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Cablegate: Venezuela's Fifth Annual Tip Report Submission

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 08 CARACAS 000624

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, WHA/PPC
NSC FOR CBARTON
USAID
DEPT OF JUSTICE
DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
DEPT OF LABOR
DEPT OF TREASURY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM KCRM KWMN KFRD ELAB SMIG ASEC PREF
SUBJECT: VENEZUELA'S FIFTH ANNUAL TIP REPORT SUBMISSION

REF: A) STATE 273089 B)CARACAS 3124

1. (SBU) Per reftel A instructions, the following is post's
input for the fifth annual anti-trafficking in persons (TIP)
report. Political officer Carolina Hidea is the point of
contact. Telephone: 58-212-907-8493; Fax: 58-212-907-8033;
Email: hideac@state.gov. Hours spent compiling the report:
54.

2. (SBU) Post's sources of information are reliable, but
generally unable to provide concrete or comprehensive
information about the TIP problem in Venezuela. Poloff
collected the examples of trafficking cited in this report
separately at each ministry, agency, or office, so the
information may not be exhaustive. Poloff contacted the
following government officials: a former prosecutor for
identity and citizenship fraud and TIP expert for the
Attorney General's office (not for distribution); Luis
Jansen, identity and citizenship fraud prosecutor; Ana
Cazzadore, Director of International Crime, Drugs and
Corruption at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA); Criminal
Investigative Police (CICPC) Interpol Division commissioner
Henry Matos; and Maria del Mar Alvarez, Women's Right's
Ombudsman, National Women's Institute (INAMUJER). In
addition, Ambassador has discussed generally with Vice
Foreign Minister Hernandez and Ambassador to the U.S. Alvarez.

3. (SBU) International organizations providing information
were UNICEF, UNHCR, and the International Organization for
Migration (IOM). Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs)
consulted were AMBAR, an NGO focusing on alternatives for
sexual workers, sexual health and education; the Center for
Women's Studies (CEM) at the Central University; and (not for
distribution) Merlys Mosquera, National Director of the
Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS). The Coalition Against
Trafficking in Women was not active in 2004 and could provide
no information.

------------------------
Paragraph 18 - Overview
------------------------

4. Since announcement of Venezuela being a TIPS Tier 3
country last year, GOV has:

-Activated an interagency anti-trafficking working group.

-Held a joint MFA-IOM conference on trafficking for official
and NGO participants.

-Passed a law that makes smuggling and some forms of
trafficking a crime.

-Arrested two suspected foreign traffickers.

-Worked with Interpol on three foreign trafficking cases.

-Repatriated four trafficking victims to Venezuela.

-Tasked all Venezuelan consulates to report on Venezuelan
trafficking cases.

A. (SBU) The GOV, international organizations, and
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have no estimates about
the magnitude of the trafficking in persons (TIP) problem in
Venezuela. No trafficking cases were reported to the
National Institute for Women (INAMUJER) or the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs (MFA). The Criminal Investigative Police
(CICPC) Interpol Division reported working on three cases in
2004 of Venezuelan women trafficked to other countries for
commercial sex purposes. One case also included foreign women
transited through Venezuela with fraudulently obtained
Venezuelan documents. UNHCR also reported four children
along the border sold to the Colombian guerrillas as soldiers
or sexual workers in 2004. From dispersed and anecdotal
information gathered from the GOV, international
organizations and NGOs, Venezuela like other Latin American
countries is likely to be a country of origin, transit and
destination for trafficked persons. Press and anecdotal
information suggest that the size and scope of the crime are
similar to or less than those in most other Latin American
countries. GOV officials and NGOs say women and children in
Venezuela are more vulnerable to being trafficked then men.

