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Cablegate: Tip Interim Assessment for Israel

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Leza L Olson 11/30/2006 08:01:30 AM From DB/Inbox: Leza L Olson

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS TEL AVIV 04675

SIPDIS
CXTelA:
ACTION: POL
INFO: PD IMO RES ECON DCM ADM DAO IPSC AMB AID RSO
CONS

DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AMB:RHJONES
DRAFTED: POL:ARHOLST
CLEARED: DCM GCRETZ, POL/C MSIEVERS, POL PVROOMAN

VZCZCTVI371
RR RUEHC RUEHXK
DE RUEHTV #4675/01 3331610
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291610Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7900
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TEL AVIV 004675

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB GTIP PHUM IS KCRM KJUS
SUBJECT: TIP INTERIM ASSESSMENT FOR ISRAEL

REF: STATE 175900

1. (Summary) The Government of Israel has taken several
important actions to combat human trafficking since the 2006
TIP Report was written. On October 19, it amended Israel's
trafficking in persons law to include labor trafficking, the
most serious deficiency noted in the TIP report. The
government will also provide legal assistance to victims of
labor trafficking under a pilot program that will be reviewed
in two years. In addition to the new law, the GOI took
several other steps to address the problem of human
trafficking. On May 31 the GOI officially appointed Rachel
Gershuni from the Ministry of Justice as National Coordinator
responsible for coordinating the battle against trafficking
via prosecution and prevention. The Knesset has tabled the
United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized
Crime, and if no objections are raised by Knesset members,
the Convention will be sent to the Government for
ratification. In the area of prosecution, the government
doubled the number of trafficking cases that it brought to
court -- all related to prostitution to this point, as the
impact of the October 19 law has not yet had time to be felt.
This report responds to questions posed in reftel. (End
Summary.)

--------------------------------------------- ---------------
Interim Assessment Question 1 -- What progress has Israel
made in passing and enacting a comprehensive
anti-trafficking law?
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

2. The Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (Legislative
Amendments) Law, 5766-2006, was voted upon and approved
unanimously by the Knesset on October 19, and went into force
upon its publication on October 29. The law strengthens and
broadens penalties for human trafficking, stipulating
trafficking offenses for the purposes of stealing organs,
kidnapping newborn children, slavery, forced labor (including
the taking of passports), prostitution, pornography and
sexual abuse. Forced labor is defined as "anyone who forces
a person to work, by using force or other means of pressure
or by threat of one of these, or by consent elicited by means
of fraud, whether or not for consideration." Slavery is
defined as "a situation under which powers generally
exercised towards property are exercised on a person."
Maximum penalties for several trafficking offenses were
increased. The courts were instructed to grant trafficking
victims compensation to be paid through a dedicated fund to
be set up for such purposes, and were authorized to hold
trafficking trials behind closed doors and to prevent the
publication of details that identify the victims. The NGO
Hotline for Migrant Workers (Hotline) called the law
comprehensive and an important tool in the prevention of
trafficking in persons. Hotline said that it would also like
the charging of fees for job placement without a legal job to
offer in Israel added to the newly expanded definition of
trafficking.

--------------------------------------------- ---------------
Interim Assessment Question 2 -- What progress has Israel
made in extending victim protection services to all victims
of trafficking, including labor TIP victims?
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

3. The new law amends the existing Legal Aid Law to provide
legal aid to all victims of trafficking and slavery,
including those trafficked for the purpose of labor.
Previously, legal aid was accorded only to victims of
trafficking for the purpose of prostitution. Victims do not
have to meet economic criteria to receive the aid. The
expanded legal aid program will be reviewed in September
2008. NGOs such as Hotline for Migrant Workers and Kav
La'Oved responded positively to the new law's victim
protection framework, but did criticize the law's allocation
of confiscated property and fines from traffickers to the
government rather than directly to the victims.

On March 30, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the State to
establish within six months a new employment arrangement that
will allow foreign workers to change employers without losing
their legal status. In response, on September 12 the
Government adopted Resolutions 447 and 448, which set new
methods for employing foreign workers in the fields of
nursing and agriculture that are designed to provide the
workers with increased protections and simplify the process
under which they can change employers. A GOI contact said
that the government hopes to complete the changes to the laws
and regulations by April 2007.

--------------------------------------------- ---------------
Interim Assessment Question 3 -- What progress has Israel
made in increasing criminal investigations and prosecutions
against suspected traffickers, including those engaged in
practices related to involuntary servitude?
--------------------------------------------- ---------------

4. Through October 1, the police conducted 282 criminal
investigations on trafficking in persons for the purpose of
prostitution and related offenses, and GOI brought 27 new
trafficking cases to court, a 50% rise in prosecutions in
comparison to 2005. The Government acknowledges documented
abuse of some foreign workers, but cites a lack of exact
statistics with regards to victims of trafficking for labor,
and stated that "there are few cases in which the abuse
amounts to slavery or forced labor." Estimates on the extent
of the labor trafficking problem vary greatly, with some NGOs
claiming hundreds (slavery) and thousands (forced labor) of
labor trafficking victims. No reliable empirical evidence is
available to support either the Government or NGO estimates.
The impact of the new law on investigation and prosecution of
cases and practices related to involuntary servitude is not
yet known.

********************************************* ********************
Visit Embassy Tel Aviv's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/telaviv

You can also access this site through the State Department's
Classified SIPRNET website.
********************************************* ********************
JONES

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