Cablegate: New Zealand Tip Report: Lessons Learned

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





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU/NF) Following the turbulent June 14 release of the
2004 TIP report, which named New Zealand for the first time
(ref a), Embassy Wellington would like to add its strong
support to the recommendations contained in Embassy
Singapore's recent excellent cable (ref b). While the GNZ is
hypersensitive to any perceived criticism of its human rights
record (and a negative response to the TIP report was fully
anticipated), the language used in the New Zealand narrative
of the TIP report directly undermined the credibility of the
report and negatively affected the USG's image with the NZ
public. The report, as released, allowed the GNZ and
domestic media to shift off-message from the fight against
trafficking. The Prime Minister, other senior government
officials and local commentators instead challenged the
credibility of the TIP report's NZ-specific narrative.

2. (SBU/NF) Drawing on ref b, Post would like to offer its
own observations and suggestions for improving the TIP report
format, making the report's narrative more accurate and
thereby allowing us to hold a more constructive dialogue on
ways and means of combating trafficking in our host country.

-- First and foremost, embassies must draft the initial
country narratives, as is done for the Human Rights Report
and the International Religious Freedom Report, with far
greater success.

- Drafting the country narrative of the TIP report at post
would significantly reduce the time commitment currently
required. This year, post first sought to address the
extensive questionnaire provided, and then Post and the Desk
were obliged to dedicate substantial amount of time to
editing and attempting to make G/TIP's initial narrative

- As a SEP Post, we are fully cognizant of the need to
prioritize increasing demands on limited resources. In New
Zealand, however, the P/E officer tasked with drafting the
HRR is already in contact with the same Government agencies
and NGOs used for the TIP Report, and is best placed to
address questions on both topics with the same set of
interlocutors. As over 60 percent of information included in
the questionnaire is not used in the report, Post could
reduce the amount of time used outlining legislation or
policies that do not change from year to year.

- Another major concern for Post was a perceived attitude
among G/TIP that New Zealand's report and tier designation
should somehow follow the report and tier designation of
Australia -- despite the vastly different scale and type of
human trafficking concerns in both countries.

-- Inclusion in the report is currently based on a
Department-set threshold of 100 individuals. In drafting
answers to G/TIP's initial questionnaire, Post was unable to
find solid evidence of over 100 cases of human trafficking in
the 2003 calendar year. G/TIP's decision to include NZ was
therefore based on a single multi-year study that found
evidence of child prostitution. We are unaware of any other
country having been listed solely on the grounds of internal
childhood prostitution. While this does trigger NZ's
inclusion in the report by the definitions of our
legislation, it is not a definition accepted by New
Zealanders. They consider us to be "stretching" the commonly
accepted definition of trafficking to include NZ.

-- The TIP Report should be made as inclusive as possible,
making it a global report that incorporates an assessment of
every country in the world - again, as is the case with the
Department's annual Human Rights report.

-- The tier system provoked the GoNZ concerns to focus on how
to &get off the list,8 instead of how to improve their
fight against trafficking. By including all countries, the
focus would hopefully return to the content of the report,
and not the Tier designation or who is and is not included.

4. (SBU/NF) Focus on the positive and means of best
advancing country practices in the fight against trafficking.

- Make a list of Best Practices available to reporting
officers. For example, New Zealand has proved extremely
flexible in ending visa-free regimes for countries that are
suspected of trafficking victims to NZ. In addition, despite
the lack of a national coordinator, NZ has been a leader in
information sharing between domestic law enforcement and
social agencies.
- Provide a set of recommendations for reference on ways
countries in the report might better address their
trafficking situation. Such recommendations would provide
valuable topics with which to engage host governments, media
and the wider public at the time of the report's release.
For instance, the New Zealand narrative of the report
contains one recommendation ) the creation of a national
coordinator for trafficking issues. Unfortunately,
discussion of this useful step was lost as New Zealand
officials and media generally dismissed the NZ narrative
because of choice of language used.

5. (SBU/NF) Post would like to reiterate its strong
commitment to the principles underlying the production of an
annual TIP Report. We believe that this report is part of a
process that does not begin and end with the release of the
report, and looks forward to effectively contributing to the
fight against trafficking.

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