Search

 

Cablegate: Input for 2004 Tip Report - Vietnam

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 14 HANOI 000652

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR G/TIP,G,INL,DRL,PRM,IWI,EAP/BCLTV,EAP/RSP
PASS TO AID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB SMIG ASEC KFRD PREF CH TW CA VM OMIG TIP
SUBJECT: INPUT FOR 2004 TIP REPORT - VIETNAM

REFS: A. STATE 7869 B. 03 HANOI 3232 C. 03 HANOI 3288 D. 03

HANOI 2323 E. HANOI 336 F. HCMC 196

1. Mission Vietnam's response to the TIP questions in reftel
A follows, following the requested checklist format.

2. OVERVIEW OF VIETNAM'S ACTIVITIES TO ELIMINATE TIP

A. Characterization of trafficking in Vietnam:

Vietnam is a country of origin for trafficked, women, and
children, but the highest percentage of victims are
undereducated rural women between 18 and 40 years of age.
Exact (or even rough) numbers are very hard to come by;
however, government and NGO sources agree that the number is
in the "thousands" per year. In press reports, Vietnamese
police spokesmen have said that 50,000 Vietnamese women have
been sold into prostitution in the past decade, but the
source of this figure is unknown. Vietnam now has a
dedicated crime statistics office, but it only opened in
August 2003. That office tracks data only on arrests,
prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers and therefore
will not be a source of data on the total number of
trafficking victims in Vietnam. Several NGOs are currently
applying for funding to do a comprehensive survey of the
trafficking problem in Vietnam.

Trafficking occurs within Vietnam's borders, as well as from
Vietnam to other countries.

B. Source and destination of trafficking victims:

Vietnamese trafficking victims come from almost all
provinces and cities in Vietnam. The two main destinations
for Vietnamese trafficking victims are China and Cambodia;
in general, most northern and central trafficking victims
are trafficked to China, while victims in the south are
trafficked to Cambodia. The highest concentration of
victims trafficked north came from Thanh Hoa province, south
of Hanoi. The Cambodian border provinces of An Giang and
Tay Ninh have a relatively high number of victims trafficked
to Cambodia.

A small number of women from Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong
Delta who married men from Taiwan were forced into
prostitution or domestic servitude after their arrival in
Taiwan. Since 1995, as many as 75,000 Vietnamese women have
gone to Taiwan as brides. Vietnamese and Taiwan estimates
of the number who have encountered difficulties, including
but not limited to trafficking, range from five to ten
percent. The number of actual trafficking victims - as
differentiated from women who found themselves in unhappy
marriages - is estimated by Taiwan and Vietnam authorities
as between one and two hundred per year. (ref B).

Cambodia and China are the destinations for the vast
majority of Vietnamese trafficking victims. However, the
Ministry of Public Security (MPS) notes that Vietnamese
women have also been trafficked to Macao, Hong Kong, and
Malaysia for prostitution, although in much smaller numbers.

C. Changes in direction or extent:

Vietnam has only recently begun collecting data on
trafficking, and so it is not possible accurately to
evaluate changes in the direction or extent of trafficking
at this time. However, there is at present no indication of
any change in direction or extent.

D. Reports or surveys planned or underway:

In January 2003, UNICEF and MPS completed a survey of over
1,000 trafficking cases from 10 cities and provinces in
northern Vietnam to determine the nature and extent of the
problem. At the time of the 2003 TIP report, this survey
was not yet publicly available. MPS will release a similar
study, examining the problem in the southern provinces, in
the first half of 2004. That survey is also not yet
available. Other NGOs, the Asia Foundation (TAF) and UNODC
in particular, have expressed interest in doing research on
trafficking in Vietnam and publishing their results.
E. Conditions for victims trafficked into Vietnam:
Vietnam is not known to be a destination point for
trafficked victims.

F. Targets and methods of traffickers:

The primary population targeted by traffickers in Vietnam is
unmarried women from poor and rural areas. More than 90
percent of trafficking victims have less than a high school
education, and 92 percent reported their occupations as
either unemployed or farmer. There has been no systematic
analysis of who the traffickers are, but in Mission
interviews with trafficking victims (and their relatives and
friends) as well as numerous press reports, traffickers have
been residents or former residents of the trafficking
victims' provinces or communities. In some cases, the
traffickers are traders or businesspeople, but in
approximately half of the cases the traffickers were former
trafficking victims themselves. The primary tactic of
traffickers is to offer a so-called "easy" job as a trader,
waitress, or domestic helper in either China or Cambodia.
In many (at least 25 percent, according to the UNICEF study)
cases of victims being trafficked to China, the victims are
told they are going to China to marry a wealthy man who
cannot find a suitable Chinese wife. Victims are generally
moved across the Chinese and Cambodian borders without
documents. In more than 80 percent of surveyed cases,
victims crossed the border away from legal crossing gates.
The MPS admits that Vietnam's long land borders with China
and Cambodia are extremely porous. In the relatively small
number of cases involving victims trafficked to more distant
destinations such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Malaysia, MPS
representatives stated that traffickers disguise victims as
legitimate tourists or workers under a labor export program
(ref c).

