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Cablegate: Dem. Rep. Of Congo 2005 Trafficking in Persons

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 KINSHASA 000352

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, AF/RSA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM PHUM KWMN EAID SMIG KFRD ASEC PREF ELAB CG
SUBJECT: DEM. REP. OF CONGO 2005 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
REPORT

REF: 04 STATE 273089

1. (SBU) Embassy Kinshasa provides the following information
in accordance with instructions in reftel. Responses are
keyed to reftel's numbered paragraphs (18-21).

Begin responses:

OVERVIEW OF COUNTRY'S ACTIVITIES TO ELIMINATE TRAFFICKING IN
PERSONS (para 18):

A. The DRC is not generally a country of origin, transit or
destination for international trafficked men, women or
children. The vast majority of internal trafficking occurs in
northeastern and eastern Congo, which are mostly outside
effective transitional government control. The four major
categories of trafficked persons in DRC are: (1) children
associated with armed groups; (2) women and girls who are
abducted and forced to work as domestic servants and/ or
provide sexual services for armed group members; (3)
civilians who are forced to provide uncompensated labor for
armed groups and the Congolese military (FARDC); (4) child
prostitutes under the age of 18. The government estimates
that there are about 30,000 children associated with armed
groups in the DRC. There are no reliable estimates for other
categories of trafficked persons. Most civilians abducted by
armed groups or forced to provide labor live in remote areas
in eastern DRC outside transitional government control and go
unreported. As for underage prostitution, which occurs
throughout the DRC, the clandestine nature of this activity
combined with an ineffective police and justice system make
the phenomenon difficult to quantify. During the past year, a
number of personnel from the UN peacekeeping mission to the
Congo, known by its French acronym MONUC, have been accused
of sexually exploiting and/or raping women and girls. As of
the end of 2004, 150 cases of sexual misconduct were pending.
To combat this serious problem, MONUC has established a
curfew for military personnel and a "zero-tolerance"policy
for sexual relationships between MONUC military staff and
Congolese residents. It has also repatriated a number of
civilian and military staff, and is conducting investigations
into numerous allegations of sexual exploitation. The UN
Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has also
organized a task force at UN Headquarters to take other
steps, including the forceful promulgation of the UN
Standards of Conduct for peacekeepers.

B. The vast majority of trafficking occurs internally within
the DRC. Credible sources, however, reported that an unknown
number of Congolese children were recruited out of refugee
camps in Rwanda to support ex-RCD/G combatants led by former
commanders such as General Nkunda and Colonel Mutebusi. There
were also unconfirmed reports that some children recruited in
the DRC by these commanders were sent to Rwanda for training.
MONUC also received several allegations that the governments
of Uganda and Rwanda aided and abetted Ituri commanders to
recruit and train children associated with armed groups.

C. Although the demobilization of children associated with
armed groups accelerated dramatically, limited recruitment
continued. For example, the UN Secretary General's February
2005 report on children and armed conflict found that about
5,000 children have been released from the Congolese military
and armed groups since October 2003. Experts estimate that in
the four years prior to that, only 2,000 were released. At
the same time, however, armed groups pursued recruitment
targets and forcibly recruited and re-recruited previously
demobilized child soldiers. For example, in June 2004,
ex-RCD/G combatants led by former commanders such as General
Nkunda and Colonel Mutebusi recruited children in North and
South Kivu.

Reliable estimates for other forms of trafficking do not
exist, but human rights organizations believe that government
efforts to investigate forced labor camps in Ituri and
prosecute rape cases in South Kivu have started to battle the
general climate of impunity and reduce trafficking by armed
groups.