B. (SBU) Based on past experience and anecdotes, persons
trafficked to or through Venezuela are most likely from
China, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and the Dominican Republic,
according to a former prosecutor and MFA official Cazzadore.
The NGO AMBAR reports Guyanese and Brazilian women and
adolescent girls are trafficked and smuggled to mining and
petroleum towns for prostitution. The Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) worked with the Venezuelan military
intelligence (DIM) to arrest two Indian nationals using
Venezuela and Curacao as transit points to move people from
India and other countries, with the U.S. often the final
destination. DHS requested the removal of the two alleged
alien smugglers to the U.S. for smuggling charges. DHS has
not yet determined if the alleged smugglers are to be charged
with trafficking. Based on the three CICPC cases in 2004,
destination countries for trafficking victims transiting
through or originating in Venezuela are Spain, Mexico and
Trinidad and Tobago. According to a former prosecutor and
Cazzadore, other destination countries could include Italy,
Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S.

C. (SBU) There is insufficient information to make a
determination about changes in the direction or extent of
trafficking.

D. (SBU) The MFA asked consular officers at embassies abroad
to report any cases of trafficking in 2004; not one case was
reported. The GOV reported no research or surveys planned or
underway to document trafficking in persons. GOV has also
indicated that should it initiate such research, it would not
share with the USG.

E. (SBU) The GOV did not report any cases of persons
trafficked to Venezuela. However, the Jesuit Refugee
Service's National Director Merlys Mosquera noted that child
prostitution exists along the border with Colombia.
Venezuelan and Colombian girls as young as 12 work in
brothels or other prostitution situations. UNICEF also
reported four cases of children sold to the guerrilla by
their families along the Colombian border. Mosquera
acknowledged, but did not confirm, rumors that parents may be
selling or encouraging young men to work for Colombian
guerrilla groups. Along the border with Brazil and Guyana,
victims are trafficked or cross the border themselves to work
as child prostitutes or laborers in mining camps according to
AMBAR.

F. (SBU) In the three trafficking cases the Criminal
Investigative Police (CICPC) Interpol Division worked in
2004, the alleged traffickers used newspaper or printed
advertisements and promises of lucrative job offers in
foreign countries to target young women. According to AMBAR,
young women from poorer rural areas of Venezuela are also
trafficked to Caracas with promises of jobs as models,
dancers or waitresses; educational opportunities; or promises
of employment.

G. (SBU) In January 2004, the MFA initiated a 22-person
interdepartmental working group that meets approximately once
a month to coordinate efforts to combat trafficking. The
committee finished and approved a national action plan that
designates the responsibilities or actions of each ministry
or agency in June 2004. The National Assembly approved a
Naturalization and Immigration Law May 24, 2004, which came
into force November 20, 2004. The new law can be used to
prosecute some trafficking crimes and specifically penalizes
those who exploit illegal labor, promise false employment or
engage in alien smuggling, with four to eight years in
prison.

The MFA, Ministry of Interior and Justice (MIJ), and Attorney
General's office made efforts to raise public official's
awareness of trafficking through trafficking awareness
training. The International Organization for Migration (IOM)
organized half-day trafficking awareness presentations for
approximately 45 officials each from the MFA and MIJ on
January 25, 2005, at the ministries, request. The Attorney
General's office also held several trafficking awareness
presentations for prosecutors and staff in 2004. On January
27-28, the MFA hosted a two-day anti-trafficking conference
by the IOM and OAS for government officials including the
MFA, MIJ, Attorney General's office, National Guard, police,
INAMUJER, and Ministry of Labor, of Education, and of Health.
The IOM estimated that 170-200 government employees and a
few NGOs attended the conference, about three times the
numbers they originally anticipated (septel). UNICEF
organized and led a three-day human rights for emergency
situations training conference for the MIJ February 16-18,
2005. The conference for the MIJ and civil protection
agencies was directed at helping Venezuelan authorities
respond appropriately to the flooding emergency that has
gripped the country since early February and included an
anti-trafficking unit.

