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Cablegate: Input for 2005 Tip Report - Vietnam

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 16 HANOI 000509

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, EAP/BCLTV, EAP/RSP
STATE PASS TO USAID

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB SMIG ASEC KFRD PREF CH TW CA VM OMIG CVR TIP
SUBJECT: INPUT FOR 2005 TIP REPORT - VIETNAM

REFS: A. 04 STATE 273089; B. HANOI 207; C. 03 HANOI 3232;

D. 04 HANOI 2921; E. 04 HANOI 1724; F. 04 HANOI 3071; G. 04
HANOI 1188; H. 04 HANOI 3021; I. 04 HANOI 2499

1. Mission Vietnam's response to the TIP questions in ref A,
paragraphs 18-21 follows, following the alphabetical
checklist format.

2. OVERVIEW OF VIETNAM'S ACTIVITIES TO ELIMINATE TIP

A. Characterization of trafficking in Vietnam:

Vietnam is a country of origin for trafficked women and
children; the highest percentage of victims are
undereducated rural women between 18 and 40 years of age.
Exact (or even rough) numbers are very hard to come by;
however, government and NGO sources agree that the number is
in the "thousands" per year. In press reports, Vietnamese
police spokesmen have said that 50,000 Vietnamese women have
been sold into prostitution in the past decade, but the
source of this figure is unknown. Vietnam now has a
dedicated crime statistics office, but it only opened in
August 2003. That office tracks data only on arrests,
prosecutions and convictions of traffickers and therefore
will not be a source of data on the total number of
trafficking victims in Vietnam. Mission Vietnam recommended
in January 2005 that a Vietnamese NGO receive USG funding to
conduct a project to improve the baseline TIP data available
in Vietnam (Ref B).

Trafficking occurs within Vietnam's borders, as well as from
Vietnam to other countries.

B. Source and destination of trafficking victims:

Vietnamese trafficking victims come from almost all
provinces and cities in Vietnam. The two main destinations
for Vietnamese trafficking victims are China and Cambodia;
in general, most northern and central trafficking victims
are trafficked to China, while victims in the south are
trafficked to Cambodia. The highest concentration of
victims trafficked north came from Thanh Hoa Province, south
of Hanoi. This province has traditionally been the source
of migrant populations in northern Vietnam. The Cambodian
border provinces of An Giang and Tay Ninh have a relatively
high number of victims trafficked to Cambodia.

A small number of women from Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong
Delta who married men from Taiwan are forced into
prostitution or domestic servitude after their arrival in
Taiwan each year. Since 1995, as many as 85,000 Vietnamese
women have gone to Taiwan as brides. Vietnamese and Taiwan
estimates of the number who have encountered difficulties,
including but not limited to trafficking, range from five to
ten percent. The number of actual trafficking victims, as
differentiated from women who found themselves in unhappy
marriages, is estimated by Taiwan and Vietnam authorities as
between one and two hundred per year (Ref C).

Cambodia and China are the destinations for the vast
majority of Vietnamese trafficking victims. Official
figures acknowledge that 500 Vietnamese women and children
are trafficked annually to Cambodia to work as prostitutes
or slaves, although this number is universally considered to
be lower than the actual figure. The Ministry of Public
Security (MPS) notes that Vietnamese women have also been
trafficked to Macao, Hong Kong and Malaysia for
prostitution, although in smaller numbers.

C. Changes in direction or extent:

Because Vietnam has only recently begun collecting data on
trafficking, and so it is not possible accurately to
evaluate changes in the direction or extent of trafficking
at this time. However, there is at present no credible
indication of any change in direction or extent.

D. Reports or surveys planned or underway:

In early 2004, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
and MPS released a survey of over 1,700 trafficking cases
from 17 cities and provinces in Vietnam to determine the
nature and extent of the problem. This survey covers only
confirmed cases of trafficking. The report states in its
introduction, "we are aware that the figure is very low
compared to reality." Other NGOs have expressed interest in
doing research on trafficking in Vietnam and publishing
their results, and the Mission has recommended that the USG
fund such a study to create a baseline to assist in the
planning and evaluation of other TIP projects.

E. Conditions for victims trafficked into Vietnam:

Vietnam is not known to be a destination point for
trafficked victims.

F. Targets and methods of traffickers:

The primary population targeted by traffickers in Vietnam is
unmarried women from poor and rural areas. More than 90
percent of trafficking victims have less than a high school
education, and 92 percent reported their occupations as
either unemployed or farmer. There has been no systematic
analysis of who the traffickers are, but in Mission
interviews with trafficking victims (and their relatives and
friends), as well as numerous press reports, traffickers
have been residents or former residents of the trafficking
victims' provinces or communities. In some cases, the
traffickers are traders or businesspeople, but in
approximately half of the cases, the traffickers were former
trafficking victims themselves. The primary tactic of
traffickers is to offer a so-called "easy" job as a trader,
waitress or domestic helper in either China or Cambodia. In
many (at least 25 percent, according to the UNICEF study)
cases of victims being trafficked to China, the victims are
told they are going to China to marry a wealthy man who
cannot find a suitable Chinese wife. Victims are generally
moved across the Chinese and Cambodian borders without
documents. In more than 80 percent of surveyed cases,
victims crossed the border away from legal crossing gates.
The MPS admits that Vietnam's long land borders with China
and Cambodia are extremely porous. In the relatively small
number of cases involving victims trafficked to more distant
destinations such as Hong Kong, Taiwan or Malaysia, MPS
representatives stated that traffickers disguise victims as
legitimate tourists or workers under a labor export program.

