Search

 

Cablegate: Bilateral Tip Working Group Formed

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 GUATEMALA 001815

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN; G/TIP:GREG HOLLIDAY; CA/VO AND CA/FPP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PHUM SMIG PREL ASEC KSEP KFRD CA CVIS GT
SUBJECT: BILATERAL TIP WORKING GROUP FORMED

REF: STATE 193839

1. (SBU) Summary: In response to RefTel, on July 7, the
Ambassador and visiting G/TIP Program Officer Greg Holliday
met with an inter-governmental group including the Minister
of Government, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vice
Minister of Labor, Secretary of Social Welfare, a Supreme
Court magistrate and other GOG officials to share the
Department's 2003 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report
findings and to request stepped-up GOG collaboration to
combat trafficking in persons. GOG participants described
ongoing efforts to combat trafficking and alien smuggling and
announced the formation of a GOG commission to follow-up on
issues included in the TIP report. The Embassy plans to
follow-up on this result by developing and implementing a
comprehensive anti-TIP strategy and continuing to encourage
GOG attention to this issue. End Summary.

Background
----------

2. (U) G/TIP Program Officer Greg Holliday visited Guatemala
July 7-9 and met with the Embassy's anti-TIP working group,
the GOG, locally-based NGOs and IOs working on anti-TIP, and
visited NGO victims assistance projects on the
Guatemalan-Mexican border at Tecun Uman. Holliday also met
with Embassy NAS staff and the GOG's Secretary of Social
Welfare to discuss the results of an earlier G/TIP-funded
project; met with the main opposition candidate's campaign
advisor on social issues; discussed USG anti-TIP efforts with
participants in a Vital Voices leadership workshop; and gave
an interview to the leading daily "Prensa Libre."

3. (U) Guatemala is rated a Tier II country in the
Department's 2003 TIP report. The GOG acknowledges TIP as a
growing problem and is taking steps to combat it. The
Embassy organized the bilateral meeting to take advantage of
Holliday's visit and the publication of the TIP report to
increase GOG understanding of and will to combat trafficking
in persons.

4. (U) The GOG responded enthusiastically to our request to
the MFA for an inter-governmental meeting on this subject.
Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabriel Aguilera hosted the
meeting, and the following GOG officials attended:

-- Supreme Court Magistrate Napoleon Gutierrez
-- Minister of Government Dr. Jose Adolfo Reyes Calderon
-- Minister of Public Health and Social Assistance Dr. Julio
Molina Aviles
-- Vice Minister of Labor Sandra Mendez de Arevalo
-- Secretary of Social Welfare Marilys Barrientos de Estrada
-- Director General of Migration, Oscar Contreras Hernandez
-- MFA Director of Bilateral Affairs, Sara Solis Castaneda
-- MFA Human Rights Advisor Mario Rene Cifuentes

The Ambassador and Mr. Holliday were accompanied by Acting
PolCouns (Embassy TIP Coordinator) and PolIntern.

USG Pitch
---------

5. (SBU) The Ambassador acknowledged that trafficking in
persons is a serious problem in the U.S., and appealed for
GOG cooperation to fight this scourge. He explained the
difference between trafficking in persons and alien
smuggling. Holliday described how the USG is tackling the
problem in the U.S. domestically (through inter-governmental
coordination) and abroad. He explained the findings of the
TIP report on Guatemala and the implications of a Tier II and
III rankings. Holliday described G/TIP and USG programs
worldwide totaling $55 million in 2002 to combat trafficking,
and gave examples of means to address prevention, assistance
to victims, and law enforcement to catch and prosecute
traffickers.

6. (SBU) Holliday praised Guatemala's National Action Plan
to Combat Sexual Commercial Exploitation of Children and
Adolescents as a good first step and asked how implementation
of the plan was proceeding. He said that governments benefit
from the expertise of IOs and NGOs working to assist victims
of trafficking, such as the IOM and ILO and Casa Alianza in
Central America. He asked to hear about best practices being
implemented to combat trafficking in Guatemala, and gave an
example of a best practice in Nicaragua, where police visit
schools to increase awareness of children to the risks of
TIP. Holliday urged GOG immigration authorities not to treat
victims of trafficking as illegal migrants. Instead, victims
should be interviewed to develop investigations into
trafficking rings, and provided assistance. Deportation of
victims does not solve the problem, he said, if the
trafficker goes free. He noted GOG efforts to combat and
punish corruption and welcomed the start of a bilateral
dialogue on TIP.

7. (SBU) After hearing the GOG presentations (see below) the
Ambassador emphasized the need to implement concrete actions
to combat TIP. He urged a re-examination of the National
Action Plan and Guatemalan laws to combat TIP. Holliday said
that efforts to combat alien smuggling can be adapted to
combat TIP. The hundreds of Guatemalans being deported from
Mexico every day, for example, could be interviewed by
Guatemalan authorities to determine if they are victims of
trafficking.

