Cablegate: Turkey's First Tip Victim Shelter: Secretary

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

REF: A. ANKARA 03705
B. ANKARA 01233

1. Summary: Secretary Powell and FM Gul witnessed the
signing of a protocol that will lead to the opening of
Turkey's first shelter for trafficking in persons victims
later this month. The signing ceremony, which attracted
significant attention and publicity, publicly committed the
Turkish government and the Istanbul Municipality to support
this initiative. Although a modest step in Turkey's
fledgling efforts to combat TIP, the shelter and the enhanced
cooperation between Turkish authorities and NGOs represent a
sea change in official attitudes on this issue. USG pressure
has helped focus GOT attention on its anti-TIP programs, but
tight budgets and competing priorities will likely impede the
long-term progress that can only come from substantial
investments in training, assistance, and public education.
End Summary.

TIP Shelter Signing Ceremony

2. On June 29 Secretary Powell witnessed the signing of a
protocol between the Istanbul Municipality and Turkish NGO
Human Resources Development Foundation (HRDF) setting the
stage for the opening of Turkey's first-ever shelter for
victims of trafficking in persons. The Secretary, in
Istanbul for the NATO Summit, made remarks at the signing
ceremony, along with Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul. The
event put the Municipality's support for the shelter on the
public record, as it committed itself to provide a property
to house the program. The municipality's contribution, a
result at least in part of USG pressure and subsequent MFA
and Ministry of Interior intervention, marks an important
milestone in GOT anti-trafficking protection efforts.

3. The presence of the Secretary and FM Gul at the signing
ceremony attracted widespread media attention (Ref A), and
was an excellent opportunity for public education about the
trafficking in persons issue in Turkey. The Secretary
pointed out that the protection of human liberty and dignity
is part of NATO's mandate, and that NATO countries had
developed the first ever anti-trafficking policy by an
Alliance. FM Gul stated that Turkey is committed to the
worldwide effort against trafficking; Turkey's legal
framework already reflects this and now the country is taking
concrete measures to implement these laws. Efforts by the
American-Turkish Council have resulted in contributions from
American companies toward the shelter's operating costs, and
two local representatives of Altria/Philip Morris were on
hand to present a check for $45,000 to HRDF. Municipality
officials, HRDF board members, the Istanbul representative of
the International Organization on Migration (IOM) and
numerous journalists also attended the event.

GOT-NGO Anti-TIP Cooperation Improving

4. The GOT (Ministry of Interior) signed agreements in the
last several months with HRDF and IOM to cooperate on a
number of anti-TIP efforts (Ref B, post's submission to 2004
TIP report). Turkish police, upon identifying potential TIP
victims when carrying out raids, now contact HRDF and IOM so
that these organizations can provide medical and legal
assistance. IOM Istanbul rep Murat Kalkan told us recently
that the police alerted them to 20 TIP cases in the first two
months following conclusion of their agreement this spring
(all involved Ukrainian and Moldovan women in Adana, Ankara,
and Istanbul). HRDF Executive Director Demet Gural confirmed
they are also enjoying good cooperation with police officials
in this regard. To date, however, there has been no place
for TIP victims to stay and await assistance, and too often
victims have been forced to leave the country before
receiving the help they need. According to Gural, the new
shelter facility, due to open later this month, will be able
to accommodate 12-15 women. The municipality has paid a
year's rent in advance for the facility, which will be housed
-- at least for its first year of existence -- in a duplex
apartment in Istanbul. The municipality is also covering all
utilities. HRDF will be seeking a larger, more permanent,
state-owned property to house the shelter starting in its
second year of operation.

5. The shelter is partially furnished, and one of HRDF's
founding members has donated additional furniture and kitchen
appliances to meet its immediate needs. Embassy Ankara has
organized a clothes and supplies drive that will provide
additional resources to the shelter. HRDF's project
coordinator, Dr. Muhtar Cokar, will work along with
psychotherapist Serra Akkaya and legal advisor Hasan Kemal
Elban in implementing the project. HRDF is currently
recruiting for a full-time, tri-lingual (Turkish, Russian,
Moldovan) "cultural mediator" who will live in the shelter
and staff the shelter's hotline. The shelter will be
equipped with security cameras, purchased with a portion of
the funds contributed by Philip Morris. As soon as the
cultural mediator is identified, the shelter will be open for
business; HRDF staff estimates that all will be in place by
the end of July.

Regional Efforts

6. On a separate note, HRDF is involved in a September
conference on border trafficking of minors scheduled to take
place in Edirne (on the Turkish border with Bulgaria). The
conference is designed for Turkish and Bulgarian NGOs and law
enforcement agencies, but HRDF is looking for funding to
bring Moldovan participants as well. AMCONGEN Istanbul has
been in touch with AMEMB Chisinau regarding possible funding
sources. This type of regional cooperation among NGOs seems
to be the norm for HRDF. When visiting HRDF in May, two
visiting Moldovan NGO representatives were on their way back
home via Istanbul after having been in Dubai assisting in the
repatriation of a Moldovan TIP victim. From July 16-30,
HRDF's Armenian NGO partner, Hope and Help, is due to visit
Istanbul, Ankara, Trabzon, Hopa, Rize and Antalya. In
Istanbul, Hope and Help will meet with Gural and AMCONGEN TIP
officer. The NGO will then meet with MFA TIP officials in
Ankara. At each of their stops, Hope and Help
representatives have scheduled meetings with partner NGOs,
Georgian and Russian Consulate officials, TIP officers from
the Turkish National Police, and Armenian victims of

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