Vietnamese authorities, in cooperation with other third
country law enforcement officials, have documented cases of
trafficking in Vietnamese babies for international adoption,
especially in the area of directed adoption, involving
payments to parents in exchange for releasing their babies
for adoption. In addition to this, small children and
infants are reportedly sometimes kidnapped and sold to
traffickers in China. There were no confirmed reports of
this in 2004, however.

G. Political will to combat TIP:

There is political will at the highest levels of government
to combat trafficking in persons. In July 2004, Prime
Minister Phan Van Khai published the Decision of the
Government on the Approval of the National Program of Action
Against Trafficking in Women and Children from 2004-2010
(ref D). The plan addresses the major elements of
prevention, prosecution and protection and identifies both
the deficiencies in Vietnam's previous approach and the
challenges and constraints facing the GVN as it wrestles
with the trafficking problem. Importantly, the plan assigns
specific roles to specific agencies under the overall
direction of MPS, thus eliminating some of the confusion
regarding overlapping jurisdictions. The GVN is also
committed to implementing its commitments under the Regional
Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in
Persons and Related Transnational Crime (aka the Bali
Process) and the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial Initiative
on Trafficking (aka COMMIT) and is moving with deliberate
speed towards concluding a bilateral MOU on trafficking in
persons with Cambodia, Thailand and China.
The United Nations assesses the GVN's commitment to
enforcement of TIP laws (and the proportionality of
penalties) as strong. To date, there have not been any
government officials directly linked to TIP.

The GVN does not have extensive resources, but it has
recently focused more of its economic development efforts on
rural and mountainous communities in part to change the
conditions of poverty that contribute to the persistence of
trafficking. On the prosecution side, it has created a
separate office in MPS to focus on trafficking. Local
communities, provincial-level Women's Unions and provincial
Departments of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs are
charged with -- and have been generally active in --
facilitating the reentry and rehabilitation of trafficked
victims.

H. Government complicity in trafficking:

There were no cases in 2004 that would lead to the
conclusion that governmental authorities, forces or
individual members facilitate or condone trafficking in
persons. However, the GVN has a persistent problem with
corruption within its ranks, and that problem is
particularly severe among street-level police and border
agents. There may have been cases in 2004 of officials
prosecuted for their involvement in trafficking, but they
were not publicized. Statistics on criminal prosecution of
traffickers are not disaggregated by profession.

I. GVN's ability to address the problem:

The limitations on the GVN's ability to address the problem
come primarily from the socioeconomic conditions in Vietnam,
the usually low levels of ability of the police and armed
forces and the extensive land borders with China and
Cambodia, the primary destination countries for Vietnamese
victims of trafficking.

Vietnam is poor; CY 2004 per capita income was USD 537, and
in rural and mountainous areas, the figure is much lower.
Jobless women believe that China is a much richer place with
significant numbers of prosperous businessmen who cannot get
married in China because there is a lack of eligible women.
Many in the south believe that there is money to be made in
Cambodia working as the servant of a rich man or in the
entertainment industry. Real economic opportunity in
Vietnam is concentrated in urban areas, home to less than 20
percent of the population. For the majority of Vietnamese
women, a rural, uneducated life at or below the poverty line
is the best they can expect. Thus, the pool of potential
trafficking victims is vast.

The socioeconomic conditions in Vietnam also affect the
ability and integrity of the police and border guards as
well as other public officials. Vietnam does not have the
resources to train or equip these personnel extensively, and
salaries are low, between twenty and forty dollars per
month. These deficiencies contribute to the problems of
corruption and incompetence in the Vietnamese police and
public officials, especially at the local level. The GVN
acknowledged this problem explicitly in the Plan of Action:
"There are [inadequacies] and [limitation] in State
administration over relevant facets such as business;
services; labor management; entry-exit management; marriage;
giving up and adoption of children involving foreigners;
and, border management; the structure and organization of
[the State administration's management] exposed many
shortcomings failing to meet the requirements such that
criminals can [take advantage of these shortcomings] for
their practices."
The porous borders between Vietnam and the two main
destination countries represent the third limitation on the
GVN's ability to combat trafficking. Traffickers are able
to evade the police easily. MPS officers admit that the
long borders between Vietnam and China and between Vietnam
and Cambodia offer traffickers many options for crossing the
border illegally with trafficking victims. Vietnamese
border authorities in the south have admitted that in remote
areas, they rely on local residents informing the police in
the event a stranger passes through the area heading for the
border. In practice, this does not represent an effective
border control strategy. However, considering the limited
resources of the Border Army and the thousands of kilometers
of easily crossable borders, it is difficult to implement a
truly effective strategy.

J. Government monitoring of anti-TIP activities:

The July Government Decision on the National Program of
Action Against Trafficking in Women and Children contained a
frank evaluation of existing efforts to combat TIP on all
fronts and offered recommendations for improvement.
Monitoring and evaluation of efforts to combat TIP in
Vietnam is difficult due to the fact that no data exist to
describe the baseline against which anti-TIP results can be
compared.

In March 2004, MPS, working with UNICEF, produced a review
of the actual situation of trafficking in persons to China
and Cambodia and an examination of prevention and
investigation efforts. Because this study focused solely on
trafficking cases that had been brought officially into
Vietnam's criminal justice system, it greatly underreported
the total number and extent of cases.

The GVN does not have a formal mechanism for sharing TIP
monitoring and evaluation information. It is available upon
request on a case-by-case basis.

K. Legalization/decriminalization of prostitution:

Prostitution is subject to penalties in Vietnam. Brothel
owners, procurers, prostitutes and customers are all subject
to arrest. Brothel owners and procurers face jail time
under the Penal Code and prostitutes and customers are
usually given "administrative punishment," imposed by the
police without the involvement of prosecutors or courts.
Prostitutes are routinely sent to rehabilitation centers,
while customers face fines. Customers who are found with
prostitutes under the age of 18 are subject to prosecution
and jail time.

