157 to 35, with 6 abstentions)
in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies passed a bill that defines
trafficking in persons as a federal crime for the first time. This
legislation passed unanimously in the Senate in December 2006.
Launched by Minister of Justice, Anibal Fernandez, the law punishes
the "recruitment, transportation or relocation, and harboring or
receipt of persons for the purpose of sexual or labor exploitation
or the removal of organs." (See Ref A for Embassy reporting on the
current legislation).

3. (U) By defining sexual and labor exploitation as a federal crime,
the legislation more effectively prosecutes traffickers and
procurers. Under this new law, victims over the age of 18 must
prove that they were forced into slavery and did not consent to
their trafficking and exploitation. The law, however, would not
require minors to prove their lack of consent. The penalties for
human trafficking now range from 3 to 15 years in prison, with
traffickers of minors receiving longer sentences.

4. (U) The current legislation has generated controversy,
particularly among feminist and human rights associations, as it
distinguishes between victims under and over the age of 18.
According to NGOs, the law falls short of the international
obligations under the Palermo Protocol, which Argentina ratified in
2002. Many organizations oppose the legislation due to the
condition that victims over 18 years old would need to prove that
they did not consent to their exploitation. They claim that
trafficking contains no consent, only deception, coercion, and
violence.

5. (U) NGOs argue that the new law presumes victims can consent to
their own exploitation. Organizations such as the Institution
Against Discrimination and Xenophobia (INADI) and Red No a la Trata
note that they believe prostitution, which constitutes approximately
90% of trafficking cases, should always be considered a crime,
regardless of the consent of the victim. They argue that the
definition of trafficking should not include the issue of consent,
as it favors impunity for procurers and traffickers. Moreover, they
claim the bill is incomplete as it does little to convict the owners
of clandestine textile workshops and brothels, and omits an
assistance and aid program for the victims.

6. (U) Anti-TIP activists instead have rallied for legislation that
would more effectively condemn procurers and traffickers. (See Ref
B for Embassy reporting on demonstrations against the new
legislation). In accordance with the Palermo Protocol, the law
should not distinguish between victims under or over the age of 18
and presume that victims can consent to their own exploitation. It
would consider the trafficking of persons into prostitution or other
forms of slavery a crime, regardless of the age of the victim.
Activists argue that a law without this distinction would more
effectively protect the human rights of trafficking victims.

7. (SBU) Comment: While the legislation passed by the Argentine
Congress falls short of Palermo Protocol obligations, it marks an
important step in the right direction. The disappearance of Marita
Veron in April 2002, and the anti-TIP efforts of her mother, Susana
Trimarco, who received the State Department's 2007 International
Women of Courage Award, brought human trafficking into the public
eye. Since then, TIP is an issue that Argentines, on their own,
recognize as a serious concern. Despite its shortcomings, the new
law will place trafficking in persons under federal jurisdiction and
serve as a catalyst for launching other initiatives, such as the
GOA's TIP action plan that focuses on improved assistance for
trafficking victims. The Embassy is congratulating the GOA on
passage of this legislation, urging vigorous implementation, and
offering support and cooperation in combating TIP. End Comment.

WAYNE

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