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Cablegate: Vietnam: Interim Tip Assessment

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

Refs: A. State 228459 B. Hanoi 2921 C. Hanoi 3021

1. (U) This is the Vietnam mission's interim assessment of
Vietnam's anti-Trafficking in Persons performance according
to the three questions posed in reftel A.


2. (SBU) The Procuracy's new statistics office only
assembles statistics on prosecutions, arrests and
convictions twice per year. As a result we have only been
able to review the January-June figures for 2004. We took
the whole-year numbers for 2002 and 2003 and divided them in
half to provide a comparison for the half-year 2004 data we
received. In TIP cases involving women (disaggregated using
the section of Vietnamese TIP law dealing specifically with
women) that comparison showed a drop of 31 percent in the
number of cases investigated; 19 percent in the number of
cases prosecuted; and one percent in the number of
convictions compared to 2003. In cases involving children,
the comparison showed a drop of 28 percent in the number of
cases investigated; 14 percent in the number of cases
prosecuted; and 6 percent in the number of cases resulting
in convictions. (The number of actual defendants convicted,
however, rose by a few percent.)

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CY 2002 CY 2003 Jan-Jun 2004
Cases 117 128 44
Suspects 200 217 57

Cases 77 92 37
Suspects 125 168 55

Cases 84 85 42
Suspects 134 158 62


CY 2002 CY 2003 Jan-Jun 2004
Cases 45 45 16
Suspects 66 77 18

Cases 33 35 15
Suspects 48 56 20

Cases 31 30 14
Suspects 49 46 24

3. (SBU) Vietnam's capacity to collect accurate statistical
data is limited, and its ability to analyze that data nearly
nonexistent. As a result, we cannot authoritatively explain
the drop in investigations, prosecutions and convictions for
trafficking in persons we have identified based on the
statistics supplied by the Supreme People's Procuracy.

Analysis of the numbers

4. (SBU) The Supreme People's Procuracy tells us that the
smaller number of investigations and prosecutions is a sign
of progress, indicating that GVN efforts to combat
trafficking have been successful. We suggest the following
alternative possible explanations for the decline:

-- Increased awareness in Ministry of Public Security (MPS)
units tasked with investigating TIP. The United Nations
Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) believes that as
understanding of TIP has improved in the key investigative
units charged with combating trafficking, MPS has been able
to differentiate better between trafficking and standard
alien smuggling. We find this a credible explanation,
because the number of convictions for trafficking has not
declined along with the number of investigations and
prosecutions. This tells us that MPS has become more
efficient and concentrates its trafficking investigative
resources on those cases likely to result in a conviction.
A sustained rate of convictions in the second half of 2004
for trafficking even considering the lower number of
investigations and prosecutions would support this analysis.
-- Greater care taken by traffickers. UNODC also believes
that the increased enforcement attention on traffickers has
caused the traffickers to work harder to avoid getting
caught. According to Troels Vester, UNODC program officer
in charge of the USG-funded project "Strengthening of the
Legal and Law Enforcement Institutions in Preventing and
Combating Trafficking in Persons in Viet Nam," in previous
years, before the GVN's focus on trafficking, traffickers
operated with impunity and did not bother to conceal
themselves or their activities. Now, Vester says, they are
forced to take precautions and make it more difficult for
the police to arrest and prosecute them. This may account
for some of the reduction, he added.

-- Inadequate data collection. MPS Colonel Hoang Van Lai
(protect) noted that the statistics on trafficking
investigations and prosecutions come from investigating
offices throughout Vietnam, and added that the protocol for
collecting and reporting the data is not well established or
understood. Underreporting of investigations is likely, Lai
said. By contrast, data on convictions comes from the
courts, which have been reporting to the Supreme People's
Procuracy for a long time. The data on convictions is
likely to be more accurate, Lai predicted.

Question B: National Plan of Action

5. (U) As reported reftel B, Vietnam has developed and
issued a national action plan and has begun to implement it.
Vietnamese press reported that on October 29, the Prime
Minister signed a decree establishing the 11-member steering
board for the action plan, to be overseen by Deputy Prime
Minister Pham Gia Khiem. The establishment of the steering
board was a key step in implementing the action plan.

Question C: Protections for exported laborers

6. (SBU) Since 2001 there have been no reported cases from
any source of Vietnamese laborers being trafficked by labor
export companies or any other entity. The GVN has greatly
increased the number of workers sent abroad (2004 totals are
approaching 60,000) and has also reworked the laws and
regulations dealing with labor export. As a result of
negative publicity generated in a spate of cases in the 2001-
2003 timeframe involving unscrupulous labor export companies
who defrauded workers, failed to pay them owed wages, or
abandoned them overseas after the bankruptcy of the host
enterprise, the GVN has stationed labor attaches in the nine
top labor export receiving countries to look after the
welfare of the workers and assist in resolving workplace
disputes. The Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social
Affairs (MOLISA) has increased authority over the labor
export companies and has exercised that authority in
cooperation with MPS to impose penalties and sanctions
against labor export companies who have violated laws or
regulations or otherwise cheated workers. This has included
convictions and jail sentences for individuals using labor
export companies to defraud workers.

7. (SBU) Workers have also been able to use the law to
negotiate settlements from labor export companies in cases
where promised jobs fell through or workers were otherwise
dissatisfied. In one widely reported case in June, 2004,
workers sent to Malaysia by state-owned labor export giant
Interserco (under MOLISA) were able to use Decree 81 (the
2003 major modification to the labor code dealing with labor
export) and the intervention of the Department of Overseas
Labor of MOLISA to force Interserco to compensate them for
their costs after the promised labor contract was not
honored on the Malaysian side. While the main thrust of GVN
efforts to clean up the labor export system has been to try
to prevent fraud, these efforts have also had the effect of
reducing the risk of labor trafficking. Reftel C addresses
the changes in the labor export system and the effects of
those changes in more detail.
8. (SBU) In addition to the achievements on prosecution, the
national plan of action and the implementation of the labor
law, the GVN also signed on to the Coordinated Mekong
Ministerial Initiative Against Trafficking (COMMIT) MOU on
October 29. China, Cambodia, Burma, Thailand, Laos and
Vietnam all participated in a regional UN-hosted conference
in Rangoon and signed the MOU. Areas of practical
cooperation identified in the MOU include: creation of a
seamless network for repatriation and reintegration of
victims between the six countries; networking of specialist
police units from different countries to build cooperation
in investigations and prosecutions; support for a regional
training facility to build capacity for government officials
to understand and combat trafficking; and improved
extradition procedures. The next step in the COMMIT process
is to hold a senior officials meeting to agree on a
"Subregional Plan of Action" to implement the MOU. Vietnam
has agreed to host that meeting in the first quarter of


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