GOG Presentations: Confusing TIP with Alien Smuggling
--------------------------------------------- ---------
8. (SBU) DirGen of Immigration Contreras described the
number of Salvadoran and Honduran undocumented migrants
deported by Guatemala (36,917 in the first six months of this
year), the number of people charged with migration crimes
during that period (54) and the number of buses used to
transport deportees to their countries. Contreras said
President Portillo is concerned about the lack of border
control and lack of prevention of alien smuggling and
corruption; he then described GOG efforts to change the
situation since 2001, including Contreras' appointment as
"intervenor" of the Migration Directorate. 117 migration
officials have been discharged for corruption, nine have been
charged, and 64 have been subject to disciplinary actions in
the migration directorate, including some directors of the
directorate's union. He said that he had received threats
linked to the case of union corruption.

9. (SBU) Continuing, Contreras said national Immigration
Service computer networks have been established where they
did not exist. The Directorate is now much better equipped
to detect false documents and has created a "blacklist,"
including information on terrorists and a national
immigration database. The Directorate has received
assistance from the USG and the governments of Mexico and
Taiwan to upgrade its capabilities. The Directorate has
cooperative relations with many Embassy sections, he said,
and helped in cases involving the smuggling of 50 Salvadoran
children to the U.S. and in the arrest of the ringleader
responsible for 18 recent smuggling deaths in Texas. He
cited cooperative efforts and accords with Mexico to
modernize border crossing posts. He said that he is willing
to cooperate with NGOs like Casa Alianza, but said "they
sometimes exaggerate and criticize our efforts to protect the
human rights of victims."

10. (SBU) In conclusion, Contreras said the Directorate
cooperates with the MFA on visa matters to avoid corruption
and said, under orders of the President, there are no
"political or military appointees in Immigration." Since
9/11, the GOG has tightened up immigration procedures across
the board, he said. He cited measure taken at the Aurora
International Airport in Guatemala City to tighten ingress,
and provided a report entitled "Results of Intervention,
December 2001-June 2003."

11. (SBU) MFA Human Rights Advisor Mario Rene Cifuentes said
the GOG takes the problem of trafficking, which is really a
modern form of slavery, very seriously. He proposed that
this meeting be considered the start of a bilateral process
or dialogue on TIP. In a formal presentation, Cifuentes
described the GOG's efforts to address the problem
bilaterally and regionally, including:

-- the GOG-GOM Bi-national Group on Immigration Issues

-- the GOG-GOM Bi-national Study on Immigration

-- the GOG-GOM Ad Hoc Group on Temporary Agricultural Workers

-- the GOG-GOM High-Level Group on Border Security

-- the GOG-GOM Bi-national Group on Ports and Border Services

-- similar bi-national efforts with El Salvador and
Honduras

-- the Pilot Project on Temporary Agricultural Workers with
Canada

-- Guatemala's pending request for a trilateral meeting on
migration between the U.S., Mexico and Guatemala, made at the
Regional Conference on Migration in Antigua in May 2002.
(Note: the Embassy facilitated a meeting of the US,
Guatemalan and Mexican delegations to the Conference at GOG
request. At that time, USdel officials and the Mexicans
offered to return to Guatemala at a later date to share
lessons learned from US border control on the US-Mexican
border, and US-Mexican cooperative efforts to combat alien
smuggling. That meeting has not taken place but would
clearly still be welcomed by the GOG. End Note.)

-- the Regional Conference on Migration

-- the Central American Commission of Directors of
Immigration

Cifuentes then listed international conventions Guatemala is
party to related to TIP, including:

-- the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking
in Persons, signed and pending in Congress

-- The UN Convention on Protection of the Rights of Migrant
Workers and their Families (ratified March 14, 2003)

-- Numerous ILO Conventions, including Convention 182 on the
Worst Forms of Child Labor

-- the Hague Convention on Adoptions

Finally, Cifuentes described inter-institutional efforts to
address issues related to TIP, including:

-- the National Immigration Commission

-- the National Commission to Combat Trafficking in Persons
(formed in June 2003 to follow-up issues identified in the
Department's 2003 TIP report.)

-- the proposed National Commission Against Commercial Sexual
Exploitation of Children and Adolescents

-- various port and border crossing security commission and
border consulate meetings

12. (SBU) Supreme Court justice Gutierrez acknowledged the
need for new legislation to combat TIP, and said the
judiciary is developing reforms to strengthen the penal code
that includes TIP. He distanced the judiciary from the role
of public prosecutors, saying the role of the judiciary is to
judge, not to investigate. He cited the need for control
over civil registries to combat undocumented migration, the
use of mobile courts to try traffickers, and better control
over the issuance of visas.