Vietnamese authorities, in cooperation with other third
country law enforcement officials, have documented cases of
trafficking in Vietnamese babies for international adoption,
especially in the area of directed adoption, involving
payments to parents in exchange for releasing their babies
for adoption. In addition to this, small children and
infants are sometimes kidnapped and sold to traffickers in
China. In July, police in Hanoi arrested a woman suspected
of kidnapping six children in the impoverished provinces of
Thanh Hoa and Nghe An for sale to China.

G. Political will to combat TIP:

There is political will at the highest levels of government
to combat trafficking in persons. In September 2003, Deputy
Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem hosted an interagency meeting
for all involved agencies, as well as the provinces most
affected by trafficking (ref D). At that meeting, DPM Khiem
reviewed the implementation of the Prime Minister's 1998
directive number 776/TTg concerning trafficking in persons.
He directed MPS to lead an effort to choose a GVN agency to
lead the interagency effort against trafficking. MPS
created a separate office to focus on trafficking, and
intends to upgrade that office to a department in 2004. The
GVN is also committed to implementing its commitments under
the Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling,
Trafficking in Persons, and Related Transnational Crime (aka
the Bali Process), and is moving towards concluding a
bilateral MOU on trafficking in persons with Cambodia.

The GVN does not have extensive resources, but it has
recently focused more of its economic development efforts on
rural and mountainous communities in part out of a desire to
change the conditions of poverty that contribute to the
persistence of trafficking. On the prosecution side, it has
created a separate office in MPS to focus on trafficking.
Local communities, provincial-level Women's Unions, and
provincial Departments of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs
are charged with -- and have been generally active in --
facilitating the reentry and rehabilitation of trafficked
victims.

H. Government complicity in trafficking:

There were no cases in 2003 that would lead to the
conclusion that governmental authorities, forces, or
individual members of the government facilitate or condone
trafficking in persons. However, the GVN has a persistent
problem with corruption within its ranks, and that problem
is particularly severe among street-level police and border
agents. There were several cases in 2003 where officers in
state-owned enterprises were found to have facilitated
illegal labor migration through labor export, a form of
trafficking in persons. The GVN prosecuted these cases. In
May 2003 three officials from the Employment Service Center
of the Administration Department of the General Staff
Department of the Ministry of Defense (MOD) were found to
have participated in a scheme to cheat Vietnamese workers
into going to Malaysia, where they were exploited. One of
them was prosecuted by the local police in Thai Binh
province, and two others by MOD's Criminal Investigation
Division. In 2003, the press also reported that the Acting
Chief of the Center for Development and Application of
Technology and Science -- an NGO supported in part by the
GVN -- was sentenced to nine years in prison for her
involvement in a predatory labor export scheme.

There have undoubtedly been other cases of officials
prosecuted for their involvement in trafficking, but the
statistics on criminal prosecution of traffickers are not
disaggregated by profession. Hard data is not available.

I. GVN's ability to address the problem:

The limitations on the GVN's ability to address the problem
come primarily from the socioeconomic conditions in Vietnam,
the usually low levels of ability of the police and armed
forces, and the extensive land borders with China and
Cambodia, the primary destination countries for Vietnamese
victims of trafficking.

Vietnam is poor; CY 2003 per capita income was USD 480, and
in rural and mountainous areas, the figure is much lower.
Jobless women believe that China is a much richer place with
significant numbers of prosperous businessmen who cannot get
married in China because there is a lack of eligible women.
Many in the south believe that there is money to be made in
Cambodia working as the servant of a rich man or in the
entertainment industry. Real economic opportunity in
Vietnam is concentrated in urban areas, home to less than 20
percent of the population. For the majority of Vietnamese
women, a rural, uneducated life at or below the poverty line
is the best they can expect. The pool of potential
trafficking victims is vast.

The socioeconomic conditions in Vietnam also affect the
ability and integrity of the police and border guards.
Vietnam does not have the resources to train or equip these
personnel extensively, and their salaries are low - between
twenty and forty dollars per month. These deficiencies
contribute to the problems of corruption and incompetence in
the Vietnamese police, especially at the provincial level.

The porous borders between Vietnam and the two main
destination countries represent the third limitation on the
GVN's ability to combat trafficking. Traffickers are able
to evade the police easily. MPS officers admit that the
long borders between Vietnam and China and between Vietnam
and Cambodia offer traffickers many options for crossing the
border illegally with trafficking victims (ref c).
Vietnamese border authorities in the south have admitted
that in remote areas, they rely on locals informing the
police in the event a stranger passes through the area
heading for the border. In practice, this does not
represent an effective border control strategy. However,
considering the limited resources of the Border Army and the
thousands of kilometers of easily crossable borders, it is
difficult to implement a truly effective strategy.
J. Government monitoring of anti-TIP activities:

The GVN's monitoring effort exists but is not systematic.
Deputy Prime Minister Khiem's meeting in September 2003 was
designed to review performance in the fight against
trafficking among all interested agencies. The GVN shared
the results of that meeting with the public and the
international community through press reports and readout
briefings with NGOs. The GVN also held a meeting in
February 2004 with all interested Embassies and
international organizations regarding Vietnam's actions
under the Bali Process, with formal assessments from the
Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MOLISA),
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), MPS, and the Border
Army. In addition to these seminar-style assessments, MPS
has been working with UNICEF to produce two comprehensive
reviews of the actual situation of trafficking in persons to
China and Cambodia and examining prevention and
investigation efforts. According to representatives of MPS,
the second of those reports is scheduled to be released in
"early 2004," probably in March.

