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Cablegate: Traffickers Posing As Marriage Brokers Convicted

VZCZCXRO5543
PP RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHHM #0801 2110846
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300846Z JUL 07
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2934
INFO RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 2071
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 3136

UNCLAS HO CHI MINH CITY 000801

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV SOCI KTIP SMIG KWMN PREL PHUM MY VN
SUBJECT: TRAFFICKERS POSING AS MARRIAGE BROKERS CONVICTED

REF: A) HCMC 196; B) HCMC 191; C) HCMC 090 and previous D) HANOI 393 E) HANOI 394

(SBU) On July 26 2007 the HCMC People's Court convicted six
Vietnamese citizens for trafficking 126 women to Malaysia under
the cover of a matchmaker agency. The prosecution signals a
continued trend forward in enforcement of Anti-TIP laws in
Vietnam (Reftels). Due to increased attention from the GVN to
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) issues, the number of TIP cases
detected in 2006 went up more than 70% over 2005, prosecutions
increased 47% from 2005 to 2006, and there has been an overall
increase of 60% in TIP-related investigations over the last five
years (Refs. D,E).

2. (U) The HCMC trial was the culmination of investigations
begun in late 2005. The crime ring trafficked 126 Vietnamese
women to Malaysia, under the guise of marriage, where many
became sex workers. Ringleader Tran Thi My Phuong was sentenced
to 12 years in prison, and her husband Tsai I Hsein was
sentenced to seven years. Three accomplices received five, six
and ten year sentences.

3. (SBU) Reports from the trial noted that the traffickers lured
the women to Malaysia with promises of help in finding husbands,
but sold them to brokers for 1500-2000 USD after they arrived.
The brokers in turn sold the victims at bars for as much as 6300
USD. GVN police broke up the ring after more than ten victims
escaped and reported their stories to authorities in Vietnam.

4. (SBU) ConGen requested permission to attend the trial via
diplomatic note to the GVN External Relations Office (ERO), but
ERO declined to assist because the trial did not involve 'U.S.
citizens or entities.' CG Fairfax raised the issue during a
courtesy call on People's Committee Chairman Le Hoang Qua that
same day, noting that the U.S. supports the GVN's efforts
against TIP through several programs, and that the trial was an
opportunity to highlight Vietnam's progress on the issue by
observing and reporting on GVN's effective law enforcement. Qua
was appreciative of ConGen's support and encouraged us to make
similar requests to the ERO for future TIP trials.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: Business is booming for matchmaking agencies
advertising marriage for Vietnamese women with foreign men, and
such services have clearly been noted by criminals as a
potential avenue for trafficking women. Future anti-TIP efforts
should continue to focus on raising public awareness of these
schemes. Despite the positive steps the GVN is taking, as
demonstrated in part by this successful conviction, GVN
authorities noted that coordinating investigations and
prosecutions with destination countries like Malaysia remains
problematic. GVN law enforcement authorities have lamented to us
that they could do more in the battle against TIP if they had
more mutual legal assistance treaties in place with destination
countries, such as Malaysia. END COMMENT.

6. This cable was coordinated with Embassy Hanoi.

FAIRFAX

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