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Cablegate: Vietnam: Forced and Child Labor in the Production of Goods

VZCZCXRO8598
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0643/01 1540948
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 020948Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7922
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4788
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000643

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND DRIL/ILCSR FOR MMITTELHAUSER
G/TIP FOR SSTEINER
STATE PASS USDOL FOR RRIGBY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB ECON POL EIND ETRD PHUM SOCI VM
SUBJECT: VIETNAM: FORCED AND CHILD LABOR IN THE PRODUCTION OF GOODS

REF: STATE 043120

1. Summary: Forced and child labor (as defined by the Trafficking
Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2005) is not generally
used to produce goods in Vietnam. While there is some evidence that
abuses do sometimes occur, they are neither widespread nor
systematic. Indeed, much of the information for this report was
collected as part of GVN efforts to identify and eradicate child
labor. In large-scale factory settings, child labor is virtually
nonexistent, occurring only when minors successfully misrepresent
their age to obtain employment. The use of child labor in family
enterprises and in the agricultural sector does occur, although the
numbers of incidents is small and local authorities are focusing on
programs to end this abuse. Forced labor by convicted prisoners and
drug users in cashew processing is acknowledged by Government of
Vietnam (GVN) officials and is considered part of the rehabilitation
process. The practice is not widespread, however, and represents an
insignificant portion (less than 0.3 percent) of Vietnam's cashew
industry. End Summary.

Note Data Sources
-----------------

2. Two major GVN efforts to identify and eradicate child labor are
currently underway. A four-year (2008-2012) program spearheaded by
the Office of Government (which occupies a position within the GVN
somewhat analogous to the White House in the American government) is
currently in the initial information-gathering stage, after which
the survey data will be analyzed and child labor eradication efforts
developed and launched. Another four-year (2006-2010) program
funded by the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs
(MOLISA) aims to alleviate child labor in three of the country's
largest urban areas, Hanoi, Haiphong, and HCMC. Program components
include vocational training for homeless children, micro-credits and
educational assistance for parents of children involved in or at
risk of child labor, and education regarding causes and harmful
effects of child labor for likely employers of children. The GVN
made data collected for these programs available to ConGen HCMC for
the preparation of this report. While not exactly applicable to the
specific requirements of this report since not all data was broken
down by specific product, the overall rate of child labor was found
to be approximately 1 in 5,000. Since the data collection effort,
targeted programs have been implemented to eradicate child labor so
the rate may now be lower.

CASHEWS
-------

3. SOURCE AND TYPE OF EXPLOITATION: Vietnamese government officials
in 2007 confirmed NGO reports that a small number of prisoners,
incarcerated in accordance with the Vietnamese criminal code, are
subject to forced labor, including under contracts with private
firms, to process cashews. This includes persons confined in
Vietnam's 84 drug rehabilitation centers (known as "06 centers").

4. NARRATIVE: A small number of prisoners are contracted out to
family-run, small-scale cashew operations as part of the Vietnamese
justice system's mandate to "rehabilitate" prisoners, including
through labor. GVN officials stress that proper protective
equipment is used. Residents of Vietnam's "06" drug rehabilitation
centers are required to participate in drug education classes and
social labor. Residents do receive a small salary for their work,
however part of the money is then returned to the center to support
the costs of the rehabilitation program. Large cashew exporting
companies said they do not use prison or "06" camp resident labor
for many reasons, including a need to strictly control the
production chain to ensure consistent quality and because they do
not trust forced labor to meet high quality standards.

5. INCIDENCE: Vietnamese government officials stated in 2007 that
prisoners worked approximately 1,000 hectares of cashew plantations.
Since Vietnam's total cashew acreage is currently between 350,000
and 400,000 hectares, the area cultivated by prisoners is equal to
0.3% of the total.

CANDY AND INCENSE
-----------------

6. SOURCE AND TYPE OF EXPLOITATION: Ho Chi Minh City officials
stated in May 2008 that in September 2006, as part of an on-going
effort to combat child labor, they compiled statistics on child
labor from 21 of the city's 24 districts. These data indicated that
approximately 600 children worked in family homes making candy and
incense.

7. NARRATIVE: Officials believe that all of the children worked in
non-hazardous conditions. The two areas where they did find child
labor were in the home-based production of candy and incense. The

HANOI 00000643 002 OF 002


purpose of the data collection effort was to identify and eradicate
child labor, an ongoing priority for the city. A similar program is
now getting underway nationwide. While it is not yet possible to
generalize from Ho Chi Minh City to the entire country, as the
country's largest and most densely populated city as well as its
industrial heartland, child labor in other cities is probably no
more common.

8. INCIDENCE: The fact that the study found 600 cases of child labor
among the approximately 2,500,000 residents of the city who are aged
15 or under indicates that the incidence of child labor in family
home-based industries is 0.02 percent of the population, or roughly
one in 5,000 children.

HAND-WOVEN HATS AND BASKETS
---------------------------

9. SOURCE AND TYPE OF EXPLOITATION: A credible NGO stated in 2008
that they knew of children weaving hats and baskets from palm thatch
in family homes in HCMC, but that they did not know how many such
families existed in total because of the lack of comprehensive
surveys of child labor.

10. NARRATIVE: Credible NGO could not provide a comprehensive
description of the nature and conditions of the child labor, but
speculated that it likely consisted of children helping at their
parents' business for several hours a day after school, but might
include instances of children working longer hours. While the NGO
could not provide statistics these children may have been included
in the miscellaneous home industries captured by the data collection
efforts undertaken by HCMC city officials as noted above.

11. INCIDENCE: The child labor survey described in par. 2 may
eventually provide quantitative data about the degree of child labor
involved in producing these goods nationwide. As other sources
interviewed had no knowledge of these goods being produced by child
labor, we do not believe they represent a significant incidence.
The 1 in 5,000 figure derived from the HCMC study data could well
prove accurate for all types of child labor.

GOLD
----

12. SOURCE AND TYPE OF EXPLOITATION: In March 2008, Vietnamese print
and television news media reported that approximately twenty 15
year-old children had been forced to mine gold in central Quang Nam
province. As press reports on "social evils" in Vietnam are
generally accurate, Mission considers these reports credible.

13. NARRATIVE: The media reported that the children were forced to
work long hours with inadequate food, and that some were subject to
physical and sexual abuse. Provincial officials formed a task force
headed by the police to investigate that mine and others in the
area, arresting the perpetrators of the crime. Four children who
escaped from the mine are now being sheltered by local authorities
and will testify in an upcoming trial of the mine owner.

14. INCIDENCE: The appropriate and timely response of local
officials in this case along with the absence of additional reports
indicates that this was an isolated incident, to which law
enforcement responded appropriately.

MICHALAK

1

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