Cablegate: Egypt: Signs of Stronger Efforts On Tip

DE RUEHEG #3031/01 2841603
P 111603Z OCT 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


Sensitive but unclassified, please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: A new inter-ministerial committee on
Trafficking In Persons (TIP), a proposed new child protection
law with anti-TIP provisions, and a nascent public awareness
campaign are signs that the GOE is moving towards awareness
of, and eventually action on, TIP. Continued challenges will
be developing more comprehensive anti-TIP legislation; a
common perception of TIP as a cross-border, rather than
internal Egyptian, problem; and arrests and prosecutions. We
are also seeking opportunities to assist the GOE on public
awareness and training for law enforcers and prosecutors.
End summary.

First Meeting for TIP Committee

2. (SBU) The "National Committee to Combat and Prevent
Trafficking in Persons", created by Prime Ministerial decree
on July 15 (reftel), will meet for the first time on October
17 and be chaired by the MFA Assistant Minister for
Multilateral Relations Naela Gabr. Praising the creation of
the committee, the DCM on October 10 emphasized to Wael Aboul
Magd, MFA Deputy Assistant Minister for Human Rights and the
MFA's lead on TIP, the importance of moving quickly to
increase arrests and prosecutions of traffickers, with the
understanding that the GOE currently lacks a comprehensive
anti-TIP law. The DCM encouraged quick action to develop new
legislation, and to gather statistics on TIP cases in Egypt
to better understand and address the problem. Aboul Magd
described the new committee as a significant step towards
increasing GOE activism on TIP, opining that the Prime
Minister's involvement and the a-political nature of the
topic will allow the GOE interagency machine to work as
quickly as possible on this problem.

3. (SBU) Aboul Magd said that the committee will focus on
three simultaneous tracks: implementation of already existent
anti-TIP provisions; legislating new anti-TIP laws; and
increasing public awareness of the nature and importance of
TIP. Aboul Magd highlighted that public awareness and
education of TIP is one of the committee's biggest
challenges. He noted that, while the GOE and USG are in
agreement on the importance of making progress in combating
TIP, the GOE nevertheless would not be driven by Washington's
timetable for producing the yearly TIP report.

New Child Protection Law

4. (SBU) The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood
(NCCM) is putting the finishing touches on a new child
protection law, developed with input from a broad range of
Egyptian and international experts, that strengthens and
broadens Egypt's anti-TIP legislation in regards to children.
At NCCM request, emboffs and Justice Attache have been
consulting on the law and pressing for anti-TIP provisions.
The law notes specifically that "the child shall be protected
against trafficking, sexual harassment, exploitation, sexual,
emotional, and physical abuse." For example, it specifically
delineates a penalty of at least five years in prison and a
fine of at least LE 50,000 (USD 8,993) for any who "present
for purchasing, receive, or deliver a child in order to be
treated as a slave or with the intention of usage in unlawful
commercial or sexual exploitation or any other illegitimate
purposes." A new section on child labor forbids children
working under age 15, or being trained under age 13, and lays
out humane working conditions. Those in violation are
subject to fines beginning at LE 200 (USD 36), doubling for
each violation, and any who "endanger the life of a child,"
which includes exposing a child to "abuse, violence,
exploitation, or displacement," incurs a sentence of at least
three months in prison. The new law increases the minimum
age of marriage for girls from 16 to 18, and the age of
consent is already defined to be 18.

5. (SBU) NCCM head Ambassador Moushira Khattab told the DCM
on October 8 that the NCCM would present this new law to
parliament when it reconvenes in November, and that she
expects the law to be passed this year. She expects little
resistance to most of the law's provisions. However, she
noted that implementation, particularly on child labor, will
be an issue, as in fact current Egyptian law already contains
provisions against child labor. The problem, she said, is
that many feel that restricting children's ability to work
limits the income available to Egypt's poor families, who
need as much extra income as possible from every capable
family member. Khattab noted as well that, while there is

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almost universal agreement in Egypt that TIP is a problem
across borders, the public, police, prosecuting, and
legislative community is not yet sensitized to the fact that
TIP is an internal Egyptian problem as well.


6. (SBU) The inter-ministerial committee, draft legislation,
and nascent public awareness efforts are signs that the GOE
is moving towards awareness of, and eventually action on,
TIP. We note that the Egyptian focus on TIP continues to be
on a cross-borders problem, and it will take time to educate
the Egyptian public, law enforcers, prosecutors, and
law-makers on the importance of addressing TIP within Egypt.

© Scoop Media

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