Victims Assistance Efforts
--------------------------

13. (SBU) Turning to victims assistance, Immigration
Director Contreras cited GOG efforts to provide 45
recently-apprehended smuggling victims from Ecuador with
shelter and medicines. One of Contreras' assistants added
that a project exists in cooperation with the IOM to
interview Guatemalan deportees from Mexico to determine if
they were victims of trafficking. Contreras said his
Directorate has proposed training police in humane treatment
of victims, will construct a medical clinic for victims, and
will continue to practice direct repatriation of aliens to
avoid problems experienced in the past of mistreatment and
corruption in holding centers.

14. (SBU) Social Welfare Secretary Barrientos said that
legislation is pending in Congress to ratify the Trafficking
in Persons Protocol and also to create a National Commission
to Combat Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and
Adolescents, which would implement the National Action Plan.
The Commission would be comprised of all GOG institutions
involved in combating trafficking, as well as NGOs. The
Secretariat operates four shelters for child victims of abuse

SIPDIS
referred by the courts. Victims of trafficking referred by
the courts have access to these shelters. (There are
currently approximately 100 children in each of these
shelters and 300 more children in selected private homes, she
said at a subsequent meeting.) In 2002, the Secretariat
assisted 37 victims of trafficking, and in the first six
months of 2003 there have been 16. The issue of trafficking
will be introduced to secondary schools in a 24 hour module,
and there are plans to extend education efforts to the
primary level to reach those most vulnerable to becoming TIP
victims.

15. (SBU) Health Minister Molina described his Ministry's
efforts to provide health services to migrant workers and
deportees in three GOG shelters and at the Casa del Migrante
(an NGO) on the border and in the capital.

16. (SBU) Vice Minister of Labor Mendez cited Ministry of
Labor cooperation with the ILO's Program To Eradicate Child
Labor (IPEC) in various sectors, and Ministry programs
designed to help workers succeed in Guatemala. She cited a
new temporary labor pilot project with Canada which will
provide 100 Guatemalans the opportunity to migrate legally to
earn money for their families, rather than be trafficked.
She also described the Ministry's role to permit ordered
temporary migration for Guatemalans to work in Mexico.

Comment and Action Plan
-----------------------

17. (SBU) The assembled group of GOG officials had copies of
the translated TIP report, which we provided in an earlier
demarche to MFA, and appeared to be familiar with the
difference between trafficking and alien smuggling. Their
responses, however, described efforts to combat the latter
more than the former. While there is obviously substantial
overlap, we will need to continue to emphasize the need for
concrete steps focused on trafficking.

18. (SBU) Nevertheless, we are encouraged by the GOG's
commitment to coordinate its anti-TIP efforts and collaborate
with us to address this problem. This is a good first step
and offers possibilities for future collaboration which we
hope to capitalize on over the coming year. By tapping the
talents of the Embassy's anti-TIP agencies we hope to achieve
concrete progress on the legal regime, law enforcement,
victims assistance, and public awareness to combat this
scourge. For example, the Embassy will help focus Congress
on ratification of the UN Protocol to Combat TIP. We will
press the Public Ministry (the Attorney General was invited,
but absent at this meeting) to step up investigations of
trafficking in the border region (where at least two
convictions of traffickers were reported several years ago).
The Social Welfare Secretariat's shelters, which G/TIP has
supported in the past, offer a good infrastructure for child
victims, and the Secretariat has requested our help to create
a new center in Coatepeque (strategically located on the main
highway route to Mexico) specially geared to helping
trafficking victims of all ages. We will evaluate this
proposal and report further on these possibilities and others
under discussion with IO and NGO partners in the fight
against TIP.
HAMILTON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 


UN: Pope's Visit To Iraq "A Symbol Of Hope"

The visit by Pope Francis to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul at the weekend will be a symbol of hope and an opportunity to join forces for peace and unity, the UN cultural agency, UNESCO, said on Thursday, ahead of his touchdown in the capital, Baghdad... More>>

Myanmar: Military Must Stop Murdering And Jailing Protestors – Bachelet

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Thursday said security forces in Myanmar must “halt their vicious crackdown on peaceful protestors,” following another day of deadly violence across the country on Wednesday... More>>

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs


Podcast: A UN Top Official’s Inspiring Journey To Leadership

UN Under-Secretary for Global Communications Melissa Fleming speaks to Agnes Kalibata, the Special Envoy to the 2021 Food Systems Summit, about her journey as a woman leader – from growing up as a Rwandan refugee in Uganda to becoming Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and now a top official at the United Nations... More>>

UNFCCC: Greater Climate Ambition Urged As Initial NDC Synthesis Report Is Published

UN Climate Change today published the Initial NDC Synthesis Report, showing nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise by 2°C—ideally 1.5°C—by the end of the century... More>>


2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>