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Cablegate: National Assembly Leader Reacts to Tip Report

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 002404

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR G/TIP, EAP/BCLTV, EAP/RSP, INL/AAE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM KWMN KCRM ELAB VM OMIG TIP ASEAN
SUBJECT: NATIONAL ASSEMBLY LEADER REACTS TO TIP REPORT

REF: State 185426

1. Summary. On July 28, Madame Ton Nu Thi Ninh, Vice
Chairwoman of the External Relations Committee of the
National Assembly (NA), made an unannounced appearance at
the USAID-funded Development Alternative Initiative (DAI)
meeting in Hanoi. Madame Ninh expressed the GVN's support
for anti-trafficking programs in the country and raised the
TIP report. She noted both the report's lack of a U.S.
profile and failure to mention the GVN's development of an
evolving national plan, and stressed the benefits of
"intermediary agencies" over national law in combating
trafficking. End Summary.

DAI meeting
-----------

2. The USAID/DAI meeting in Hanoi brought together
representatives of NGOs working on trafficking to gather
information and statistics for the purpose of creating a
Geographic Information Systems map of trafficking activities
in Vietnam, one of six countries in the Mekong sub-region
portion of the mapping project. The DAI group will hold
another meeting in HCMC "shortly."

Madame Ninh's Speech
--------------------

3. Addressing the 30-person meeting, Madame Ninh recalled a
visit to the Washington State earlier in the year with a
delegation of Vietnamese women government leaders.
Trafficking was one of the items on their agenda. In
addition to meeting several NGOs working to combat TIP, the
delegation also met with Washington State Representative
Velma Veloria, an advocate for anti-trafficking programs and
legislation. During that visit, Madame Ninh had read the
2004 G/TIP report. She noted the irony of a congressionally
mandated worldwide report lacking a profile on the U.S.,
particularly considering that the U.S. was a major
destination country for trafficking victims. Madame Ninh
questioned why the U.S. should "escape scrutiny and not rank
itself" according to the criteria set forth in the tier
system.

4. Mdm. Ninh did not dispute Vietnam's Tier Two ranking and
said she believed the report to be a "rather well-informed
summary," but she added that she wanted to address some of
the criticisms of Vietnam laid out therein.

Evolving National Law Against TIP
---------------------------------

5. Madame Ninh pointed out that Vietnam now had a national
plan to fight TIP, something the report said was lacking.
Currently evolving, the national plan designated the
Ministry of Public Security as the focal agency for fighting
trafficking. Deliberation regarding the lead agency had
been difficult, Madame Ninh said, as each agency had its own
merits and drawbacks. Creating a supra-agency to address
TIP seemed inefficient at this time, she continued. The GVN
currently had the vision, program, and political will to
create an anti-trafficking national plan within its current
institutional structure, Madame Ninh said.

6. Madame Ninh also acknowledged that Vietnam did not have
a national law specifically addressing trafficking, but said
that this was because there was not an immediate need for
it. Addressing the Vietnamese NGOs in the meeting, Ninh
said, "if you regard this as crucial, inform the National
Assembly. The onus is on you." That said, seeking the
attention of the National Assembly on the issue would
require a strong case, as the Assembly was inundated with
requests on a variety of issues, she warned.

7. Instead of new laws, Madame Ninh suggested that the
crucial need in Vietnam was for information campaigns and
programs to work directly with victims. The absence of a
national law against trafficking did not impede the power of
the Vietnamese people and the GVN to combat trafficking, she
said. International efforts were also possible without new
legislation, she noted: the Parliaments of six countries in
SE Asia planned to meet in September in Cambodia to discuss
creating "do-able" guidelines for cooperation in addressing
cross-border trafficking.

The Need for "Intermediary Agencies"
------------------------------------

8. Sharing her own experience with workers who had
encountered difficulties overseas, Madame Ninh described
meeting a group of Vietnamese women at the airport in
Bangkok. Without reason, the women were ordered by their
Taiwan employer to suddenly return home. Some of the women
had worked in Taiwan for approximately eighteen months; one
woman, however, had worked for only a month. She was
distressed because she did not have the money to repay the
15 million-dong (approximately USD 950) debt incurred while
making arrangements to go to Taiwan. The story had
amplified the need to focus on helping victims rather than
writing new laws, Madame Ninh said. Another group of
Vietnamese women had approached her about contributing their
"small amount of savings" to reduce trafficking to Taiwan,
but Ninh said she had advised the women to use the money to
set up micro-credit programs, call centers, and other
support organizations in Taiwan. Often, the only points of
contact for Vietnamese abroad were the foreign companies who
had hired them, she said.

Recent GVN attention to TIP
---------------------------

9. Ninh said that recent government attention to TIP in
Vietnam was due to the lobbying efforts of prominent former
government leaders: Former Vice (State) President Nguyen Thi
Binh; Former Chair of the Committee for Protection and Care
of Children, Madame Tran Thi Thanh; and Former Assistant to
Madame Nguyen Thi Binh in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Nguyen Ngoc Dung. Madame Dung, now the Vice-President of
the Ho Chi Minh City Child Protection Association, strongly
believed public and social activities should complement each
other, Ninh said.

Back-and-Forth between Ruchira Cupta (DAI) and Madame Ninh
--------------------------------------------- --------------

10. Ms. Ruchira Cupta, the lead person for DAI, explained
that the USG had a separate process for evaluating
trafficking in the U.S. through the 2000 Trafficking Victims
Protection Act. This separate Congressional mandate,
coupled with the TIP report's function as a report on non-
U.S. trafficking, were the reasons for the omission of the
U.S. profile, Cupta said. Ninh suggested the inclusion of
some sort of executive summary in the TIP report. Madame
Ninh noted that doing so would make the U.S. "look better,"
and that the omission of a U.S. profile made the report seem
"prejudiced."

T Visa Program Sustainable?
---------------------------

11. Ms. Cupta also pointed out that the Victims Protection
Act did indeed afford TIP victims protection. Trafficking
victims were not considered illegal immigrants, Cupta
explained. Through the T visa program, they could remain
legally in the U.S. and ultimately apply for U.S.
citizenship. The first T Visa recipient was now a U.S.
citizen, Cupta said. Therefore, "laws can make a
difference."

12. Madame Ninh acknowledged the positive aspects of the
TVPRA and T Visa program, but said there should be no need
to "dangle U.S. citizenship" in front of trafficking
victims, "as some kind of reward for migrating to the U.S.
for work." U.S. citizenship as protection was not
"sustainable," Ninh said.

13. A sustainable solution, Ninh suggested, would be to
send the trafficking victims home, give them job training,
and reintegrate them into their communities. According the
Ninh, State Rep. Veloria of WA had relayed to the Vietnam
delegation a story of one Viet Kieu sponsoring 6-7 workers
and providing the people with jobs in America.
Acknowledging the person's act of kindness, Mdm. Ninh opined
nonetheless that such a pattern also was not sustainable.

14. (SBU) Comment: Madame Ninh is by no means the government
of Vietnam, and her point of view does not represent an
official response to the 2004 TIP report. Her acceptance at
face value of the statements in the report should also not
be taken as representing the GVN. Madame Ninh is not an
expert on the trafficking situation in Vietnam. What is
typical of Vietnamese official reaction to U.S reports like
this one is the complaint that the USG does not rate itself.
It is good to note that at least some elements of the GVN
leadership have read and digested the report, and not
rejected its points outright. We can build on this
acceptance in our efforts to convince the GVN to implement
our suggested action plan (reftel).
BURGHARDT

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