3. PREVENTION:

A. GVN acknowledgement of the problem:

The GVN acknowledges the problem of trafficking publicly and
privately at all levels of government and with domestic and
international audiences. The Plan of Action, signed by the
Prime Minister, states (verbatim) in its opening paragraph:
"The situation of trafficking, especially trafficking of
women and children, to other countries has become more and
more complicated, serious and tended to increase. According
to informal statistics, there have been tens of thousands of
Vietnamese women and children trafficked up to now, mainly
to China, Cambodia, and some other countries. Trafficked
women and children end up to prostitution or working in
worst conditions and suffer discrimination. Trafficking of
women and children has become an urgent, topical and
pressing problem badly affecting society, customs,
tradition, social morals, and laws and sabotaging and taking
away the happiness of many families, posing threats upon
future generations and increasing the risks of transmitting
HIV/AIDS, with negative implications for national security
and social order."
B. Agencies involved in anti-TIP efforts:

The lead agency is the Ministry of Public Security, which
has an office dedicated to trafficking enforcement as well
as the responsibility for coordinating interagency efforts.
The other agencies involved are the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA), the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social
Affairs (MOLISA), the Border Army, the Women's and Youth
Unions, the Committee on Protection of Families and Children
(CPFC), the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the People's
Supreme Court.

C. Government-run anti-TIP information or education
campaigns:

The GVN has not mounted separate, specific anti-TIP
campaigns, but the issue of trafficking has been raised in
combination with other information and education programs.
For example, Vietnam Television occasionally addresses the
issue in a popular television program about home economy,
featuring returnees discussing their trafficking experiences
and advising others on how to avoid being trafficked.

Trafficking in persons is normally included with other "anti-
social evil programs" run by MOLISA's Department of Social
Evils Prevention (DSEP). (Note: The GVN defines "social
evils" as drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, prostitution and trafficking
in persons. End note.) For example, the GVN's official
anti-prostitution program has been underway since 2001.
This program includes trafficking information and education
campaigns. This program, according to DSEP, targets
victims, high-risk groups and the entire society. In
addition to this program, the Plan of Action tasks the
Women's Union with education of the community on prevention
of TIP. In general, government-run anti-trafficking
programs in Vietnam target potential trafficking victims
rather than the demand for trafficking. Separate propaganda
campaigns target consumers of prostitution.

In addition, in the summer of 2004 UNICEF, the governments
of Vietnam and China, the Vietnam Women's Union and the
Women's Union of China began a joint mass communications
effort to educate people and local government leaders on
trafficking, tactics used by traffickers, signs to detect
persons being trafficked and related issues. The year-long
campaign also addresses the protection of victims, including
health checks for repatriated victims, training on how to
counsel trafficked persons and workshops on local laws
regarding sexual exploitation and the trafficking of women
and children. UNICEF's goals for the campaign are to reduce
cross border trafficking and to create a social movement
against trafficking.

The campaign will take place in Vietnam and China
simultaneously, with the same materials (in different
languages) used in both countries. In Vietnam, the campaign
is concentrated in Quang Ninh, Lang Son, and Lai Chau
Provinces in the north and An Giang and Dong Thap Provinces
in the south. UNICEF estimates that the campaign will reach
approximately 4,000 Vietnamese people directly and millions
more indirectly, through television, radio and newspaper
announcements (ref E).

D. GVN support of other programs to prevent trafficking:

The GVN supports several domestically funded and foreign
funded anti-trafficking programs.

On February 12, 2004, the GVN approved its 2004 - 2010
National Program of Action on Protection for Children in
Special Circumstances. The program has four objectives
targeted at:

- providing for homeless children;
- ending the worst forms of child labor;
- preventing women and children from being trafficked; and
- capacity building and advocacy.

In addition to this program, the GVN also supports various
ongoing trafficking projects throughout Vietnam, including
international programs, such as following ILO projects:
- ILO - Japan Asian Regional Program for Extension of
Employment Opportunities for Women, Capacity Building,
Credit Schemes and Income Generation;
- National Program for the Prevention and Elimination of
Child Labor in Vietnam; and
- The Mekong Sub-regional Project to Combat Trafficking in
Women and Children.

The main GVN anti-poverty program, Project 135, is also
specifically designed to improve conditions for "people in
difficult circumstances." The GVN uses the same language to
describe the most populations most vulnerable to
trafficking, especially in the north.

Other NGOs and international organizations such as the
International Organization for Migration (IOM), Action Aid,
Save the Children UK, United Nations Office of Drugs and
Crime (UNODC) and UNICEF are assisting in combating
trafficking. These projects all contain a GVN component,
mostly in the form of in-kind contributions.

E. GVN ability to support prevention programs:

Though prevention in the form of socioeconomic development
for the high-poverty areas where many trafficking victims
originate is the GVN's top priority for addressing the issue
of trafficking in persons, the magnitude of the task of
improving the standard of living for all those living in
rural poverty exceeds the GVN's resources. The GVN is
dependent on overseas assistance to meet many of its
developmental goals, which themselves are insufficient to
eliminate the potential pool of victims.