The GVN does not have a formal mechanism for sharing this
information. It is, however, sometimes available upon
request.

K. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution:

Prostitution is subject to penalties in Vietnam. Brothel
owners, procurers, prostitutes, and customers are all
subject to arrest. Brothel owners and procurers face jail
time under the Penal Code, and prostitutes and customers are
usually given "administrative punishment," imposed by the
police without the involvement of prosecutors or courts.
Prostitutes are routinely sent to rehabilitation centers,
while customers face fines. Customers who are found with
prostitutes under the age of 18 are subject to prosecution
and jail time.

L. Purchase of child brides in Vietnam:

The GVN admits that there may be cases of child brides being
bought and sold; however, no cases have been identified and
no figures are available. It is illegal to marry before the
age of 18. Despite this fact, girls younger than 18 do get
married (or at least, set up housekeeping in the absence of
a legal wedding) regularly, especially in rural areas. The
issue of buying and selling is a complicated one, since
cultural aspects of a traditional wedding in Vietnam (such
as the groom giving gifts to the bride's family) can
resemble a transaction in extreme cases. This is especially
true when foreign men come to Vietnam to marry Vietnamese
women. In these cases, grooms frequently provide a
significant cash gift to the parents of the bride with an
expectation of more gifts in the future (ref B).

Vietnamese men are not known to travel abroad to purchase
child brides.

3. PREVENTION:

A. GVN acknowledgement of the problem:

The GVN acknowledges the problem of trafficking publicly and
privately at all levels of government and with domestic and
international audiences. Two representative statements
follow: "In recent years, the situation of trafficking in
women and children in Vietnam has become complicated and
serious. . . in the past ten years, thousands of women and
children were cheated to be sold abroad, forced to be wives,
to be exploited for labor." (Vice-Director of Criminal
Police Col. Nguyen Manh Te, at an official briefing on
"Policies, Legislation and Measures of the Government of
Vietnam Against People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and
Related Transnational Crime, 26 February 2004.) "Thousands
of Vietnamese women and children have been victims of both
organized and spontaneous people trafficking. . . Although
Vietnam has done its best, as a result of numerous objective
and subjective reasons, trafficking in women and children
remains complicated and serious, causing deep concerns for
the community, threatening the life of thousands of women,
children, and their families, nurturing potential bad
consequences for national security and social safety." (MFA
Consular Director General Bui Dinh Dinh, same venue.)

B. Agencies involved in anti-TIP efforts:

The lead agency falls under the MPS, which has an office
dedicated to trafficking enforcement as well as the
responsibility for coordinating interagency efforts. The
other agencies involved are the MFA, MOLISA, the Border
Army, and the Women's Union.

C. Government-run anti-TIP information or education
campaigns:

The GVN has not mounted separate, specific anti-TIP
campaigns, but the issue of trafficking has been raised in
combination with other information and education programs.
For example, Vietnam Television occasionally addresses the
issue in a popular television program about home economy,
featuring returnees discussing their trafficking experiences
and advising others on how to avoid being trafficked.

Trafficking in persons is normally included with other "anti-
social evil programs" run by MOLISA's Department of Social
Evils Prevention. (Note: The GVN defines "social evils" as
drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, prostitution, and trafficking in
persons. End note.) For example, the GVN's official anti-
prostitution program has been underway since 2001. This
program includes trafficking information and education
campaigns. This program, according to DSEP, targets
victims, high-risk groups, and the entire society. In
addition, DSEP confirmed that MPS is now working on a
national anti-trafficking plan of action for the 2005-2010
period that will include an information and education
component.

D. GVN support of other programs to prevent trafficking:

The GVN supports several domestically funded and foreign
funded anti-trafficking programs.

On February 12 2004, the GVN approved its 2004 - 2010
National Program of Action on Protection for Children in
Special Circumstances. The program has four objectives
targeted at:

- providing for homeless children;
- ending the worst forms of child labor;
- preventing women and children from being trafficked; and
- capacity building and advocacy.

In addition to this program, the GVN also supports various
ongoing trafficking projects throughout Vietnam, including
international programs, such as following ILO projects:

- ILO - Japan Asian Regional Program for Extension of
Employment Opportunities for Women, Capacity Building,
Credit Schemes, and Income Generation;
- Project on Promoting More and Better Jobs for Young Women
in Vietnam (2001 - 2004);
- National Program for the Prevention and Elimination of
Child Labor in Vietnam; and
- The Mekong Sub-regional Project to Combat Trafficking in
Women and Children.

Other NGOs and international organizations such as IOM,
Action Aid, Save the Children UK, UNODC, and UNICEF are
assisting in combating trafficking. These projects all
contain a GVN component, mostly in the form of in-kind
contributions (ref D).

