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Cablegate: Trafficking in Persons: Argentina Serious About

VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #0641/01 1352007
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 142007Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1029
INFO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUCNMER/MERCOSUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 000641

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

STATE FOR G-TIP AMBASSADOR MARK LAGON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB KCRM PHUM PREL SMIG KJUS ASEC AR
SUBJECT: TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS: ARGENTINA SERIOUS ABOUT
IMPLEMENTING NEW LAW

Ref: (A) BUENOS AIRES 0501; (B) BUENOS AIRES 0465;
(C) BUENOS AIRES 0438

1. (SBU) Summary: On the evening of May 7, Argentine Minister of
Justice and Security Anibal Fernandez told visiting ICE Assistant
Secretary Myers and Ambassador Wayne that he was serious about
implementing Argentina's new federal law against Trafficking in
Persons (TIP) and is very open to working with the USG both to
develop Argentine capacities and on specific cases. Fernandez said
he was convinced that vigorous implementation of the law will lead
people to conclude that criticism of the law over the issue of
consent by adults (reftels) is not well-founded. He invited ICE to
send an expert to a TIP seminar being organized by his Ministry in
June. We are hearing from independent sources that Fernandez is
stressing the law's importance to provincial law enforcement
officials. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Ambassador arranged for Justice and Security Minister
Anibal Fernandez to meet visiting ICE Assistant Secretary Julie
Myers the evening of May 7 to discuss implementation of Argentina's
new federal law against trafficking in persons. Fernandez's
Ministry will have primary executive branch responsibility for
implementing the country's first-ever federal TIP law. He said a
number of NGOs and others had raised questions about the new law
because of the language about adult consent in it. He said that his
reading of the law is that if there is evidence of trafficking,
consent is not an obstacle to prosecution. He said he believed
vigorous implementation of the law would demonstrate that the worry
over consent was not well-founded. Fernandez said that he saw four
main steps needed: 1) identify and organize the forces needed to
target traffickers (he said he plans to have this done in the next
few days); 2) begin to move against traffickers; 3) set up a
vigorous victims' assistance and protection program; and 4) start a
serious national publicity campaign to raise awareness against
trafficking.

3. (SBU) Fernandez said he believed there were a number of
instances where people are being forced to work in situations close
to slavery, and cited the practice of bringing in families from
Bolivia to Argentina to work under very bad conditions. He noted
that there were some areas in the northeast of Argentina and in
Paraguay where sex trafficking of fair-haired girls, especially
minors, was a serious problem. In these cases, it is necessary to
bring about changes in local culture/mentality, as well as taking
police and official actions. He noted a number of arrests several
weeks ago at a farm in Buenos Aires Province where workers including
minors were being forced to work under inhumane conditions. He said
a number of other criminal complaints were ready to go forward in
the weeks ahead.

4. (SBU) A/S Myers said that ICE might be able to help as this
process moved ahead and would be interested in cooperating on any
international trafficking uncovered. Fernandez said he would be very
open to this type of assistance and cooperation. He said he was
working to create a single intelligence office in the Ministry to
attack trafficking networks. Myers noted that we could work through
our ICE Attache to share information with this office. Fernandez
agreed and suggested that we hold a follow-up meet again with him to
set up the right channels. He noted that in one case recently, a
baby had been stolen from a hospital in Argentina shortly after
birth. He said his forces suspected it was tied to a specific
request to traffickers for a newborn, but in a worse case it could
have been a trafficking-in-organs case.

5. (SBU) Fernandez said he was organizing a seminar/conference on
TIP around June 11-12 and would welcome a U.S. expert/specialist (a
French expert's participation is already confirmed). Myers said she
would look into inviting someone. Fernandez said he had to deal
with serious corruption problems of local police in the northern and
northwestern provinces. He recounted several examples, including
the case of Argentine NGO leader Susana Trimarco's daughter, where
local prosecutors and police were tied to or bribed by traffickers.


6. (SBU) A/S Myers again said that ICE could cooperate with
Argentine authorities on international cases including child sex
cases and cooperation and communication could take place through law
enforcement channels. Fernandez agreed with that idea. Myers noted
the importance of public awareness campaigns and said ICE had some
experience in this area, too. Fernandez said public communications
were fundamental in stopping trafficking, and he hoped this would be
a theme to be treated at his June conference. He said he wants to
build a system whereby witnesses and victims could expose
traffickers and be fully protected. Myers noted that NGOs can help
in this area. Fernandez agreed and cited his experience working
with Susanna Trimarco. He noted that he had established a child

protection unit two years ago but it had not been nearly as
successful as he had hoped, in part, because of corruption of local
authorities given the huge profits involved in child sex schemes.
He said this was an area where he hoped to make clear progress.

7. (SBU) We are hearing from independent sources that Fernandez is
pushing enforcement of the TIP law. Cordoba Province Attorney
General Dario Randazzo (protect) told DCM that, at a meeting of
provincial prosecutors on May 13, Fernandez called the law's
existence to the group's attention and emphasized that its
enforcement was a government priority. He urged the prosecutors to
work with his Ministry to pursue these cases.

8. (U) A/S Myers did not have a chance to clear this cable.

WAYNE

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