The CICPC Interpol Division is working on three international
human trafficking cases involving 14 women that were reported
to the police in 2004. In August 2004, two Venezuelan women
who had been trafficked to Mexico with false promises of jobs
notified family members that they were being forced into
prostitution. The women were repatriated, but the CICPC has
been unable to identify or locate the man in Venezuela
responsible for convincing the women to travel to Mexico.
Since June 2004, seven women have been identified as
trafficked from Venezuela to Spain via France. Five of the
seven women were Dominican nationals who had illegally
obtained Venezuelan documents. The two Venezuelan victims
were repatriated and claimed the man who had publicly
advertised modeling and dancing jobs for young women in Spain
trafficked 30 women to Spain in three months. However,
according to the CICPC the trafficker is a Spanish dual
national and has not been reported returning to Venezuela.

In September 2004, family members reported to the police that
a young Venezuelan woman along with four other women from
Venezuela's rural interior had been trafficked to Chaguama
Island, Trinidad and Tobago, by sea with false promises of
employment. The victim reported to family members that she
was being forced into prostitution and would have to pay USD
800 to be allowed return to Venezuela. Trinidad and Tobago
police were unable to find the victims at the bar-brothel on
Chaguama Island where family members said she was working.
Venezuelan police are working to identify the four remaining
trafficking victims. One minor who had been with the group
was stopped by a Sucre State law enforcement officer and
prohibited from traveling because she was underage.
H. (SBU) There is no hard evidence or accusations of
government officials facilitating, being complicit in or
condoning trafficking. However, corruption among immigration,
identification, customs and border patrol officials is
widespread and could facilitate trafficking.

I. (SBU) A low awareness of the problem, a lack of qualified
personnel, and the short period of time since the GOV began
an anti-trafficking working group in January 2004 is a
limitation. The lack of concrete information about the
trafficking problem also hinders GOV efforts. The lack of a
national immigration and identification database limits the
information that can be compiled nationwide to identify and
understand Venezuela's trafficking situation. Corruption and
the ease with which fraudulent passports, identity cards, and
birth certificates could be obtained is also a problem. A
former prosecutor who dealt with identity theft and
trafficking said that approximately 90 percent of the
immigration or identification offices in Venezuela are
isolated technologically, have no direct supervision, and
lack funding. He also pointed out that approximately 90
percent of immigration or identification personnel are
undereducated and underpaid. The result, he said, was
inefficiency and corruption that led to illegal immigration
and identity theft and hampered efforts against trafficking
in persons.

J. (SBU) The anti-trafficking working group composed of the
MFA, MIJ, Attorney General's Office, MOD, Ministry of
Education, Ministry of Health, INAMUJER, the Women's Rights
Ombudsman, and the National Children's and Adolescence
Protection Counsel meets approximately once a month to
coordinate efforts and evaluate progress on a national
anti-trafficking work plan.

K. (SBU) Prostitution is not illegal in Venezuela, nor is it
formally legalized. Article 389 of the Penal Code makes
"facilitating" prostitution or the corruption of minors, as
is the case for brothel owners or pimps, punishable by three
to 12 months' imprisonment. If the offense is repeated, the
sentence increases to three to 18 months.

--------------------------
Paragraph 19 - Prevention
--------------------------

5.

A. (SBU) Some GOV officials in the anti-trafficking working
group and in other government agencies are aware of
trafficking in persons as an international problem. Some
acknowledge it is a problem in Venezuela. No one can,
however, estimate the scale or scope since no national
statistics, databases, surveys or research about the problem
are known to exist.

B. (SBU) The government agencies involved in the
anti-trafficking working group are the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA), Ministry of Interior and Justice (MIJ),
Attorney General's office, the Ministry of Defense (MOD), the
Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and Social
Development, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of
Communication and Information, the Women's Rights Ombudsman,
the National Women's Institute (INAMUJER), the Children's and
Adolescent's Rights Council, staffers from the National
Assembly, and the National Statistics Institute. The
Ministry of Interior and Justice, Crime Prevention Division
was designated to lead the anti-trafficking effort.