F. Relationship between government officials, NGOs, other
relevant organizations and other elements of civil society
on the trafficking issue:

The GVN's ability to operate in an interagency context is
limited, but has improved with the issuance of the Prime
Minister's decision on the National Plan of Action.
Communication technology is antiquated and there is little
tradition of interagency cooperation. The GVN works well
with relevant organizations on the TIP issue, especially
those connected to the UN such as UNICEF and UNODC. MPS has
played an active role in several UNICEF and UNODC
trafficking projects, going so far as to assign one senior
officer full time in the UNODC office as the national
project coordinator. This greatly improves UNODC's ability
to work with MPS.

On the trafficking issue, civil society representation comes
from the Women's Union, a mass organization under the
Vietnam Fatherland Front for women's issues in Vietnam. The
Women's Union has branches and offices throughout the
country down to the commune level. Relations between the
Women's Union and other agencies on the subject of
trafficking are excellent.

G. GVN border control adequacy and monitoring of
emigration/immigration patterns for evidence of TIP:

Representatives from the General Criminal Division of MPS
have admitted that, along Vietnam's 5,000 km of land
borders, there are "countless forest paths where people
cross the border unofficially." Sophisticated monitoring of
immigration and emigration patterns for evidence of
trafficking would exceed the GVN's technical and human
resource abilities. Vietnam began collecting statistics on
trafficking last year; building and exploiting an effective
database are yet to come.

H. Existence of trafficking and corruption task forces:

MPS has overall coordination authority over a group of
ministries charged with combating trafficking in persons.
The GVN does not have a broad-based TIP task force, except
for the TIP office in MPS that is focused solely on
enforcement. There is no interagency task force on
corruption in Vietnam, although there is a State
Inspectorate as well as a Ministry of Internal Affairs and
an Internal Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of
Vietnam (CPV), all of which have investigatory and
supervisory powers.

I. GVN participation in international anti-TIP efforts:

The GVN's most significant international effort to combat
trafficking in persons is through its participation in the
Bali Process connected with the Bali Regional Ministerial
Conferences on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and
Related Transnational Crime held in February 2002 and April
2003. In addition to the commitments from the Bali Process,
Vietnam intends to participate in the Asia Regional
Cooperation to Prevent People Trafficking Project funded by
AusAid when that project expands beyond Thailand, Burma,
Laos and Cambodia. According to the ASEAN Secretariat, the
purpose of that project is to strengthen regional
cooperation and legal policy frameworks through identified
ASEAN Secretariat plus China (Yunnan Province) national
points of contact and build national and regional capacity
to prevent trafficking in women and children.

Vietnam also played a role in the COMMIT process, the first
inter-country, inter-ministerial forum for forging concrete
alliances and arrangements to combat human trafficking in
the region. Vietnam attended and contributed to the COMMIT
Senior Officials Meetings in July and October of 2004 and
attended the Ministerial level meeting in Rangoon in October
2004. Vietnam signed on to the COMMIT MOU which pledges
practical cooperation in combating TIP through the creation
of a network for repatriation of victims, building similar
networks between specialist police units, and improving
extradition procedures. Vietnam is scheduled to host the
next meeting of COMMIT countries in the first half of 2005
(Ref F).

J. GVN plan of action for TIP:

The GVN's National Plan of Action for Combating Trafficking
was released in July 2004. MPS, MOJ, MOLISA, MFA, the CPFC,
the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuracy
and the Vietnam Women's and Youth Unions were involved in
the Plan's development.

NGOs were not formally consulted in the development of the
National Plan of Action, but the GVN intends to rely heavily
on assistance from the ILO, UNODC and UNICEF to implement
the plan. The plan was distributed publicly through the
GVN's regular channels for the publication of official
documents, assisted by the NGO community.

K. Entity or person responsible for developing anti-
trafficking programs within the government:

According to the Plan of Action and the instructions from
the Office of the Prime Minister, MPS is the point of
contact for anti-trafficking activities among the Ministry
of Health, MOLISA, MFA, MOJ, Border Army, the Women's Union
and other mass organizations.

MPS is responsible for reporting to the Office of the Prime
Minister on the issue of trafficking in women and children
after collecting and analyzing all information from other
concerned ministries and agencies. In practice, the
Criminal Police Department within the General Department of
People's Police (part of MPS) handles issues pertaining to
trafficking in persons.

4. INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS:
A. Laws specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons:
Most traffickers in Vietnam are prosecuted under the current
Penal Code Articles 119 and 120, according to the Law
Department of the Office of the National Assembly. Article
119 concerns trafficking in women and provides for penalties
ranging from two to 20 years in prison. Article 120
concerns trafficking in children, and penalties range from
three years to life in prison. Trafficking in women and
children for all purposes, not just prostitution, is covered
under these articles. Trafficking for the purposes of labor
exploitation is covered in Vietnam under Penal Code 275
(titled "organizing and/or coercing other persons to flee
abroad or to stay abroad illegally"). GVN authorities,
including the MOJ, recognize that although all forms of
trafficking can be prosecuted one way or another under the
Vietnamese Penal Code, existing legislation in Vietnam does
not comprehensively cover trafficking in persons. The GVN
is engaged in a legal reform project now that is designed to
correct the flaws in the current code concerning trafficking
in persons and provide the legislative basis for Vietnam to
accede to international protocols on trafficking in persons.
According to the MPS Criminal Police Department, the GVN is
currently "developing and gradually perfecting the legal
system concerning the prevention, the prosecution of crimes
and the violation of laws on trafficking in women and
children." Vietnamese law does not address the issue of
trafficking in men for sexual purposes, and there are no
indications that this is a problem in Vietnam. If it did
happen, however, it would be possible to prosecute the
traffickers under laws criminalizing the procurement of
prostitutes, according to MOJ.