E. GVN ability to support prevention programs:

Though prevention in the form of socioeconomic development
for the high-poverty areas where many trafficking victims
originate is the GVN's top priority for addressing the issue
of trafficking in persons, the magnitude of the task of
improving the standard of living for all those living in
rural poverty exceeds the GVN's resources. The GVN is
dependent on overseas assistance to meet many of its
developmental goals, which themselves are insufficient to
eliminate the potential pool of victims.

F. Relationship between government officials, NGOs, other
relevant organizations and other elements of civil society
on the trafficking issue:

The GVN's ability to operate in an interagency context is
limited. Communication technology is antiquated and there
is little tradition of interagency cooperation, although
that is improving since the Deputy Prime Minister's decision
to place MPS in charge of interagency coordination on the
TIP issue. The GVN works well with relevant organizations
on the TIP issue, especially those connected to the UN such
as UNICEF and UNODC. MPS has played an active role in
several UNICEF and UNODC trafficking projects recently,
going so far as to assign one senior officer full time in
the UNODC office as the national project coordinator. This
greatly improves UNODC's ability to work with MPS.

On the trafficking issue, the civil society representation
comes from the Women's Union, a mass organization under the
Vietnam Fatherland Front for women's issues in Vietnam. The
Women's Union has branches and offices throughout the
country down to the commune level. Relations between the
Women's Union and other agencies on the subject of
trafficking are excellent.

G. GVN border control adequacy and monitoring of
emigration/immigration patterns for evidence of TIP:

Representatives from the General Criminal Division of MPS
have admitted that, along Vietnam's 5,000 km of land
borders, there are "countless forest paths where people
cross the border unofficially"(ref C). Sophisticated
monitoring of immigration and emigration patterns for
evidence of trafficking would exceed the GVN's technical and
human resource abilities. Vietnam has only just begun
collecting statistics on trafficking; building and
exploiting an effective database are yet to come.

H. Existence of trafficking and corruption task forces:

MPS has overall coordination authority over a group of
ministries charged with combating trafficking in persons.
The GVN does not have a broad-based TIP task force, except
for the TIP office in MPS that is focused solely on
enforcement. There is no interagency task force on
corruption in Vietnam, although there is a State
Inspectorate as well as a Ministry of Internal Affairs and
an Internal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of
Vietnam (CPV), all of which have investigatory and
supervisory powers.

I. GVN participation in international anti-TIP efforts:

The GVN's most significant international effort to combat
trafficking in persons is through its participation in the
Bali Process connected with the Bali Regional Ministerial
Conferences on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and
Related Transnational Crime held in February 2002 and April
2003. In addition to the commitments from the Bali Process,
Vietnam intends to participate in the Asia Regional
Cooperation to Prevent People Trafficking Project funded by
AusAid when that project expands beyond Thailand, Burma,
Laos, and Cambodia. According to the ASEAN Secretariat,
the purpose of that project is to strengthen regional
cooperation and legal policy frameworks through identified
ASEAN Secretariat plus China (Yunnan Province) national
points of contact, and build national and regional capacity
to prevent trafficking in women and children.

Vietnam also took part in the Asian Ministerial Consultation
on Migration Labor, held in Sri Lanka in April 2003, and
several other working-level conferences and seminars on
migrant labor and trafficking.

J. GVN plan of action for TIP:

There is not yet a formal national plan of action to address
trafficking in persons in Vietnam. However, under the
guidance of the Office of the Prime Minister and MPS, the
agencies involved in the fight against trafficking all have
a common set of goals and strategies that together create a
kind of action plan. It is comprehensive and covers
prevention, prosecution, and protection, as well as
socioeconomic development, legal reform and capacity
building, and international cooperation. NGOs were not
formally consulted in the development of these strategies,
but the GVN relies heavily on assistance from the ILO,
UNODC, and UNICEF to implement the plan. At the moment,
trafficking in persons is addressed in the 2000 - 2005
National Anti-criminal Plan of Action. According to MPS, a
separate national plan of action to address trafficking in
persons is in the works, based on existing goals and
strategies.

K. Entity or person responsible for developing anti-
trafficking programs within the government:

Based on the instructions of DPM Khiem during the September
2003 trafficking conference, MPS is the point of contact for
anti-trafficking activities among the Ministry of Health,
MOLISA, MFA, Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Border Army, the
Women's Union and other mass organizations.

MPS is responsible for reporting to the Office of the Prime
Minister on the issue of trafficking in women and children
after collecting and analyzing all information from other
concerned ministries and agencies. In practice, the
Criminal Police Department within the General Department of
People's Police (part of MPS) handles issues pertaining to
trafficking in persons.

4. INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS:

A. Laws specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons:

Most traffickers in Vietnam are prosecuted under the current
Penal Code Articles 119 and 120, according to the Law
Department of the Office of the National Assembly. Article
119 concerns trafficking in women, and provides for
penalties ranging from 2 to 20 years in prison. Article 120
concerns trafficking in children, and penalties range from 3
years to life in prison. Trafficking in women and children
for all purposes, not just prostitution, is covered under
these articles. Trafficking for the purposes of labor
exploitation is covered in Vietnam under Penal Code 275
(titled "organizing and/or coercing other persons to flee
abroad or to stay abroad illegally"). GVN authorities,
including the MOJ, recognize that although all forms of
trafficking can be prosecuted one way or another under the
Vietnamese Penal Code, existing legislation in Vietnam does
not comprehensively cover trafficking in persons. The GVN
is engaged in a legal reform project now that is designed to
correct the flaws in the current code concerning trafficking
in persons and provide the legislative basis for Vietnam to
accede to international protocols on trafficking in persons.
According to the MPS Criminal Police Department, the GVN is
currently "developing and gradually perfecting the legal
system concerning the prevention, the prosecution of crimes
and the violation of laws on trafficking in women and
children." Vietnamese law does not address the issue of
trafficking in men for sexual purposes, and there are no
indications that this is a problem in Vietnam. If it did
happen, however, it would be possible to prosecute the
traffickers under laws criminalizing the procurement of
prostitutes, according to MOJ.