D. The national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration
(DDR) process, which is funded principally by the World Bank
and is being carried out through various international NGOs,
should eventually produce more reliable figures on the actual
numbers of children associated with armed groups as well as
so-called "dependents," which often include women abducted by
various armed groups. There are no other known surveys
planned to specifically document trafficking.
E. Most trafficking victims are recruited or abducted by
armed groups operating in eastern DRC. In general, these
victims are kept in squalid conditions, and are threatened
with violence and death if they fail to follow orders or
attempt to escape. Abducted women remain with their captors
for several reasons including food and protection, children
born of the liaisons, and social dishonor if they were return
to their houses. Many victims of assault and trafficking are
reluctant to leave their captors for fear of rejection. For
many such women, the line between forced and voluntary
participation as an armed group "dependent" is blurry.
Underage prostitutes work in brothels throughout the DRC.
There is no evidence that trafficked persons are forced to
work in sweatshops, restaurants or other established
businesses.

F. Children and women are the primary trafficking targets.
There are three main groups of traffickers--armed groups,
MONUC personnel, and pimps. Armed groups recruit child
soldiers; abduct women for use as sex slaves or domestic
servants; force civilians to carry goods, provide supplies
and money, and in some cases dig for minerals or provide
other labor. Most victims are forcibly abducted. Certain
MONUC personnel sexually exploited children and women. Most
victims were prostitutes, including girls between the ages of
14 and 17 who traded sex for compensation. However, the UN is
investigating a number of rape and child pornography
allegations. There are also a limited numbers of pimps who
exploit child prostitutes who often work out of economic
necessity. As nearly all trafficking is domestic and
committed by armed groups, obtaining travel documents--false
or otherwise--is not necessary to move victims.

G. The GDRC has demonstrated a willingness to combat the most
common forms of trafficking, including demobilizing children
associated with armed groups, providing personnel to help UN
agencies draft a national plan to combat sexual violence, and
beginning to prosecute cases of child recruitment and rape in
eastern DRC. The Congolese military has prosecuted soldiers
for TIP-related crimes. The GDRC still does not effectively
control eastern parts of the DRC where most trafficking
occurs, and has limited funds available to combat
trafficking. As a result, the GDRC does not devote
significant resources to trafficking-related issues. It does,
however, cooperate very closely with international
organizations and NGOs on related issues.

H. There is no evidence of high-level government complicity
in TIP. However, Congolese human rights NGOs are aware of
local authorities who tolerate underage prostitution. There
were also numerous reports that some local authorities in
eastern DRC attempted to recruit child soldiers. While
corruption is commonplace in DRC, there is no specific
information on the extent to which border or police
authorities might assist traffickers in exchange for bribes.
Government authorities are not aware of any investigations,
charges or convictions of such cases.

I. The GDRC has very few resources to adequately address TIP
and does not effectively control eastern parts of the country
where most trafficking occurs. In addition, prosecuting cases
is difficult due to the extremely poor state of the justice
system--from police, to courts and prisons. Corruption is
endemic throughout the DRC, but it is unclear how it affects
trafficking.

J. The government does not systematically monitor its
anti-trafficking efforts.

K. Prostitution is legal over the age of 14. Operating a
brothel, pimping or forced prostitution is illegal, but these
laws are rarely enforced.

PREVENTION (para 19):

A. The GDRC acknowledges that trafficking is a problem.

B. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Human Rights,
Labor, and Women and Family Affairs are involved in TIP
efforts. The Ministry of Interior monitors the nation's
borders. In addition, the Ministry of Defense and the
national demobilization commission (CONADER) are working to
demobilize children associated with armed groups.

C. CONADER is the coordinating body for efforts to demobilize
children associated with armed groups, and is working with
other organizations to develop a national public awareness
campaign.

D. The government collaborates with international
organizations and NGOs to address violence against women and
children, which can include a TIP element.

E. The government supports such programs, but is not in a
position to provide resources to execute them on its own.

F. The GDRC, international organizations, NGOs and civil
society work together very closely to demobilize and
reintegrate children associated with armed groups and are
starting to work more cooperatively to combat sexual based
violence. The government and MONUC have worked together
closely to break up known forced labor camps in Ituri.