The Vietnamese Labor Code contains a section on "Vietnamese
working abroad." Included in this section's articles is a
stipulation that only "Vietnamese citizens who are 18 years
of age in full or over, who have the ability to work, who
are voluntary and satisfy all other standards and conditions
in accordance with Vietnamese laws and the laws and
requirements of the foreign party may work in a foreign
country." The Code also includes the requirement that
enterprises have a permit to send workers abroad, thus
ensuring some measure of government control over the system.
The Code details the rights and obligations of both workers
and enterprises, including all enterprises' obligations "to
manage and protect the interests of laborers during the
period of working abroad under their contracts in accordance
with the law of Vietnam and the law of the foreign country;"
"to pay compensation for damage to the laborer caused by the
breach of the contract by the enterprise;" and "to complain
to the authorized State body against breaches of the laws in
the field of labor export."

An updated Decree (July 2003) provides the legal mechanism
to implement these provisions. This regulation requires
that companies "monitor, manage, and protect the legal
rights of labor during their time of working abroad" and
"have cadres for the management of the labor depending upon
the foreign market." The enterprises are thus required
regularly to inspect overseas workplaces both before and
after signing labor contracts. The information from the pre-
inspection must be included in the registration of a labor
export contract submitted to MOLISA. According to one labor
export company, MOLISA carries out both scheduled and
surprise inspections of labor export companies.

The July 2003 implementation Decree highlights the
conditions for granting and revoking licenses for labor
export. Vietnam now has 126 licensed labor export
companies. Of these, 119 are state enterprises "owned" by a
wide range of ministries and provinces, while the remaining
seven are private companies. Since the implementation of
this Decree in July 2004, MOLISA has been reviewing the
current licenses and new applications. This process is
still ongoing, and MOLISA has already denied 20 applications
for new companies that did not meet necessary conditions
under the Decree. MOLISA has also used its power to revoke
and suspend the licenses of "irresponsible" labor export
companies. This happened ten times between 2001 and 2003,
and in 2004 at least ten more enterprises had their licenses
revoked and 50 had their licenses suspended because of
"inefficient operations." For more serious abuses of
worker's rights, MOLISA coordinates with MPS to prosecute
violators under criminal statutes. Notably, an interagency
circular (an internal GVN regulation) was jointly issued by
MOLISA and MPS on January 18, 2005 to guide prevention of
and combat against violations in labor export. The Circular
listed crimes that may face administrative sanction or
criminal prosecution and clearly defined the
responsibilities of MPS, MOLISA and police and labor
agencies at the local level.

At a March 2004 interagency conference to review the results
of a USG-funded UNODC survey of the Vietnamese anti-TIP
legal framework (Ref F), the participants created a
framework for action. They agreed on the need to harmonize
Vietnamese law with relevant international conventions;
agree on a definition of trafficking and specific criminal
acts of trafficking as well as a mechanism for interagency
cooperation to allow the investigation and prosecution of
traffickers; establish the legal authority for the
protection of witnesses and victims of trafficking;
facilitate the repatriation and reintegration of victims of
international trafficking and resolve problems relating to
legal jeopardy for trafficking victims; promote
international and regional cooperation to combat TIP; and,
address the problems at the source of trafficking in
persons: poverty and difficult economic circumstances.
According to MOJ, as of March 2005 efforts in all of these
areas are "actively ongoing" but have yet to show results.

B. Penalties for traffickers:

The revised Penal Code of Vietnam states in Article 119 that
those who commit acts of "trading" women for the purpose of
prostitution shall be sentenced to between five and twenty
years of imprisonment. Article 120 provides sentences of
between ten and twenty years of imprisonment for those who
commit the crime of trading in, fraudulently exchanging or
appropriating children for use for prostitution purposes.
Traffickers of people for labor exploitation are prosecuted
in Vietnam under Penal Code section 275 and face penalties
of between two and twenty years in prison depending on the
severity of the crime.

C. Penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault:

Penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault range from six
months in prison to capital punishment. Capital punishment
is reserved for cases in which: the victim is killed,
seriously disabled or infected with HIV/AIDS; the
perpetrator is a participant in a gang rape; or the
perpetrator has raped more than one person. With the
exception of the potential of the death penalty or life in
prison in the circumstances mentioned above, the penalties
for rape/sexual assault and for trafficking in persons are
similar.

D. Prosecution statistics:

The GVN's Department of Crime Statistics was established in
the Supreme People's Procuracy in August 2003. It provided
its first set of statistics to the USG in late February
2004. The following is the number of cases against
traffickers in women and children (Articles 119 and 120 of
the Penal Code) in CY 2004. This data does not include
cases involving those guilty of trafficking in men for labor
exploitation.

Indicted: 113 suspects in 162 cases;
Prosecuted: 94 suspects in 142 cases;
Convicted: 110 suspects in 175 cases.

E. Information on traffickers and beneficiaries of
trafficking:
Although the GVN refers occasionally to the involvement of
organized crime in trafficking cases, there is no evidence
to date to indicate that international organized criminal
syndicates are involved in trafficking in Vietnam. Most of
the traffickers caught and prosecuted in Vietnam are small-
scale traffickers operating close to their home villages as
individuals or in small groups. In many cases, the
traffickers are either former trafficking victims
themselves, or relatives of the trafficking victims. In a
review of the cases of 428 people arrested for trafficking
in the north of Vietnam from 1999-2002, the MPS General
Criminal Department determined that 80 percent of the
perpetrators were unemployed, farmers or itinerant vendors.
There have been several cases where "matchmaking" agencies
in Ho Chi Minh City have been accused of defrauding women in
the process of arranging marriages between men from Taiwan
or South Korea and Vietnamese women, but there is so far no
indication that trafficking is involved in these cases.

