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Cablegate: Amb. Lagon Visits Rio de Janeiro to Discuss Trafficking In

VZCZCXRO7200
RR RUEHRG
DE RUEHRI #0172/01 1831205
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011205Z JUL 08
FM AMCONSUL RIO DE JANEIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4534
INFO RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0875
RUEHSO/AMCONSUL SAO PAULO 5166
RUEHRG/AMCONSUL RECIFE 3438

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RIO DE JANEIRO 000172

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/BSC BEN CHIANG, WHA/PPC, G/TIP BARBARA FLECK

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL SOCI BR
SUBJECT: AMB. LAGON VISITS RIO DE JANEIRO TO DISCUSS TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS

1. (U) Summary. Ambassador Mark Lagon, Director of the State
Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
(G/TIP) visited Rio de Janeiro on June 21-23 as part of a multi-city
trip to Brazil. He consulted with various members of the NGO and
academic community on the sexual exploitation of women and children
and on forced labor issues. Amb. Lagon also visited a local girls
shelter which received financial support from the U.S. Government as
part of President Bush's Anti-Trafficking in Persons Initiative.
End Summary.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION

2. (U) Sexual exploitation of women and children in Rio de Janeiro
is fueled by high demand from American and European tourists as well
as from Brazilians of all social classes, explained Dr. Naanko Van
Buuren, head of NGO Brazilian Institute for Innovation in Social
Health (IBSS). Dr. Van Buuren further explained to Amb. Lagon how
rampant police corruption compounds the problem. Corrupt Military
Police officers regularly demand monetary bribes or sexual favors
from prostitutes in exchange for allowing them to work on the
streets; they also demand bribes from bar and club owners to avoid
raids - failure to pay bribes can result in death. (Note: The very
evening that Dr. Van Buuren made these comments, corrupt Military
Officers killed seven people in one of Rio's slums for reportedly
failing to pay tributes/bribes. End Note.) Civil Police officers,
from the investigative arm of state law enforcement, are frequently
involved in running brothels or other organized sexual services.
Amb. Lagon suggested that Brazil's hosting of the "World Congress
III Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents" in
Rio de Janeiro on November 25-28, 2008, could be an excellent
opportunity to "shine a light" on police corruption in Rio.

2. (U) Amb. Lagon's further discussions with Projeto Trama (an
anti-trafficking NGO consortium), Projeto Excola (rehabilitation of
street children NGO), and UNICEF revealed further insights.
Interlocutors explained how corrupt police officers run brothels in
which sexual services are sold for as little as 40 cents per minute,
planned raids are often thwarted due to leaks of information within
the law enforcement community, and victims' contact information is
sometimes released as part of the official court record in a
prosecution case which then makes them targets for retribution. The
NGO representatives welcomed U.S. interest in the issue and
expressed general approval of the Brazil's anti-trafficking efforts,
but reported some problems such as getting officials statistics from
the Federal Police to track trafficking crimes. NGO representatives
also expressed concern that Brazil's anti-trafficking laws are
outdated, and that the criminal-justice system does not provide
sufficient attention to victims and protection to witnesses.

3. (U) Rio-based NGOs concentrate their efforts on victim assistance
and other programs to rehabilitate children who have been exploited.
Amb. Lagon visited one such project run by the City of Rio de
Janeiro which received funding as part of the U.S. Anti-Trafficking
in Persons Initiative, the Dalva de Oliveira Shelter for Adolescent
Girls. The shelter is part of a municipal network, but specializes
in severe cases. Housing eight girls ranging in age from 13-17, the
shelter provides temporary refuge for girls who have been abused or
sexually exploited. In many cases, the girls have worked as
prostitutes or have otherwise been victims of trafficking.
Counselors work with the girls as well as their families to
eventually reintegrate them into their communities and prevent
further exploitation.

INTERNATIONAL TRAFFICKING

4. (U) Rio de Janeiro is not a main center from which to traffic
children internationally, according to Dr. Van Buuren. Rather, the
trend is for Brazilian boys to be sent to the Northeast region of
Brazil as a staging point, then onward to countries like Suriname
and Guyana where they receive false travel documents to enter the
Netherlands or other European countries. From Rio de Janeiro, a
large number of transvestites are trafficked to Europe, in
particular to Milan, Italy. Some boys reportedly receive surgical
procedures in Sao Paolo before being transported to Italy.

FORCED LABOR

5. (U) According to Father Ricardo Rezende, an academic expert on
forced labor issues who heads the Slave Labor Research Group (SLRG)
of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil's efforts
regarding forced labor have progressed significantly in recent years
and the number of people rescued from forced labor conditions is
increasing. Father Rezende told Amb. Lagon that the government's
national strategy is a major step forward and reported that a
revision of the plan is currently underway. Though Brazil's slave
labor law could be "stricter" and criminal punishment is still weak
(offenders often avoid prison terms by providing "family baskets"),
economic pressure on offenders is showing some positive results.

RIO DE JAN 00000172 002 OF 002


The government's "dirty list," an official listing of companies and
individuals involved in the commercial trade of goods produced by
forced labor, motivates suppliers to disassociate themselves from
producers who use forced labor since banks are not allowed to lend
money to listed entities.

6. (U) Amb. Lagon mentioned that the U.S. is also working on its
own, more general "dirty list" which identifies commodities from
certain countries as possibly using forced labor such as cocoa from
Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Father Rezende viewed the U.S. approach
as too broad, arguing that it negatively slurs an entire industry
for the actions of individual producers. Notably in Brazil, he
explained, some production of sugarcane, cotton, meat, and charcoal
uses forced labor - but it would be misleading to say that these
industries as a whole use forced labor. Regarding the question of
whether Brazil's rapidly expanding ethanol production is responsible
for an increase in forced labor on sugarcane farms, Father Rezende
noted the possibility of increased pressure on production volume but
said that oversight in Sao Paulo (where most sugarcane production
takes place) is more persistent, and that unscrupulous practices
such as using child labor are usually not present. A more serious
problem in Sao Paolo in over-exploitation of workers, who are paid
based on productivity and subjected to high production requirements.
Some workers have died as a result.

7. (U) This message was cleared/coordinated with Embassy Brasilia
and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

MARTINEZ

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