G. The GDRC does not adequately monitor its borders,
particularly regions not yet under the control of the
transitional government. Traditional entry/exit points such
as airports, land border crossings and water ports are
monitored by the Ministry of the Interior in regions
controlled by the transitional government. Post is unaware of
any monitoring of immigration and emigration patterns for
evidence of trafficking.

H. There is no formal coordination and communication between
various GDRC agencies on TIP. There is a national
Anti-Corruption Commission.

I. The government coordinates and collaborates with
international organizations and NGOs on the issue of children
associated with armed groups. For example, the Ministry of
Social Affairs chairs CONADER's technical steering group on
issues related to child soldiers. The government also
collaborates on issues of violence against women and
children, which sometimes addresses TIP.

J. With the exception of the national DDR plan, the GDRC does
not have a national plan in place to address TIP.

K. There is no single entity or person responsible for
developing anti-trafficking programs within the government,
though the government continues to express a desire to
establish a TIP task force.

INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS (para 20):

A. Although there is not a specific law prohibiting
trafficking in persons, laws prohibit slavery, forced labor,
rape, and prostitution under the age of 14.

B. Penalties for labor exploitation range from six months to
twenty years.

C. Penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault range from
six months to twenty years.

D. The GDRC investigated and/or prosecuted a limited number
of traffickers for recruiting soldiers, committing serious
human rights abuses, operating forced labor camps, and
committing rape during 2004. In May, the Armed Forces of the
Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) arrested former
Mundundu-40 Commander Biyoyo for unauthorized recruitment of
soldiers, including minors. Biyoyo, however, was given a
provisional release and was said to have fled the country.

During mid-year, the Bunia Prosecutor in Ituri District,
Orientale Province interviewed several persons in connection
with forced labor camps near Lake Albert. The judicial team
was able to collect 31 testimonies of victims, which
confirmed repeated, systematic and massive human rights
violations by Ngiti militia, including killings, mutilations,
sexual slavery, slavery and looting over a period starting in
April 2003.

MONUC and the Government arrested members of Ituri armed
groups accused of committing grave human rights violations
over the past several years. By October, over 50 were in
government custody awaiting trial. However, in November, Hema
prison guards helped 31 Hema prisoners from the Union of
Congolese Patriots (UPC) armed militia group escape.

Over the past year and a half, a local NGO in South Kivu won
57 of 60 cases of sexual violence it brought to court.
Sentences ranged between 10 months and 20 years and included
reparations to the victims and their families. Since
November 2004, 10 judicial decisions were made in favor of
the victims, eight of whom were raped by soldiers.
The GDRC cannot provide specific information about
trafficking cases because it does not maintain detailed court
records.

E. Armed groups in eastern DRC traffic children associated
with armed groups, abduct women for domestic labor and sexual
services, and compel civilians to provide forced labor.
Family members and pimps contribute to underage prostitution.
Certain MONUC personnel sexually exploited and/or raped women
and girls. To combat this problem, MONUC repatriated a number
of civilian and military staff, and implemented a
non-fraternization policy for its staff. Most trafficking is
conducted by individuals and armed groups. There is no
evidence that large international organized crime syndicates,
agencies, or marriage brokers are involved in trafficking in
the DRC. Some Congolese NGOs report that local officials and
police are sometimes complicit in underage prostitution.

F. The government has limited resources to investigate cases
of trafficking. DRC criminal procedure and law prevent the
police from engaging in covert operations.

G. The government does not provide any specialized training
for government officials in how to recognize, investigate, or
prosecute instances of trafficking. The Ministry of Foreign
Affairs has expressed an interest in training immigration
officers about TIP, however they do not currently possess the
resources.

H. The government cooperated with the governments of Belgium,
France, and other European countries on illegal migration
issues, which might have included TIP elements. There are no
reliable records on the number of such cases.

I. There are no records or known instances of the government
extraditing persons charged with trafficking in other
countries.