2003 saw substantial changes in Vietnamese law pertaining to
labor exports, accompanied by implementing instruments to
curb abuses (ref E). Effective as of January 2003,
amendments to the Vietnamese Labor Code added a section on
"Vietnamese working abroad." Included in this section's
articles is a stipulation that only "Vietnamese citizens who
are 18 years of age in full or over, who have the ability to
work, who are voluntary and satisfy all other standards and
conditions in accordance with Vietnamese laws and the laws
and requirements of the foreign party may work in a foreign
country." The amendments also include the requirement that
enterprises have a permit to send workers abroad, thus
ensuring some measure of government control over the system.
The changes more clearly detail the rights and obligations
of both the workers and the enterprises, including the
enterprise's obligation "to manage and protect the interests
of laborers during the period of working abroad under their
contracts in accordance with the law of Vietnam and the law
of the foreign country;" "to pay compensation for damage to
the laborer caused by the breach of the contract by the
enterprise;" and "to complain to the authorized State body
against breaches of the laws in the field of labor export."

In July 2003, the GVN promulgated an updated Decree to
implement these provisions. This regulation requires that
companies "monitor, manage, and protect the legal rights of
labor during their time of working abroad" and "have cadres
for the management of the labor depending upon the foreign
market." The enterprises are thus required regularly to
inspect overseas workplaces both before and after signing
labor contracts. The information from the pre-inspection
must be included in the registration of a labor export
contract submitted to MOLISA. According to one labor export
company, MOLISA carries out both scheduled and surprise
inspections of labor export companies.

The new Decree highlights the conditions for granting and
revoking licenses for labor export. Presently, Vietnam has
154 licensed labor export companies. 150 of these are state
enterprises "owned" by a wide range of ministries and
provinces, while the remaining four are private companies
operating under a pilot program. According to MOLISA's
Department of Overseas Labor, the GVN will reissue licenses
to labor export enterprises one year after the
implementation of this new Decree (i.e. July 2004). MOLISA
will use this opportunity to reconsider all licenses, not
granting new ones to those that do not meet the necessary
conditions. MOLISA has already used its power to revoke the
licenses of "irresponsible" labor export companies ten times
between 2001 and 2003. It also temporarily suspended eight
licenses. For more serious abuses of worker's rights,
MOLISA coordinates with MPS to prosecute violators under
criminal statutes.

B. Penalties for traffickers:

The revised Penal Code of Vietnam states in Article 119 that
those who commit acts of "trading" women for the purpose of
prostitution shall be sentenced to between five and twenty
years of imprisonment. Article 120 provides sentences of
between ten and twenty years of imprisonment for those who
commit the crime of trading in, fraudulently exchanging or
appropriating children for use for prostitution purposes.
Traffickers of people for labor exploitation are prosecuted
in Vietnam under Penal Code section 275 and face penalties
of between 2 and 20 years in prison depending on the
severity of the crime.

C. Penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault:

Penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault range from six
months in prison to capital punishment. Capital punishment
is reserved for cases in which: the victim is killed,
seriously disabled or infected with HIV/AIDS; the
perpetrator is a participant in a gang rape; or the
perpetrator has raped more than one person. With the
exception of the potential of the death penalty or life in
prison in the circumstances mentioned above, the penalties
for rape/sexual assault and for trafficking in persons are
similar.

D. Prosecution statistics:

The GVN has only just begun providing statistics on arrests,
prosecutions, and convictions of traffickers. The
Department of Crime Statistics was established in the
Supreme People's Procuracy in August 2003. It provided its
first set of statistics to the USG in late February 2004.
The following is the number of cases against traffickers in
women and children (Articles 119 and 120 of the Penal Code)
in 2003. This data does not include cases involving those
guilty of trafficking in men for labor exploitation.

Indicted: 296 suspects in 173 cases;
Prosecuted: 224 suspects in 127 cases;
Convicted: 204 suspects in 115 cases.


According to the Department of Crime Statistics, the data on
actual sentences is still being collected and processed;
the Department hopes to provide this data later in 2004.