The proceeds of trafficking do not appear to concentrate in
any particular place or gravitate towards any particular
group in Vietnam, but instead are shared among the members
of small free-lance ad-hoc groups of traffickers, according
to UNODC.

F. GVN investigation of trafficking cases:

The GVN actively investigates trafficking cases, and
prosecutes and convicts traffickers. In general, the GVN
does not use active investigative techniques in any criminal
investigations, including narcotics cases. According to the
DEA, the Vietnamese police do not have the authority or the
capability to use wiretaps effectively in criminal cases.
Legally, they can conduct undercover operations, but MPS
states that it lacks implementing regulations spelling out
exactly what is legal and illegal in undercover operations,
and so does not yet conduct them. Vietnamese law does not
permit granting immunity from prosecution in exchange for
information, and American-style plea bargains do not happen.
In criminal cases, the judge does have the discretion to
mitigate sentencing if defendants have been cooperative
throughout the investigation and trial process, but a pre-
arranged bargain is not legal.

A project aimed at improving and refining the legislation
covering tools available to investigate and prosecute cases
is currently underway under the auspices of UNODC. MOJ is
the implementing agency for this project.

G. Training for GVN officials in TIP issues:

At the moment, the GVN does not provide special training in
recognizing, investigating or prosecuting instances of
trafficking. However, in 2004 MPS cooperated with UNODC on
a U.S.-funded project that to train 121 Border Army
officers, police officers, judges, prosecutors and Border
Army and Police Academy instructors in recognizing and
investigating trafficking at high-risk border crossing
points in Quang Ninh and Tay Ninh Provinces. According to
UNODC post-training evaluations, "all participants now have
a basic knowledge of human trafficking, and some have an in-
depth knowledge."

H. International cooperation in TIP enforcement:

The GVN cooperates with other governments in the
investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, but not
often. According to MPS, this has happened "less than ten
times." However, one case in April 2003 received a great
deal of press attention when Vietnam-Cambodia cooperation
resulted in the elimination of "several" trafficking rings
and long prison sentences handed down to some leaders. MPS
officials also cited two instances in which China and
Vietnam jointly (and successfully) investigated trafficking
cases, both in 2001. MFA officials have noted that, with
the assistance of UNICEF, Chinese and Vietnamese border
authorities meet "regularly" to exchange information, and to
"work out plans to coordinate actions to prevent cross-
border smuggling of women and children." In the context of
a USG-funded TIP project implemented by the Asia Foundation
and the Vietnam Women's Union, Vietnam and Cambodian
government representatives met in November 2004 near the
Vietnam-Cambodia border to discuss techniques for combating
trafficking between Vietnam and Cambodia.

I. GVN extradition of traffickers:

Vietnam can and does extradite foreigners who are charged
with trafficking in other countries, even in the absence of
extradition treaties, but only on a case-by-case basis.
According to Interpol-Vietnam, statistics for extradition
cases in 2004 and other years are unavailable, but the
number of trafficking-related extraditions in 2004 was "less
than ten."

MOJ officials noted, however, that Vietnam does not
extradite its own citizens anywhere for any purpose, in
accordance with the 1998 Citizenship Law.

J. Evidence of GVN tolerance of or involvement in TIP:

Vietnam suffers from endemic corruption, particularly at the
working levels of law enforcement. While cases of
trafficking-related corruption appear rarely if at all in
the press, NGOs and international organizations believe that
they exist.

The most recent press account of possible official
involvement in corruption appeared in the "Great Solidarity"
newspaper (published by the Vietnam Fatherland Front) in
February 2004. In that case, one trafficking victim was a
cousin of the police commander for the commune involved.
The newspaper quoted a Women's Union official who noted that
in cases where a family relationship exists between the
authorities and the traffickers, the law enforcement system
breaks down. The article stated that, at the commune level,
where most people have at least some distant family
relationship with each other, the fact that many traffickers
are people who return to their hometowns from overseas makes
law enforcement "more difficult." MPS contacts note that
the professionalism and capabilities of law enforcement in
rural areas is usually lower than at the central level.

Post has no information indicating the existence of
trafficking-related corruption at the central level of the
GVN.

K. Steps to end official participation in TIP:

MPS officials stated that a combination of internal
administrative punishments and legal prosecution would be
used to combat any official corruption or participation in
trafficking. To date, the GVN has not confirmed any cases
of corruption directly related to trafficking, but MPS
officials noted that there may have been cases in which
traffickers also had some official capacity, especially at
the local level. Those cases would be contained in the
aggregate indictment, prosecution and arrest statistics
under Articles 119 and 120. The GVN does not analyze that
data to determine if any of the individuals involved are
public officials.

L. Vietnam has in some cases been a destination for
international child sex tourism. Foreign law enforcement
sources state that although its investigative capacity is
limited, the GVN is "extremely responsive" to requests for
cooperation in cases where foreign pedophiles are wanted for
child sex tourism crimes. In late 2004 and early 2005 the
GVN (at the request of the Australian Government) deported
two Australian citizens for child sex crimes in Vietnam. In
2004, Vietnam cooperated closely with U.S. authorities in
returning a wanted U.S. citizen pedophile back to the United
States for prosecution. Under Article 6 of the Vietnamese
Penal Code, Vietnamese citizens who commit crimes outside of
Vietnam are still subject to prosecution under Vietnamese
law. This also applies to sexual crimes against children,
though Vietnamese are not generally considered to be
significantly represented in the ranks of international
child sex tourists.

M. GVN ratification of international instruments:

ILO Convention 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate
action for the elimination of the worst forms of child
labor: Signed and ratified. Date of ratification: December
19, 2000.