J. The FARDC has made significant efforts to demobilize and
reintegrate children associated with armed groups into their
communities. Many former rebel groups that are marginally
integrated into the Congolese military, however, still
contain large numbers of children. For example, a number of
Ituri armed group leaders who recently became generals in the
Congolese military have large numbers (in some cases 40% of
their forces) of child soldiers within their ranks. In
addition, some Congolese NGOs report that local officials and
police are sometimes complicit in underage prostitution.

K. In May, the FARDC arrested former Mundundu-40 Commander
Biyoyo for unauthorized recruitment of soldiers, including
minors. Biyoyo, however, was given a provisional release and
was said to have fled the country.

L. The DRC does not have an identified child sex tourism
problem.

M. GDRC ratification dates of the following international
instruments are:

--ILO Convention 182 concerning the prohibition and immediate
action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labor.
March 28, 2001.

--ILO Convention 29 and 105 on forced or compulsory labor.
June 20, 2001.

--The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of
the Child (CRC) on the sale of children, child prostitution,
and child pornography. March 5, 2001.

--The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN
Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime. March 5,
2001.

PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VICTIMS (para 21):

A. The government works with international organizations and
NGOs to provide reinsertion programs for demobilized
soldiers, including children. NGOs report that they hope to
eventually include soldiers' "dependents," which often
includes abducted women in program benefits. The government
has no resources to provide relief to other trafficking
victims.
B. The GDRC does not provide anti-trafficking funds for NGOs.
Rather, international donors provide funding to foreign and
domestic NGOs that provide services for women and children
who are victims of abuse, including trafficking.
C. There is no formal screening and referral process in place
to transfer trafficking victims to NGOs.

D. The rights of victims are generally respected. There is no
evidence that any were detained, jailed or prosecuted.

E. The government does not encourage victims to assist in the
investigation or prosecution of trafficking. Victims may file
civil suits or seek legal action against traffickers. The
poor state of the justice system impedes victims' access to
legal redress. In South Kivu, defendants found guilty of rape
were sentenced to pay restitution to victims.

F. The government has no resources to provide protection for
victims and witnesses of trafficking.

G. The government does not provide specialized
trafficking-related training to government officials either
within the DRC or overseas.

H. The government has no resources to assist repatriated
nationals who are victims of trafficking.

I. The principal international organizations, NGOs and
government agencies that work with child soldier reinsertion
and violence against women and children include UNICEF, CARE,
Save the Children UK, International Committee of the Red
Cross, the Belgian Red Cross, the International Rescue
Committee, International Foundation for Self-Help and
Education, War Child Holland, and the International Labor
Organization (funded in part by the U.S. Department of
Labor). The GDRC agency, CONADER, also plays a large role
facilitating the process. Most funding for child soldier
reinsertion comes from the Multi-Country Demobilization and
Reintegration Program of the World Bank. Under an interim
demobilization plan prior to large-scale DDR across the
country, these organizations are providing the following
services to children associated with armed groups:
identification and separation from adult militia members,
discharge, relocation to temporary transition centers, family
reunification or placement in foster homes, and identifying
and strengthening needed services for the children in their
new communities.

TIP Heroes (para 22)

A local NGO in South Kivu has been working tirelessly to end
criminal impunity in eastern DRC by helping victims prosecute
rapists. Over the past year and a half, AED (Action for
Right's Education), working through a USAID-funded umbrella
grant managed by the International Rescue Committee, has won
57 of 60 cases of sexual violence it brought to court and
successfully mediated 23 cases out of court. Sentences ranged
from 10 months and 20 years and included reparations to the
victims and their families. Since November 2004, 10
perpetrators have been found guilty of rape, including eight
soldiers. In total, AED has registered 323 cases and is
continuing to pursue these cases and new ones in court. AED
recently received an additional $50,000 in democracy and
human rights funds to continue its efforts.

(Note. AED's Coordinator, Bisimwa Ntakobajira has no
derogatory information or visa ineligibilities. End note.)

End responses.

2. (U) Point of contact is Meghan Moore, 243-81-225-5872, IVG
934-2620, email: MOOREMM2@STATE.GOV
MEECE

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