E. Information on traffickers and beneficiaries of
trafficking:

Although the GVN refers occasionally to the involvement of
organized crime in trafficking cases, there is no evidence
to date to indicate that international organized criminal
syndicates are involved in trafficking in Vietnam. Most of
the traffickers caught and prosecuted in Vietnam are small-
scale traffickers operating close to their home villages as
individuals or in small groups. In many cases, the
traffickers are either former trafficking victims
themselves, or relatives of the trafficking victims. In a
review of the cases of 428 people arrested for trafficking
in the north of Vietnam from 1999-2002, the MPS General
Criminal Department determined that 80 percent of the
perpetrators were unemployed, farmers, or itinerant vendors.
There have been several cases where "matchmaking" agencies
in Ho Chi Minh City have been accused of defrauding women in
the process of arranging marriages between men from Taiwan
or South Korea and Vietnamese women, but there is so far no
indication that trafficking is involved in these cases.

The proceeds of trafficking do not appear to concentrate in
any particular place or gravitate towards any particular
group in Vietnam, but instead are shared among the members
of small free-lance ad-hoc groups of traffickers, according
to UNODC.

F. GVN investigation of trafficking cases:

The GVN actively investigates trafficking cases, prosecutes,
and convicts traffickers. In general, the GVN does not use
active investigative techniques in any criminal
investigations, including narcotics cases. According to the
DEA, the Vietnamese police do not have the authority or the
capability to use wiretaps effectively in criminal cases.
Legally, they can conduct undercover operations, but MPS
states that it lacks implementing regulations spelling out
exactly what is legal and illegal in undercover operations,
and so does not yet conduct them. Vietnamese law does not
permit granting immunity from prosecution in exchange for
information, and American-style plea bargains do not happen.
In criminal cases, the judge does have the discretion to
mitigate sentencing if defendants have been cooperative
throughout the investigation and trial process, but a pre-
arranged bargain is not legal.

A project aimed at improving and refining the legislation
covering tools available to investigate and prosecute cases
is currently underway under the auspices of UNODC. MOJ is
the implementing agency for this project.

G. Training for GVN officials in TIP issues:

At the moment the GVN does not provide special training in
recognizing, investigating, or prosecuting instances of
trafficking. However, MPS is cooperating with UNODC on a
U.S.-funded project that is designed to train elements of
the Border Army in recognizing and investigating trafficking
at high-risk border crossing points in Quang Ninh and Tay
Ninh provinces.

H. International cooperation in TIP enforcement:

The GVN cooperates with other governments in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, but not
often. According to MPS, this has happened "less than ten
times." However, one case in April 2003 received a great
deal of press attention when Vietnam-Cambodia cooperation
resulted in the elimination of "several" trafficking rings
and long prison sentences handed down to some leaders. MPS
officials also cited two instances in which China and
Vietnam jointly (and successfully) investigated trafficking
cases, both in 2001. MFA officials have noted that, with
the assistance of UNICEF, Chinese and Vietnamese border
authorities meet "regularly" to exchange experience and
information, and to "work out plans to coordinate actions to
prevent cross-border smuggling of women and children."

I. GVN extradition of traffickers:

Vietnam can and does extradite foreigners who are charged
with trafficking in other countries, even in the absence of
extradition treaties, but only on a case-by-case basis.
According to Interpol-Vietnam, statistics for extradition
cases in 2003 and other years are unavailable, but the
number of trafficking-related extraditions in 2003 was "less
than ten."

MOJ officials noted, however, that Vietnam does not
extradite its own citizens anywhere for any purpose, in
accordance with the 1998 Citizenship Law.

J. Evidence of GVN tolerance of or involvement in TIP:

Vietnam suffers from endemic corruption, particularly at the
working levels of law enforcement. While cases of
trafficking-related corruption appear rarely if at all in
the press, NGOs and international organizations believe that
they exist. In addition, newspapers have reported several
high-profile cases of labor export-related trafficking in
recent months, and the arrests and convictions of the state-
owned enterprise employees involved.

According to an article in the "Great Solidarity" newspaper
(published by the Vietnam Fatherland Front) in February
2004, one trafficking victim was a cousin of the police
commander for the commune involved. The newspaper quoted a
Women's Union official who noted that in cases where a
family relationship existed between the authorities and the
traffickers, the law enforcement system broke down. The
article stated that, at the commune level, where most people
have at least some distant family relationship with each
other, the fact that many traffickers are people who return
to their hometowns from overseas makes law enforcement is
"more difficult". MPS representatives declined to comment
on general conditions in rural areas, but noted that the
professionalism and capabilities of law enforcement in rural
areas was usually lower than at the central level.

Post has no information indicating the existence of
trafficking-related corruption at the central level of the
GVN.

K. Steps to end official participation in TIP:

MPS officials stated that a combination of internal
administrative punishments and legal prosecution would be
used to combat any official corruption or participation in
trafficking. To date, the GVN has not prosecuted any cases
of corruption related to trafficking, but MPS officials
noted that there may have been cases where traffickers also
had some official capacity, especially at the local level.
Those cases would be contained in the aggregate indictment,
prosecution, and arrest statistics under Articles 119 and
120. The GVN has not analyzed that data to determine if any
of the individuals involved were public officials.

L. GVN ratification of international instruments:

ILO Convention 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate
action for the elimination of the worst forms of child
labor: Signed and ratified. Date of ratification: December
19, 2000.

ILO Conventions 29 and 105 on forced or compulsory labor:
Not yet signed.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution, and
child pornography: Signed and ratified. Date of
ratification: December 20, 2001.

