Cablegate: Egypt Criminalizes Trafficking of Children and Fgm


DE RUEHEG #1192/01 1621337
R 101337Z JUN 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: A. 2007 CAIRO 3031
B. CAIRO 410

Sensitive but unclassified, not for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: On June 7, Egypt's upper house of parliament
approved amendments to Egypt's Child Protection Law that criminalize
and stipulate severe punishments for trafficking of children and for
female genital mutilation (FGM). The new legislation represents
Egypt's first legal framework to specifically address trafficking in
persons (TIP). This, along with other efforts, shows the GOE's
increasing momentum to improve its anti-TIP posture, as well as its
increasing efforts against FGM. End summary.

Criminalizing Child Trafficking, FGM

2. (U) On June 7, the People's Assembly approved a series of
amendments to Egypt's Child Protection Law that contain a specific
statute criminalizing trafficking of children and laying out severe
punishments for such an offense. Specifically, a provision bans any
kind of "abuse, trafficking, sexual harassment, and commercial or
economic abuse of children." It mandates a punishment of at least
five years imprisonment and a fine of between LE 50,000 ($9260) and
LE 200,000 ($37,000) for anyone who "buys, sells, or offers a child
for sale" or anyone who "participates in transferring a child as a
slave for sexual or commercial exploitation."

3. (U) In a similarly unprecedented step, another provision
criminalizes the practice of FGM, except in cases of "medical
necessity," by between three months and two years imprisonment and a
fine of LE 1000 ($190) and LE 5000 ($950). Additionally, the legal
age of marriage for girls was raised from 16 to 18 (although another
law still permits "civil registration" before the age of 18). Also,
a provision for the first time allows the mother of a child whose
father is unknown to issue a birth certificate for the child under
her name, conferring upon these children all the benefits of
Egyptian citizenship.

4. (SBU) The amendments to the law been in the works for over a
year, and were developed with the full backing of First Lady Suzanne
Mubarak by the governmental NGO the National Center for Childhood
and Motherhood (NCCM), and in consultation with Embassy Cairo
Justice Attache and poloff regarding the TIP-specific provisions
(ref A). Aza El Ashmawy, the director of the NCCM's Trafficking in
Children unit, told us on June 9 that the NCCM is satisfied with the
anti-TIP provisions of the law as finally passed.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Opposition on Religious Grounds, Alleged U.S. Pressure
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. (U) The majority of MPs who opposed the amendments did so over
the statute banning FGM. Many in Egypt believe FGM to be a
religious duty; although rates are on the decline, the most recent
official statistics from Egypt's 2005 Demographic and Health Survey
indicated that the incidence of FGM among females aged 15 to 49 was
a staggering 96 percent. Some MPs also cited Islamic law in
objection to raising the marriage age - resulting in the compromise
where a separate law still allows "civil registration" under age 18
- and issuing a birth certificate to a child under other than the
father's name. The anti-TIP provisions received little opposition
from MPs.

6. (U) On June 9, MFA Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs
Naela Gabr publicly denied that the new child protection provisions
had been passed due to "American pressures." Although she did not
specifically mention it, this was perhaps a reference to the TIP
report released on June 4, which opposition newspaper Al Dustour
cited as the potential catalyst for the parliament moving so quickly
on the child protection amendments. Gabr also stated that the new
provisions do not conflict with Islamic law.

USG-Sponsored TIP Training Begins

7. (SBU) Separately, on June 8 the International Organization for
Migration funded by G/TIP began a three-week training course for
Egyptian police on trafficking in persons. The class will educate
23 Egyptian and two Jordanian security officials about the
phenomenon of trafficking and will discuss techniques to investigate
traffickers and protect victims in the context of international
migration. Additionally, from July 14 to 17 the International
Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in cooperation with the
USDOJ and Microsoft, will conduct a four day seminar for
approximately 50 public prosecutors on combating child pornography
on the Internet.


8. (SBU) These amendments provide Egypt with its first legal
framework that specifically tackles TIP, as well as its first law
criminalizing FGM. Taken in conjunction with other GOE-sponsored
efforts, including the international training efforts, NCCM training
on victim protection and services, draft comprehensive
anti-trafficking legislation, and a comprehensive study of the
trafficking situation in Egypt (ref B), the new legislation shows
that the GOE is actively working to improve its anti-TIP posture.
We will continue to encourage Egyptian police and prosecutors to
arrest and prosecute traffickers under this new framework, to pursue
and document pursuit of traffickers under existing law, and to move
forward on the other anti-TIP initiatives underway.


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