Cablegate: Croatia Reaction: 2003 Trafficking in Persons

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

181300Z Jun 03





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) We were called in to the Foreign Ministry on June 13
to discuss the recently released 2003 Trafficking in Persons
report. Dubravka Simonovic, Head of the Human Rights section
in the Department for UN and Human Rights, asked for an
explanation of why Croatia was placed as a tier 2 country in
the Department's 2003 Trafficking in Persons report. She
observed that to be included in the report a country would
have to have a significant number of trafficking victims,
defined as not less than 100 victims. She then pointed out
that there have been eight victims in Croatia, a number that
is agreed upon by NGOs, international organizations, and the

2. (SBU) We explained that the assessment of a "significant"
number of victims was based not just on the number of known
victims, but also on the number of women trafficked into
Western Europe, the number of women trafficked from source
countries, the fact that one of the three known routes from
source countries to Western Europe goes through Croatia, and
the fact that the police deport many women without ever
questioning how they got into Croatia. Based on these
factors, we think its reasonable that a significant number of
victims are trafficked through Croatia. Simonovic summarized
that our assessment was based on an "assumption," and we need
more credible data. Besides challenging us on the data, she
also questioned where Bosnia and Serbia and Montenegro were
on the report, and wanted to know why Macedonia was a tier 1
country "when they have a much bigger problem than we do."

3. (SBU) Despite the disagreement over numbers, Simonovic
affirmed that Croatia had the political will to address the
problem of trafficking, and that it wishes to work closely
with us to address the issue. She asked what they needed to
do to come into compliance with the Trafficking Victims
Protection Act. We provided her with a summary of activities
and deadlines from Croatia's National Action Plan to suppress
trafficking, approved by the GOC last November, and pointed
out how little had been implemented in the intervening time
period. She admitted that the deadlines were not realistic
and that this issue needed to be addressed by the National
Committee. She further bemoaned the limited availability of
GOC funding for trafficking activities, yet assured us that
the ministries allocate additional funding beyond the
approximately $16,000 available through the Government Human
Rights Office for trafficking activities.

4. (SBU) We later met with Ivana Werft, Secretary to the
National Committee for the Suppression of Trafficking in
Persons. Werft has been a willing and able interlocutor on
trafficking issues, and has worked to bridge the gap between
NGO activists and the GOC on trafficking issues. Like
Simonovic, Werft was concerned with the report's finding that
Croatia has a significant problem of over 100 cases of
trafficking when all agree that there have been eight
identified victims. To illustrate the problems connected
with transit and identification of trafficking, she
rhetorically asked what border police can do, and what data
can be gleaned from a situation, when, for example, police
stop, question, and then send on their way young women from
the Balkans who are legally transiting Croatia and say they
are en route to a job in Western Europe. Werft pointed out
that of the eight known victims in Croatia, two had been
identified while transiting Croatia, a testimony to increased
awareness and training.


5. (U) The very nature of the crime of trafficking creates
serious obstacles in terms of compiling accurate and reliable
data, particularly in countries that are believed to be
primarily transit countries. All those working on the issue
locally recognize the problem of a lack of data, yet NGOs and
the International Office for Migration (IOM) have and
continue to request donor funding solely for awareness
raising and prevention activities. Our requests to the
Stability Pact for examples or models of good data collection
projects have not met with success.

6. (U) We had prepared both Simonovic and Werft in advance
for the tier 2 listing. In part due to our aggressive
engagement on the issue -- for months we took every
opportunity to forewarn that we anticipated Croatia may be
listed as a tier 2 country -- both Simonovic and Werft told
us they were not surprised at the listing and had in fact
expected it.

7. (SBU) Despite the challenges to us on the numbers, the
tier 2 placement has had the predictable effect of sharpening
the GOC's focus on the issue. Simonovic specifically stated
that the issue is now a priority for the GOC because the IC
has made it a priority. As with refugee and return and
reintegration issues, where the international community
focuses, the GOC responds. We will strive to maintain their
attention on this issue in the hope that increased GOC
funding and meaningful activities will result.

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