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime: Not yet
signed, but according to UNODC and MOJ, Vietnam hopes to
ratify the UN Convention against Transnational Organized
Crime in 2004 and sign the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and
Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children
simultaneously.

5. PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS:

A. GVN assistance to victims:

In accordance with the Prime Minister's directive number
776/TTg, MOLISA has the responsibility for caring for
victims of trafficking. In practice, MOLISA interprets this
as the responsibility to "coordinate with relevant agencies
in providing guidance and directions to localities to
conduct job training and generation activities and to
provide medical treatment to victims of trafficking." The
effect of this interpretation is to shift primary
responsibility (financial and operational) for actually
caring for victims of trafficking back to the provincial and
local level. At the local level, it is usually the Women's
Union representatives who care for returnees. In
particularly hard-hit communes in provinces such as An
Giang, Lang Son, and Quang Ninh, local People's Committees
and Women's Unions work together to provide services and
care to returnees. The level of this care, in particular
medical care, depends on the political will and the
financial resources of the commune. Medical care is
generally rudimentary in the communities from which
trafficking victims originate, and so many victims likely do
not receive adequate care. There are no statistics
available on HIV/AIDS rates of infection among returned
trafficking victims.

B. GVN funding of NGOs providing services to victims:

Local governments often work with NGOs to provide support to
returned trafficking victims in the form of vocational
training, farmland, or capital for microcredit loans. In
addition, nearly all international organization and NGO anti-
trafficking programs have a GVN component, usually in the
form of an in-kind contribution such as office space,
personnel, or services.

C. Treatment of victims:

Trafficking victims in Vietnam are not detained, arrested,
or placed in protective custody against their will. The GVN
routinely sends prostitutes to "rehabilitation centers"
where they receive medical care and vocational training
during a period of incarceration, but trafficking victims
are not sent to these centers unless they are caught
engaging in prostitution after their return to Vietnam.
MOLISA officials noted that trafficking victims have the
opportunity to enter a prostitute rehabilitation center
voluntarily to take advantage of the medical care and
vocational training, but that this is very rare.

D. Rights of victims and treatment of returnees continued:

Post has no information indicating that returned trafficking
victims in Vietnam are treated as criminals. In all
official meetings, in conferences, in seminars, and in the
press, returnees are referred to as "victims." The Director
of MOJ's Legal Aid Agency has advocated changing the law
explicitly to acknowledge the victim status of returnees,
but so far this has not occurred.

E. Victim participation in investigations or suits against
traffickers:

According to the MOJ, trafficking victims in Vietnam are
encouraged to assist in the investigation and prosecution
process. They are also encouraged to file suit against the
traffickers. Article 31 of a new Criminal Procedures Code
(see section F below) explicitly states the right of any
Vietnamese citizen to make complaints or statements during
criminal proceedings.

Depending on the court ruling, if a ruling is against an
employer (for example, the employer is sentenced to
imprisonment), then compensation will be awarded to the
victim by the court, including back pay. Article 29 of the
new Criminal Procedures Code establishes the right to
compensation and the restoration of reputation and other
benefits for the victims of injustice, including
trafficking.

Victims may leave Vietnam in accordance with emigration
regulations.

F. Protection of victims and witnesses:

On November 26, 2003, the National Assembly passed the
Revised Criminal Procedures Code, which will take effect on
July 1, 2004. Point 3, Article 55 under the Code states:
"the witness has the right to request the government to
protect his life, health, reputation, dignity, assets and
other legitimate rights and interests when taking part in
the prosecutorial process."

According to Article 7 of the Code, "citizens have the
rights to have their life, health, reputation, dignity, and
assets protected by law. Any acts ruining life, health,
reputation, dignity, or assets will be dealt with by law.
If the life, health, reputation, dignity, or assets of the
victim, witness, or anyone else taking part in the
prosecutorial process, or their loved ones, are threatened,
competent authorities shall apply necessary measures for
protection as stipulated by the law." According to the
National Assembly's Law Department, in practice security and
police authorities have provided protection for victims and
witnesses, in most cases at their request. Also according
to the Law Department, in some exceptional cases, the GVN
automatically offers to provide protection, depending on the
seriousness and the importance of the case.

G. GVN specialized training for officials dealing with
trafficking, especially related to protection of victims:

The GVN does not in general provide specialized training but
has sent labor attaches to six of its embassies overseas
located in countries that have the largest number of
Vietnamese workers (ref E). These attaches are responsible
for working with the local authorities, the employers of
Vietnamese workers, and other Embassy staff members to
monitor labor conditions and intervene on behalf of
Vietnamese workers if necessary. These officers have access
to a fund that can be used to help Vietnamese workers who
find themselves in a difficult situation (such as an abusive
workplace, or a bankrupt employer) to go home. This
provides an important protection for workers against being
trafficked for labor. In addition, MFA officers assigned
to Taiwan receive special briefings on working with
Vietnamese women who are married to men from Taiwan, and are
instructed to "work with Taiwan authorities to give a
helping hand to the victims, to detect and take timely
action against traffickers in women under the cloak of
marriage brokers," according to MFA Consular Director
General Dinh.

