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Cablegate: Goe Gains First Conviction Under New Tip Law

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UNCLAS QUITO 002675

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/PPC, WHA/AND, AND G/TIP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL EC
SUBJECT: GOE GAINS FIRST CONVICTION UNDER NEW TIP LAW


1. (U) Summary: Prosecutions against trafficking in persons
(TIP) are starting to gain traction in Ecuador, with El Oro
province prosecutors winning a maximum sentence and the first
conviction under the new anti-TIP law passed in June of 2005.
Other big cases are proceeding to trial, and we expect to
report on further successes in the near and medium term. We
expect continued GOE commitment to combat TIP, regardless who
wins the presidential runoff election. However, the role of
the First Lady, who has been key to progress during the
Palacio government, will vary depending on which candidate
wins on November 26. End Summary.

Prosecutions Bearing Fruit
--------------------------

2. (U) In El Oro province, Ecuador gained its first
conviction and sentencing under anti-TIP legislation passed
last year. A judge sentenced Ricardo Javier Paredes Cevallos
to 12 years in prison for the forced prostitution of two
underage girls in Machala. In applying the maximum sentence,
the judge noted that the girls were taken from Guayaquil and
forced to work in a Machala brothel. The judge also noted
that a minor's consent is irrelevant under Article 528-17 of
the Criminal Code. The defendant was arrested in a raid by
child welfare police ("DINAPEN") and the case was prosecuted
by designated El Oro TIP Prosecutor Lucy Blasio.

3. (SBU) The "La Luna" case (named for an infamous
nightclub), involving a sensational bust in Quito garnering
substantial media attention, has been used as a model in much
of the American Bar Association's anti-TIP training. The
case was cleared for trial on October 25 after the arrests in
January of five suspects charged with prostituting minors.
(Note: Under Ecuadorian legal procedure clearing a case for
trial is the last step in the pre-trial phase, and occurs
only after the judge decides there is enough evidence for
trial and resolves any other pre-trial issues. End Note.)
The Quito TIP prosecutor, Thania Moreno, estimated to PolOff
that the La Luna trial would start in December. The case
involves 11 minors in forced prostitution moved from city to
city against their will and with false documentation of their
age. Moreno has received death threats related to this case
and has been assigned two 24 hour under-cover agents. Since
their rescue, victims have received psychological, medical
and legal assistance, job skills training, education and
family protection via the Public Ministry's Victim Witness
and Protection Program.

4. (SBU) Another case, referred to as "Colegio Master" and
involving a child pornography production bust, has also been
cleared for trial. Moreno told PolOff she estimates this
case will be tried in December. Four adult employees of a
secondary school are a charged with producing pornography
involving many underage girls attending the school.

First Lady Support In Play
--------------------------

5. (SBU) Current First Lady Maria Paret de Palacio has been
a strong leader of the GOE fight against TIP from her perch
as director of the Ecuadorian National Institute for Children
and Families ("INNFA"), the government agency charged with
protecting adolescents and their families. That strong
leadership is likely to continue should Alvaro Noboa be
elected. His wife, Anabella Azin, the top vote-getter for
Congress representing populous Guayas province, has already
publicly confirmed she would accept the INNFA Directorship,
which is traditionally offered to the First Lady. As a
medical doctor, a popular member of Congress, and key advisor
to her husband, Azin will likely become a powerful leader of
the continuing fight against TIP.

6. (SBU) In contrast, Rafael Correa's wife, Anne Malherbe,
has repeatedly rejected any formal role for herself under a
Correa presidency, saying she wishes to stay completely out
of politics and the public eye. We are uncertain of Correa's
personal views on TIP, but have no reason to believe he will
not see a mutual interest in ridding Ecuador of this scourge.
Even if his foreign-born wife chooses not to play a public
role on the issue, we expect the new INNFA leadership to take
up the charge.

Comment
-------

7. (SBU) Regardless who wins, we will continue to work with
the GOE in the fight against TIP, and believe the GOE will
respond in kind. The first conviction under the new TIP law
reflects the societal consensus to make progress, and comes
even as Ecuador's court system has been struggling to regain
its footing after a period of prolonged institutional
turmoil. This major step forward reflects ongoing GOE
commitment to implement the new TIP law, empower
specially-designated TIP prosecutors and police, conduct
victim and witness protection programs and to welcome
ABA-sponsored judicial training. Looking ahead in the near
term, in addition to more successful prosecutions of existing
cases, we are expecting a new anti-TIP phone hotline to lead
to more arrests.
JEWELL

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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