ILO Conventions 29 and 105 on forced or compulsory labor:
Not yet signed.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution, and
child pornography: Signed and ratified. Date of
ratification: December 20, 2001.

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime: Not yet
signed, but according to UNODC and MOJ, Vietnam hopes to
ratify the UN Convention against Transnational Organized
Crime in 2005 and sign the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and
Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children
simultaneously.

5. PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS:

A. GVN assistance to victims:

In accordance with the Prime Minister's directive number
776/TTg, MOLISA has the responsibility for caring for
victims of trafficking. In practice, MOLISA interprets this
as the responsibility to "coordinate with relevant agencies
in providing guidance and directions to localities to
conduct job training and generation activities and to
provide medical treatment to victims of trafficking." The
effect of this interpretation is to shift primary
responsibility (financial and operational) for actually
caring for victims of trafficking back to the provincial and
local level. At the local level, it is usually the Women's
Union representatives who care for returnees. In
particularly hard-hit communes in provinces such as An
Giang, Lang Son and Quang Ninh, local People's Committees
and Women's Unions work together to provide services and
care to returnees. The level of this care, in particular
medical care, depends on the political will and the
financial resources of the commune. Medical care is
generally rudimentary in the communities from which
trafficking victims originate, and so many victims likely do
not receive adequate care.

B. GVN funding of NGOs providing services to victims:

Local governments often work with NGOs to provide support to
returned trafficking victims in the form of vocational
training, farmland or capital for microcredit loans. In
addition, nearly all international organization and NGO anti-
trafficking programs have a GVN component, usually in the
form of an in-kind contribution such as office space,
personnel or services.
C. Treatment of victims:

Trafficking victims in Vietnam are not detained, arrested or
placed in protective custody against their will. The GVN
routinely sends prostitutes to "rehabilitation centers"
where they receive medical care and vocational training
during a period of incarceration, but trafficking victims
are not sent to these centers unless they are caught
engaging in prostitution after their return to Vietnam.
MOLISA officials noted that trafficking victims have the
opportunity to enter a prostitute rehabilitation center
voluntarily to take advantage of the medical care and
vocational training, but that this is very rare.

Victims of trafficking for prostitution within Vietnam do
run the risk of being sent to rehabilitation centers.
However, police and local government officials in Danang and
Ho Chi Minh City (and other provinces in Vietnam) have told
Embassy officers that the most likely outcome for a
trafficking victim caught up in an anti-prostitution sweep
would be to be sent back to her home village or district to
receive care there. The rehabilitation centers are usually
reserved for women who have been arrested multiple times for
prostitution or for those who also need help with drug
addiction (ref G).

D. Rights of victims and treatment of returnees continued:

Post has no information indicating that returned trafficking
victims in Vietnam are treated as criminals. In all
official meetings, in conferences, in seminars, and in the
press, returnees are referred to as "victims." The Director
of MOJ's Legal Aid Agency has advocated changing the law
explicitly to acknowledge the victim status of returnees,
but so far this has not occurred.

E. Victim participation in investigations or suits against
traffickers:

According to the MOJ, trafficking victims in Vietnam are
encouraged to assist in the investigation and prosecution
process. They are also encouraged to file suit against the
traffickers. Article 31 of a new Criminal Procedures Code
(see section F below) explicitly states the right of any
Vietnamese citizen to make complaints or statements during
criminal proceedings.

Depending on the court ruling, if a ruling is against an
employer (for example, the employer is sentenced to
imprisonment), then compensation will be awarded to the
victim by the court, including back pay. Article 29 of the
new Criminal Procedures Code establishes the right to
compensation and the restoration of reputation and other
benefits for the victims of injustice, including
trafficking.

Victims may leave Vietnam in accordance with emigration
regulations.

F. Protection of victims and witnesses:

On November 26, 2003, the National Assembly passed the
Revised Criminal Procedures Code, which took effect on July
1, 2004. Point 3, Article 55 under the Code states: "the
witness has the right to request the government to protect
his life, health, reputation, dignity, assets and other
legitimate rights and interests when taking part in the
prosecutorial process."

According to Article 7 of the Code, "citizens have the
rights to have their life, health, reputation, dignity and
assets protected by law. Any acts ruining life, health,
reputation, dignity or assets will be dealt with by law. If
the life, health, reputation, dignity or assets of the
victim, witness, or anyone else taking part in the
prosecutorial process, or their loved ones, are threatened,
competent authorities shall apply necessary measures for
protection as stipulated by the law." According to the
National Assembly's Law Department, in practice security and
police authorities have provided protection for victims and
witnesses, in most cases at their request. Also according
to the Law Department, in some exceptional cases, the GVN
automatically offers to provide protection, depending on the
seriousness and the importance of the case.

The GVN does not run or fund shelters for victims or
witnesses.

G. GVN specialized training for officials dealing with
trafficking, especially related to protection of victims:

The GVN does not in general provide specialized training but
has sent labor attaches to nine of its embassies overseas
located in countries that have the largest number of
Vietnamese workers (ref H). These attaches are responsible
for working with the local authorities, the employers of
Vietnamese workers and other Embassy staff members to
monitor labor conditions and intervene on behalf of
Vietnamese workers if necessary. These officers have access
to a fund that can be used to help Vietnamese workers who
find themselves in a difficult situation (such as an abusive
workplace, or a bankrupt employer) to go home. This
provides an important protection for workers against being
trafficked for labor. In addition, MFA officers assigned
to Taiwan receive special briefings on working with
Vietnamese women who are married to men from Taiwan, and are
instructed to "work with Taiwan authorities to give a
helping hand to the victims, to detect and take timely
action against traffickers in women under the cloak of
marriage brokers," according to MFA Consular Director
General Dinh.