H. GVN assistance to repatriated nationals who are victims
of trafficking:

In accordance with the Prime Minister's directive number
776/TTg, MOLISA has the responsibility for caring for
victims of trafficking. In practice, MOLISA interprets this
as the responsibility to "coordinate with relevant agencies
in providing guidance and directions to localities to
conduct job training and generation activities and to
provide medical treatment to victims of trafficking." The
effect of this interpretation is to shift primary
responsibility (financial and operational) for actually
caring for victims of trafficking back to the provincial and
local level. At the local level, it is usually the Women's
Union representatives that care for returnees. In
particularly hard-hit communes in provinces such as An
Giang, Lang Son, and Quang Ninh, local People's Committees
and Women's Unions work together to provide services and
care to returnees. The level of this care, in particular
medical care, depends on the financial resources of the
commune. Medical care is generally rudimentary in the
communities from which trafficking victims originate, and so
many victims do not get care.

I. NGOs working on trafficking in Vietnam and cooperation
with the GVN:

Major ongoing NGO projects in Vietnam include:

-- Oxfam Quebec, Save the Children UK, and Save the
Children Sweden: In the northeast (Bac Giang, Quang Ninh,
and Lang Son provinces), this project is aimed at awareness-
raising through the distribution of leaflets and local
economic development through the provision of training and
support for women starting their own businesses.
Counterpart agency: the Women's Union.

-- the ILO: The ILO's project is part of a subregional
project including all of the Mekong subregion countries. It
is located in Quang Ninh and Thanh Hoa provinces as well as
in Ho Chi Minh City. ILO focuses on: advocacy and awareness-
raising; capacity building in MOLISA, Border Guards, MPS,
and the Women's Union; and direct assistance. Counterpart
agencies are MOLISA, MPS, and the Women's Union.

-- IOM: The IOM is focused on protection of returnees.
Also a regional Mekong project, IOM has opened a shelter for
returned trafficked children in Ho Chi Minh City and
provides assistance to trafficking victims who want to
return to Vietnam. IOM hopes to expand the shelter project
to border provinces such as Tay Ninh (ref F). Counterpart
agencies: MOLISA and the Women's Union.

-- UNICEF has a Vietnam component to a subregional
antitrafficking project, which focuses on protection of
victims and institutional capacity building, as well as
legal reform. UNICEF's project is unique in that it
incorporates children themselves in project planning.
Counterparts: MPS and MOLISA.

-- A new UNODC project, with funding by the USG, focuses
on capacity building among law enforcement agencies, legal
reform leading to accession to UN protocols on trafficking,
and international law-enforcement cooperation. Counterpart:
MPS.

-- The Asia Foundation, also funded by the USG, focuses on
prevention of trafficking in Quang Ninh and An Giang
provinces. TAF works with Vietnamese NGOs and the Women's
Union to improve conditions and opportunities for women in
the provinces. Activities include training of women
political candidates and business managers, and provision of
microcredit loans for women starting small businesses.
Counterpart: the Women's Union.

-- the UN Interagency Project in Bangkok administers a USD
3 million(total project cost) project against trafficking in
women and children in the Mekong Sub-region, including
Vietnam, which attempts to collect data and to improve
internal coordination among GVN agencies. The UNIAP is
currently on hiatus in Vietnam pending the GVN's approval of
its "second phase" projects. Counterpart: MOLISA.

These organizations altogether are spending less than 5
million dollars annually in Vietnam. Most projects are
small-scale and focused mainly on raising awareness of
trafficking in at-risk communities, with some additional
efforts to address "root causes" and protect returning
victims of trafficking. The major exception is the UNODC
project. In all cases, the projects have a GVN partner
organization and draw heavily on donated staff from the
Women's Union, MOLISA, and local Departments of Labor,
Invalids, and Social Affairs, and in some cases MPS. The
GVN's contribution to these projects is nearly always in-
kind, in the form of office space, personnel, equipment and
supplies if available.

POC AND TIME SPENT ON REPORT:

POC: Benjamin Moeling, Political Officer
(moelingbw@state.gov) tel: 84-4-772-1500x2216 fax:84-4-772-
2614.

Time spent on report:
FSN-9, 2 employees, 20 hours
FSN-8, 8 hours
FO-03, 36 hours
FO-01, 2 hours
FE-MC, 1 hour
PORTER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

UN News: ‘Things Have To Change’ Canada’s Trudeau Declares Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that the world must change, as multilateral systems established decades ago are not working as they should, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada told the UN General Assembly on Friday. “The world is in crisis, and ... More>>

Assange's Hearing: Latest Observations From Court

Despite severe restrictions on observers, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is the only NGO that has gained access to the hearing, and we’ve managed to monitor proceedings on most days. We will continue to do so whenever possible. Yesterday I was in court ... More>>

ILO: Impact On Workers Of COVID-19 Is ‘catastrophic’

COVID-19 has had a “catastrophic” impact on workers, the head of the International Labour Organization ( ILO ) said on Wednesday, with lost working hours higher than originally forecast, and equivalent to 495 million full-time jobs globally in the ... More>>

UN: WHO Warns Against Potential Ebola Spread In DR Congo And Beyond

Ebola is spreading in a western province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), raising fears that the disease could reach neighbouring Republic of Congo and even the capital, Kinshasa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday. ... More>>