C. (SBU) No anti-trafficking public information or education
campaigns were launched in 2004. The Labor Ministry approved
an IOM proposal to launch a public information campaign about
human rights, not limited to anti-trafficking, especially
targeted to migrant workers at the end of 2004. The IOM is
currently choosing the project director and the project is
set to get off the ground by April. The MIJ has an
anti-trafficking pamphlet designed and awaiting Ministerial
approval before printing begins.

D. (SBU) INAMUJER supports the Women's Bank to assist women
in need and enhance economic independence. The Bank provides
approximately 40,000 women with business and empowerment
training and small-scale financing for micro-enterprises
managed by women. INAMUJER also runs a free women's hotline
for victims of domestic violence, but no cases of trafficking
were reported in 2004. INAMUJER has a women's shelter for
victims of domestic violence. The GOV provides free public
education and meals to promote school access and attendance
through "Bolivarian" schools. "Bolivarian" schools also
offer a full-day schedule that can keep children off the
streets. The GOV also runs "Mission Ribas" which offers
stipends to encourage adult dropouts to finish a high school
education.

E. (SBU) The government can support prevention programs like
public information campaigns.

F. (SBU) Awareness of trafficking as a societal problem is
beginning to emerge in Venezuela. In 2004, no NGOs dealt
with trafficking directly, however, some women's and
children's NGOs addressed violence against women, child
prostitution or child labor issues. The GOV invited some
NGOs to the anti-TIP conference in January 2005. MFA
official Cazzadore acknowledged the need to get NGOs and
civil society involved but is moving cautiously, citing
concern about the legitimacy or alleged political agendas of
some NGOs. The IOM has gained cautious acceptance on
trafficking issues and has worked with the MFA, MIJ and Labor
Ministry. The IOM has also received requests for training
from the Attorney General's office.

G. (SBU) Venezuela's borders are extensive, porous, and often
isolated. Due to corruption and poor training among
immigration, customs and National Guard troops along the
borders, Venezuela does not adequately monitor its borders.
Without a national database, immigration and emigration
patterns are not compiled nor studied.

H. (SBU) The MFA chairs a 22-person interdepartmental working
group on trafficking in persons. The MIJ Crime Prevention
Division was designated as the lead agency on trafficking
issues.

I. (SBU) The MFA hosted an IOM-OAS international
anti-trafficking seminar January 27-28, 2005, attended by
170-200 government officials; however, GOV does not
participate in international working groups or efforts to
control trafficking. The GOV does not cooperate with the
U.S. on trafficking, but it says it will cooperate with the
United Nations (UN). Cazzadore noted that the MFA has
consulted Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and
Ecuador about the trafficking problem and possible
anti-trafficking measures.
J. (SBU) The interdepartmental working group designed and
disseminated to members a national action plan with
responsibilities for each ministry and agency. No NGOs were
consulted.

K. (SBU) Each agency is tasked with creating its own
anti-trafficking training and programs. In 2004, the MFA,
MIJ, and Attorney General's office offered anti-TIP awareness
training to employees.

---------------------------------------------
Paragraph 20 - Investigation and Prosecution
---------------------------------------------

6.

A. (SBU) Articles 52-59 of Venezuela's Naturalization and
Immigration Law in force since November 20, 2004, make
exploiting illegal labor, falsely promising an employment
contract to encourage immigration to another country, or
encouraging illegal immigration or smuggling to/through/from
Venezuela punishable by four to eight years in prison. If
immigrant smuggling is done for profit, using violence,
intimidation or fraud the sentence increases to eight to ten
years. If a victim's life or health is endangered, then the
range of punishment increases by an additional 50 percent.
The law punishes a public servant that encourages through
actions or omissions the fraudulent entry or exit of a person
with four to eight years in prison and exclusion from public
service for 10 years. The law does not include internal
forms of trafficking. Laws against forced disappearance and
kidnapping, punishable by two to six years, imprisonment can
be used to prosecute traffickers. In the case of children,
the Organic Law to Protect Children and Adolescents (LOPNA),
with fines of one to 10 months, salary for trafficking in
children, can also be used. The GOV did not report any
prosecution of trafficking cases.