Also see Paragraph 4, subsection G regarding the USG funded
anti-TIP training program for GVN officials.

H. GVN assistance to repatriated nationals who are victims
of trafficking:

In accordance with the Prime Minister's directive number
776/TTg, MOLISA has the responsibility for caring for
victims of trafficking. In practice, MOLISA interprets this
as the responsibility to "coordinate with relevant agencies
in providing guidance and directions to localities to
conduct job training and generation activities and to
provide medical treatment to victims of trafficking." The
effect of this interpretation is to shift primary
responsibility (financial and operational) for actually
caring for victims of trafficking back to the provincial and
local level. At the local level, it is usually the Women's
Union representatives that care for returnees. In
particularly hard-hit communes in provinces such as An
Giang, Lang Son and Quang Ninh, local People's Committees
and Women's Unions work together to provide services and
care to returnees. The level of this care, in particular
medical care, depends on the financial resources of the
commune. Medical care is generally rudimentary in the
communities from which trafficking victims originate, and so
many victims do not get care.

In 2004, the GVN created and funded a new account for the
protection and welfare of overseas workers, allowing the GVN
to assist overseas workers in distress without requiring
workers to rely on either the labor export companies
responsible for sending them overseas or the employers in
the host country. This also allowed the GVN for the first
time to use public funds to repatriate workers whose
employment situation outside of Vietnam deteriorates to the
point that they need assistance to return to Vietnam (ref
I).

I. NGOs working with trafficking victims in Vietnam and
cooperation with the GVN:

Major ongoing NGO projects in Vietnam include:

-- Oxfam Quebec, Save the Children UK, and Save the
Children Sweden: In the northeast (Bac Giang, Quang Ninh,
and Lang Son provinces), this project is aimed at awareness-
raising through the distribution of leaflets and local
economic development through the provision of training and
support for women starting their own businesses.
Counterpart agency: the Women's Union.

-- the ILO: The ILO's project is part of a subregional
project including all of the Mekong subregion countries. It
is located in Quang Ninh and Thanh Hoa provinces as well as
in Ho Chi Minh City. ILO focuses on: advocacy and awareness-
raising; capacity building in MOLISA, Border Guards, MPS and
the Women's Union; and direct assistance. Counterpart
agencies are MOLISA, MPS and the Women's Union.

-- IOM: IOM plays a vital leadership role among
governmental and non-governmental organizations combating
TIP in Vietnam. In its direct project activities, IOM is
focused on protection of returnees. Also a regional Mekong
project, IOM has opened a shelter for returned trafficked
children in Ho Chi Minh City and provides assistance to
trafficking victims who want to return to Vietnam. IOM
received USG funding in 2004 to expand the shelter project
to the northeastern province of Quang Ninh. Counterpart
agencies: MOLISA and the Women's Union.

-- UNICEF has a Vietnam component to a subregional
antitrafficking project, which focuses on protection of
victims and institutional capacity building, as well as
legal reform. UNICEF's project is unique in that it
incorporates children themselves in project planning.
Counterparts: MPS and MOLISA.

-- A UNODC project, with USG funding, focuses on capacity
building among law enforcement agencies, legal reform
leading to accession to UN protocols on trafficking, and
international law-enforcement cooperation. Counterpart:
MPS.

-- The Asia Foundation, also funded by the USG, focuses on
prevention of trafficking in Quang Ninh and An Giang
Provinces. TAF works with Vietnamese NGOs and the Women's
Union to improve conditions and opportunities for women in
the provinces. Activities include training of women
political candidates and business managers, and provision of
microcredit loans for women starting small businesses.
Counterpart: the Women's Union.

-- the UN Interagency Project (UNIAP) in Bangkok
administers a USD three million (total project cost) project
against trafficking in women and children in the Mekong Sub-
region, including Vietnam, which attempts to collect data
and to improve internal coordination among GVN agencies.
The UNIAP is currently on hiatus in Vietnam pending the
GVN's approval of its "second phase" projects. Counterpart:
MOLISA.

These organizations altogether are spending less than USD
five million dollars annually in Vietnam. Most projects are
small-scale and focused mainly on raising awareness of
trafficking in at-risk communities, with some additional
efforts to address "root causes" and protect returning
victims of trafficking. The major exception is the UNODC
project. In all cases, the projects have a GVN partner
organization and draw heavily on donated staff from the
Women's Union, MOLISA and local Departments of Labor,
Invalids, and Social Affairs and in some cases MPS. The
GVN's contribution to these projects is nearly always in-
kind, in the form of office space, personnel, equipment and
supplies if available. The international community in
general, and the NGO and International Organization
community in particular, is unanimous in its positive
assessment of GVN cooperation. UN agencies with experience
working with the GVN in several different sectors state that
interaction on the issue of trafficking is the most
productive and effective of all of their projects. Even on
the issue of law enforcement cooperation, an area where the
GVN is infamously bad, has a bright spot in the area of TIP:
the Ministry of Public Security genuinely cooperated with
the Australian Federal Police in 2004 on two cases involving
Australian pedophiles and with U.S. law enforcement officers
on one case, resulting in the deportation of three
individuals: two to Australia and one to the United States.

POC AND TIME SPENT ON REPORT:

POC: Benjamin Moeling, Political Officer
(moelingbw@state.gov) tel: 84-4-772-1500x2216 fax:84-4-772-
2614.

Time spent on report:
FSN-10, 14 hours
FSN-9, 2 hours
FO-02, 30 hours
FO-02, 1 hour
FE-MC, 1 hour

MARINE

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