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Cablegate: Jordan Tip Interim Assessment

VZCZCXYZ0003
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAM #3171/01 3280624
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230624Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY AMMAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3869
INFO RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 6115
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 0187
RUEHDM/AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS 4015
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0156
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0040
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0125
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA 0119
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0296
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1411

UNCLAS AMMAN 003171

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/RA, G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KTIP KCRM KWMN IZ IS SY ID
CE, RP, IN, VM, BG, JO
SUBJECT: JORDAN TIP INTERIM ASSESSMENT

REF: A. AMMAN 2822
B. AMMAN 1917
C. AMMAN 2206
D. AMMAN 261

1. (SBU) Summary: Over the past six months, Jordan made
steady progress on measures to combat trafficking-in-persons.
Progress includes an increase in trafficking-related cases
being tried, the approval of a joint labor inspector and
police investigation unit, the creation of a Humanitarian and
Legal Assistance Fund for victims, and the placement of
agriculture and domestic workers under the Labor Law. Ongoing
initiatives, such as efforts toward the passage of an
anti-TIP Law and a government-funded shelter, are still
underway with Post actively engaging officials at all levels.
Victim identification procedures and a shelter still need to
be established but are required under a draft anti-TIP law
the GOJ has indicated it intends to send to Parliament in the
current session. End Summary.

New Prosecutions of Trafficking-related Offenses
--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (SBU) The GOJ has taken active steps to prosecute
trafficking-related cases. Kwala Al-Hassan, Qualifying
Industrial Zone Adviser to the Minister of Labor (MOL), told
Poloffs on November 13 that 19 cases involving
trafficking-related conditions have been investigated and
forwarded for prosecution in the last six months. All cases
are in the court system and involve both domestic and QIZ
workers. Al-Hassan also reported that 75 municipal employees
in Karak were charged on October 9 with abuse of position,
negligence, complicity in theft, and forging administrative
stamps after numerous migrant domestic workers were found not
to have the right work permits. (Comment: While the
government previously closed private businesses for labor
violations, this action indicates a willingness to take
action against government officials infringing labor laws. It
also reflects the government's seriousness towards protecting
the rights of foreign workers. End Comment.) Additionally,
Atef Al-Majali, head of the Labor Unit in the National Center
for Human Rights (NCHR), reported to Poloff on November 16
that the Center forwarded ten cases to the courts asking for
the return of domestic workers' confiscated passports. In
each case Al-Majali reported that the courts ordered the
passports to be returned.

3. (SBU) To further increase the number of cases going to
court, the Cabinet approved the creation of a joint labor
inspector and police unit within the MOL. The unit is tasked
with investigating the situation of both migrant QIZ workers
and domestic workers. The International Labor Organization
(ILO) will provide assistance to operationalize the unit and,
as a first step, will send a Jordanian team to Italy in
December for training with experienced police and labor
investigators.

Anti-TIP Law Priority, Identification and Shelter Discussed
--------------------------------------------- --------------

4. (SBU) The GOJ has repeatedly reiterated to Post that the
passage of a comprehensive anti-TIP Law continues to be a top
short-term priority and that they plan to submit the law to
parliament in the current session, which is expected to run
at least until January 31, 2009 (Ref A). (Note: Once
submitted, Parliament can introduce amendments to the law or
delay action if it considers other pending legislation to be
more important or if technical aspects require examination.
(Ref B) End Note) On November 13, the inter-Ministerial Labor
and Trafficking-in-Persons Committee, comprised of the
Ministers of Interior, Labor, Trade, Justice, Social
Development, and Health, met to discuss the draft anti-TIP
Law prepared by an inter-ministerial working group using
Bahrain's and the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) laws as a
basis. (Note: Post provided MOL and NCHR the UAE law and a
model TIP law based on Ambassador Lagon's recommendation of
these laws to the GOJ during his September visit. End Note.)
According to Lejo Sibbel, USAID-funded Adviser to the
Minister of Labor, and Al-Majali, both members of the
drafting committee, the ministers felt the law was close to
completion but wanted the working group to refine a few
clauses. In a November 12 conversation with Poloff, Sibbel
said that while focus is primarily on drafting a good
anti-TIP law, other key anti-TIP measures, such as formal
victim identification procedures and a shelter for victims,
are being discussed inter-ministerially and effort is being
made to include them as requirements under the law.

Humanitarian and Legal Assistance Fund Created
--------------------------------------------- -

5. (SBU) The MOL has established a Humanitarian and Legal
Assistance Fund to provide financial support to victims of
trafficking-related offenses. Approximately 240,000 JD
($336,000) was deposited into the fund by employers paying 43
JD ($60) per employee to legalize workers with expired
residency or work permits during a March to July 2008 amnesty
period. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance
such as food, housing, and repatriation tickets, the fund can
also be used to pay the legal fees for victims filing
criminal or libel cases against their employers. Sibbel told
Poloff that the fund recently paid for the repatriations of
38 migrant workers from Bangladesh when their factory closed
without notice, leaving them without final salary payments
and airline tickets. The fund is also paying for a lawyer to
take their case to court.

Significant Development: Labor Law Amendments
---------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Agriculture and domestic workers are now fully
covered under the Labor Law after Parliament passed four key
amendments in July (Ref C). As a result, Jordan essentially
has a single Labor Law for all people regardless of
nationality or type of work. According to Sibbel, regulations
that will codify specific standards, such as wages, work
contract norms, rest periods, inspection practices, and
working hours, are near completion. Sibbel noted that the
regulations will allow inspectors to enter households for the
first time, but either the household's permission or a court
order will first be required. Fines for failure to comply
with the Labor Law were also increased from JD 100-500 ($140
- $700) to JD 300-500 ($420 - $700). If an employer forces,
threatens or coerces someone to work (including withholding
their passports), the offender faces a fine of $700 - $1,400
(JD 500-1000). Anyone peripherally involved in the case can
also be punished under the same law. If the offender repeats
the violations, fi
nes are doubled.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) Comment: The GOJ has strongly stated that fighting
TIP is a top priority and has signaled its commitment by
making progress on several key fronts. The elevation of the
anti-TIP inter-ministerial committee to the ministerial level
and the formation of three sub-committees charged with moving
the anti-TIP agenda forward quickly were positive steps
towards achieving the established goals. Changes to the labor
law, approval of a joint labor inspector and police unit,
creation of a humanitarian and legal assistance fund, and
increasing number of cases sent to court are key developments
in the past six months and are representative of the
government's anti-TIP commitment. Post actively engages the
GOJ and Parliament at all levels on TIP and continues to
press for measures not yet completed, especially the passage
of an anti-TIP law. Post formed an inter-Embassy
anti-trafficking committee to coordinate engagement across
sections and agencies and to examine methods of assisting GOJ
efforts. Post will continue to monitor TIP progress and
provide updates. End Comment.

Visit Amman's Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman
Beecroft

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