B. (SBU) The Naturalization and Migration Law does not
specifically differentiate between sexual and labor
exploitation or limit what false offers of employment
contracts can include.

C. (SBU) Rape or forcible sexual assault is punishable by
five to 10 years in prison. There is no law specifically
prohibiting sexual trafficking in women, so the penalties
cannot be compared. For children the LOPNA makes trafficking
punishable with fines of one to 10 months, salary.

D. (SBU) The GOV did not report any prosecution of
trafficking cases.

E. (SBU) No evidence or confirmed reports exist that identify
traffickers.

F. (SBU) The police investigates cases of trafficking through
interviews and forensic evidence if available. Intrusive,
sophisticated and covert operations are restricted or
prohibited by law.
G. (SBU) Awareness and recognition of trafficking in persons
training has been provided to some consular officers, MIJ
employees, and prosecutors.

H. (SBU) The CICPC Interpol division cooperated with Spanish,
Mexican and Trinidadians on three separate trafficking cases.
Military intelligence also cooperated with the U.S. on the
arrest of an alleged alien smuggler with possible trafficking
implications.

I. (SBU) The GOV did not extradite nor report having received
any requests for extradition for traffickers. Venezuelan law
prohibits the extradition of a Venezuelan national.

J. (SBU) There is no hard evidence or accusation of
government officials facilitating, being complicit in or
condoning trafficking. However, corruption among immigration,
identification, customs and border patrol officials is
widespread and could facilitate trafficking.

K. Not applicable.

L. (SBU) Venezuela has not identified a child sex tourism
problem.

M. (SBU):
--The National Assembly ratified ILO Convention 182 December
4, 2003.

--ILO Convention 29 was ratified in 1944, and Convention 105
in 1964.

--The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of
the Child (CRC) was signed September 2000 and ratified May
2002.

--The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children supplementing the UN
convention Against Transnational Organized Crime was signed
December 14, 2000.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Paragraph 21 - Protection and Assistance to Victims
--------------------------------------------- -------

7.

A. (SBU) No specialized assistance is provided for victims of
trafficking. Victims can make use of the GOV's "Inside the
Neighborhood" mission that provides free medical services to
the poor.

B. (SBU) The GOV does not fund foreign or domestic NGOs to
provide services to trafficking victims.

C. (SBU) The GOV did not report any screening or referral
process in place for detained or arrested victims, or victims
placed in protective custody.

D. (SBU) Of the 14 victims reported in 2004, four have been
repatriated. The Venezuelan women trafficked to Mexico and
Spain were not detained, jailed or fined. Five of the 14
victims were identified as foreign nationals and the
information passed to the corresponding governments. Five of
the 14 victims are reportedly in Trinidad and Tobago, but
have not been located or repatriated. There are no plans to
detain, jail or fine the victims if they are returned to
Venezuela.

E. (SBU) Information provided by trafficking victims is used
in police investigations. Victims can seek civil action
against the traffickers, but none have done so to date.
There is no victim restitution program.
F. (SBU) The GOV does not provide protection for victims or
witnesses. One women's shelter run by INAMUJER is available
for women victims of domestic violence but space is limited
to less than 30 women. Public facilities are available for
children, but the facilities are often inadequate with poorly
trained staff.

G. (SBU) Awareness and recognition of trafficking in persons
training has been provided to some consular officers, MIJ
employees, and prosecutors. However, no specialized
assistance training has been provided. During the January
2005 seminar, MFA consular employees were urged to develop
ongoing relationships with NGOs, religious centers or media
sources serving their communities to help identify or aid
trafficking victims.

H. (SBU) Repatriated victims who may come from poorer
neighborhoods can make use of the GOV's "Inside the
Neighborhood" mission that provides free medical services to
the poor. Shelter and financial assistance are not available.

I. (SBU) AMBAR provides psychological, social, medical and
legal assistance to sexual workers, including child
prostitutes.

J. (U) MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.
Brownfield

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