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Cablegate: Hcmc Tip Update: More Police Busts, Ngos Focus On Women's

VZCZCXRO2477
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHNH
DE RUEHHM #1063/01 3450650
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100650Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5211
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 3474
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY PRIORITY 5440

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HO CHI MINH CITY 001063

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS AND G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KTIP PHUM VM
SUBJECT: HCMC TIP UPDATE: MORE POLICE BUSTS, NGOS FOCUS ON WOMEN'S
EMPOWERMENT

REF: HCMC 964 AND PREVIOUS

HO CHI MIN 00001063 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: Southern law enforcement officials continue
to make progress in combating human trafficking, as recent
arrests in HCMC and Tay Ninh province show. Local NGOs are also
making headway in finding long-term solutions to support
economic development and women's empowerment in Delta
communities. The missing link to all these efforts remains the
lack of resources and community support services, especially for
victims returning to Vietnam. End summary.

Recent Busts in Tay Ninh Ho Chi Minh City
-----------------------------------------
2. (SBU) On November 28, 2008, HCMC press reported the arrests
of three men at Tan Son Nhat (TSN) airport who were allegedly
taking three Vietnamese women to Malaysia to sell them into
prostitution. Local police, in coordination their counterparts
in neighboring Tay Ninh Province, interrogated the suspects, who
then pointed police to their alleged ringleader, Nguyen Thi Ngoc
Yen and three additional accomplices involved in trafficking
women to Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan. All four were
arrested, bringing the total to seven suspects in one
trafficking ring. Lieutenant Colonel Le Thanh Kiem of HCMC's
anti-TIP police (Unit PC-14) said they had been investigating
Yen and her group for several months prior to the arrests. Upon
searching Yen's home in Ho Chi Minh City, the police found seven
other women.

3. (SBU) Police said Yen posed as a marriage broker, offering
women lucrative marriages to well-heeled Malaysian men. The
women were then forced into prostitution after arriving in
Malaysia. Initial investigation revealed that Yen met her
connection, identified as Lee, through her daughter, who is
married to a Malaysian national. Lee agreed to pay Yen $1,000
for each Vietnamese girl she brought to Malaysia. Police said
Yen paid brokers in rural Delta provinces of Tay Ninh, Long An,
Soc Trang, Bac Lieu, and Can Tho a little over $100 per person
to lure young women aged 18 to 25 to HCMC, where they are then
sent abroad. Since 2006, authorities said Yen has sold over 100
women, 70 of which are from Tay Ninh, into prostitution in
Malaysia, South Korea, and Taiwan.

4. (SBU) The recent arrests exposed the complexity and
sophistication of trafficker's schemes as well as the growing
effectiveness of local law enforcement, especially in terms of
cooperation and coordination across provinces. From late 2007
until July 2008, Tay Ninh province has broken up four
trafficking-in-persons rings, arresting a total of 11 suspects
and saving 15 potential victims (reftel). All suspects are
currently being detained in Tay Ninh. Some of the cases have
been transferred for prosecution, and some are still under
further investigation. In recent months, anti-TIP police have
uncovered 98 cases of trafficking, rescuing 176 out of 217 known
victims and arresting 188 traffickers. Local police are still
working with foreign officials to try and rescue the 57 victims
who remain abroad. According to LtC Kiem, over half of the
cases took place in the Mekong Delta.

Mekong NGO Focuses on Women's Empowerment, Economic Development
--------------------------------------------- ------------------
5. (SBU) On November 25-26, 2008, PAO represented the Consulate
General at the Mekong Women for Community Development Ceremony
(MWCD) held in Can Tho with about 200 women from Can Tho, Kien
Giang, and An Giang provinces. The MWCD, which is organized by
the Pacific Links Foundation with some funding from EAP,
organized women's groups in five relevant topics -- anti-human
trafficking, vocational training, clean water, micro-credit
loans, and nutrition -- and provided nine million dong
(approximately $531 USD) seed grants to each group. MWCD
focuses their efforts on promoting economic growth and
development for women in Delta communities, specifically through
encouraging Women's Unions to recruit leaders that can develop
business plans and projects to generate income. These efforts
help provide an economic base for women who might otherwise seek
employment or marriage overseas, leaving them vulnerable to
exploitation by human traffickers. At the same time, MWCD also
empowers women to engage with local officials, enhancing the
role of civil society and facilitating networking across
communities and provinces.

6. (SBU) Reports on resulting projects were peppered with
concrete examples and testimonials. Those funded to work on
anti-TIP projects explained their counseling and outreach
efforts to victims, including having to visit returnees
grappling with societal stigmatization up to seven times in
order to help them re-integrate into the community. One woman,
51, stood up in tears to relay her experience as the third wife
of a Korean man. One vocational training success centered on
making furniture from water hyacinth; the group reported they

HO CHI MIN 00001063 002.2 OF 002


are now exporting hyacinth chairs and mattresses. To stem a
labor exodus between rice growing seasons, micro-loans of one
million dong ($59 USD) to nine households translated into micro
businesses that provide regular income.

7. (SBU) The event was no naive pep rally; sessions also laid
bare challenges, like the scope of the demand for Vietnamese
brides and how the marriage brokering business can lead to
trafficking-in-persons, especially given the lack of economic
opportunities available in these rural provinces. Aside from
the dominance of Taiwanese and Korean men seeking wives, concern
was expressed that "even remote areas of China have too many
males," raising the spectre of increased migration of women to
other Asian countries. In subsequent meetings with MWCD
organizers at the Consulate, organizers also bemoaned the lack
of support services for returning victims, noting that Vietnam's
inadequate health care system, which has an even more acute
shortage of personnel and resources in rural provincial
communities, do not provide mental health care and counseling,
much less the training needed for professionals who want to
provide such services.
FAIRFAX

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