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Cablegate: Recent Child Trafficking Incidents On Guinea's Northern

VZCZCXRO2222
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHRY #0220/01 1441324
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231324Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY CONAKRY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2558
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CONAKRY 000220

DEPT FOR G/TIP AND DRL
DOL FOR DIANTHA GARMS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12598: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL ASEC ML GV

SUBJECT: RECENT CHILD TRAFFICKING INCIDENTS ON GUINEA'S NORTHERN
BORDERS

REF: BAMAKO 000312

1. SUMMARY: (U) Local media reported two alleged child trafficking
incidents on Guinea's borders with Mali and Senegal. The first
incident involved 22 children being transported to Mali, and the
second, 11 children being transported to Senegal. In both cases,
Koranic teachers, also known as marabouts, were allegedly taking the
children for Koranic studies in neighboring countries. According to
Guinean authorities, the marabouts were transporting the children to
Mali and Senegal to be exploited into forced labor or begging on the
streets. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Information in this cable comes from the Conakry Judicial
Police and from two NGOs working to combat child trafficking in
Guinea, Save the Children and Sabou Guinea. The cases illustrate
the inherent challenges of investigating and prosecuting trafficking
cases when parents consent to have their child transported by
another adult.

---------------------------------
INCIDENT ON GUINEAN-MALIAN BORDER
---------------------------------

3. (U) This is a follow up to reftel, which highlighted the
prevalence of self-described marabouts who promise to provide a
Koranic education for children, but instead force the children to
work in fields or beg in the streets of Bamako. In March, Radio
France International (RFI) reported that five alleged traffickers
were arrested near the Malian-Guinean border for transporting 26
children, 22 of whom were from Guinean villages near Siguiri.
According to RFI, one of the alleged traffickers was a marabout who
was taking the children to Bamako for Koranic studies. The marabout
and his four accomplices were arrested by border police in Kita,
Mali when they could not provide legal documentation for the
children.

4. (U) Sabou Guinea, selected by Guinean authorities to return the
22 Guinean children to their villages, reported to the Embassy on
their involvement in this incident. Sabou Guinea said that Koranic
teacher Drama Malian and his four accomplices are being detained in
Kita pending trial by Malian authorities. Sabou Guinea reported that
on March 30, they accompanied the children to Santiguiya (9
children), Mankadjan (8 children) and Moussala (5 children) and
spoke to the parents of the alleged trafficking victims. The
parents reportedly admitted to entrusting their children to the
marabout and explained that it is a common practice in their
village. The parents added that other children had studied with
this marabout in Bamako and had returned safely to the village
afterward. In one of the villages, Sabou Guinea reported meeting
five alumni of the marabout, each testifying that they had a
positive educational experience.

-------------------------------------
INCIDENT ON GUINEAN-SENEGALESE BORDER
-------------------------------------

5. (U) Also in March, Guinee24 (an internet news site) reported that
a man was apprehended in Koundara on the Guinean-Senegalese border
with eleven children ranging in age from 4 to 12. According to the
article, the alleged trafficker, said to be a marabout, was
transporting the children to Saint Louins, Senegal for Koranic
studies. The children were from Sangaredi, a mining town in the west
of Guinea. Guinee24 reported that the alleged trafficker claimed the
children were entrusted to him, but he could not provide legal
documentation demonstrating parental consent.

6. (U) Save the Children has a project in Sangaredi, which is funded
by the U.S. Department of Labor, aimed at combating child
trafficking. Per Embassy requests, Save the Children
representatives met with the alleged trafficker, the eleven
children, the parents of the children and the local authorities.
Save the Children reported that the alleged trafficker had
permission from the parents to take the children to Senegal for
Koranic studies. According to the NGO, because the alleged
trafficker had parental consent, the Prefect in Sangaredi determined
this was not a case of child trafficking and therefore returned the
children to their parents, and released the alleged trafficker.

-----------------------------------------
GUINEAN AUTHORITY'S REACTION TO INCIDENTS
-----------------------------------------

7. (U) ASST POLOFF inquired about these incidents in a meeting with
Commissioner Bakary Camara from the Conakry Judicial Police. Mr.
Bakary commented on the Guinean-Malian border incident, confirming
that the marabout and his accomplices are in prison in Mali. Mr.

CONAKRY 00000220 002 OF 002


Bakary said that he was awaiting a report from the Malian
authorities to determine if further investigation is needed from the
Guinean authorities, in order to facilitate the trial in Mali. In
regards to the incident on the Guinean-Senegalese border, Mr. Bakary
confirmed that the children had been returned to their families in
Sangaredi and the alleged trafficker released by local authorities.


8. (U) Mr. Bakary said that local authorities are just beginning to
understand that children who are sent to Senegal and Mali for
Koranic studies are often subjected to forced labor or begging on
the streets. Mr. Bakary said that child trafficking is a major
problem on Guinea's northern borders and that he is convinced that
every child traveling to Mali and Senegal for Koranic studies is
being trafficked for exploitation. Mr. Bakary also expressed his
disappointment that the Prefect in Sangaredi released the alleged
trafficker without conducting a full investigation.

-------
COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) Guinean authorities are struggling with differentiating
child trafficking from kidnapping. The issue of parental consent
only further confuses the issue, making it difficult to prosecute
and investigate a trafficking incident. It is unclear whether these
examples represent actual trafficking cases, but they do illustrate
the challenges faced by NGOs and authorities working to combat
trafficking. Asst Poloff will travel to both the Guinean-Senegalese
and Guinean-Malian borders in the coming weeks to further
investigate child trafficking issues on Guinea's northern border.
END COMMENT.

CARTER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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