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Cablegate: Argentina: 2007 Tip Interim Assessment

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2244/01 3250842
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 210842Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9750
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION PRIORITY 6701
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 6587
RUEHLP/AMEMBASSY LA PAZ NOV 5014

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002244

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

G/TIP FOR BARBARA FLECK
G/TIP FOR KATIE BRESNAHAN
WHA/PPC FOR SCOTT MILLER
WHA/BSC FOR JANINA SLATTERY
DHS PLEASE PASS TO ICE OFFICE OF INVESTIGATION KATERINA
KAROUSOS AND ICE INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS LAURIE WEEKS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC ELAB KCRM PHUM PREL SMIG KWMN PGOV AR
SUBJECT: ARGENTINA: 2007 TIP INTERIM ASSESSMENT

REF: A. SECSTATE 148925
B. BUENOS AIRES 1723
C. BUENOS AIRES 1245
D. BUENOS AIRES 1185
E. BUENOS AIRES 1030
F. BUENOS AIRES 965
G. BUENOS AIRES 881
H. BUENOS AIRES 838
I. BUENOS AIRES 814
J. BUENOS AIRES 799
K. BUENOS AIRES 753
L. BUENOS AIRES 2095

1. (SBU) Post, through the combined efforts of the political
section and ICE office, continues to coordinate with
Argentine authorities to develop local capacity to
investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes. We also
continue to work with Argentine partners in government and
civil society to advance anti-TIP legislation (Refs B-K) and
to develop comprehensive victim's assistance programs. We
raised the issue with U.S. Representative Chris Smith when he
visited Argentina November 11-12 and at an Embassy-hosted
lunch with local women's rights leaders and the organizers of
the Vital Voices summit which will be held in Argentina in
2008.

2. (SBU) Per Ref A instructions, below is our interim
assessment of Argentina,s progress in its efforts to combat
trafficking in persons (TIP). Our response is keyed to
points found in reftel.

A) ENACTING COMPREHENSIVE FEDERAL ANTI-TIP LEGISLATION TO
CRIMINALIZE AND PUNISH ADEQUATELY ALL SEVERE FORMS OF
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

The Argentine Congress continues to debate trafficking in
persons legislation, with the Senate passing its version in
December 2006. A more comprehensive bill was introduced in
the Deputies in October 2006, and the two bills have yet to
be reconciled. A key difference between the two bills is
whether or not trafficking victims can &consent8 to being
trafficked. According to NGOs, the Senate bill makes consent
irrelevant only for persons under the age of 18, while the
Deputies bill makes consent irrelevant. GOA officials
continue to assure us that passage of anti-trafficking
legislation is forthcoming and will be a priority for
incoming President-elect Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who
will be sworn in December 10.

There have been efforts in Buenos Aires City and the province
of Santa Fe to pass legislation criminalizing TIP. On
September 14, the Buenos Aires City Legislature approved a
reform to the city,s criminal code that provides for strong
fines and prison sentences for people involved in the
trafficking of minors. The law covers those directly
involved in TIP, as well as persons who provide any
assistance to individuals who intend to sexually exploit
children or adolescents, even if the service provider is not
involved in the actual sexual activity. The law obliges
suppliers of tourist services to follow codes of conduct,
including reporting to authorities tourists that abuse
minors. Services must display signs at their agencies
advising of penalties for the abuse of minors and phone
numbers for relevant government authorities. The law also
requires the Government of Buenos Aires to both enforce these
requirements and conduct a TIP information campaign through
public and private media. The province of Santa Fe has also
introduced legislation to speed up the legal process when
dealing with trafficking-in-persons cases.

B) INCREASING LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS TO INVESTIGATE,
PROSECUTE, CONVICT, AND SENTENCE TRAFFICKING OFFENDERS,
INCLUDING CRIMINAL CASES AGAINST ALLEGEDLY COMPLICIT PUBLIC
OFFICIALS

In 2005, the Prosecutor General's office established a
special unit charged with investigating human trafficking
cases and crimes against sexual integrity. As of December
2006, the unit became operational. However, the unit's
jurisdiction is limited to Buenos Aires city and the majority
of its budget is financed by the city government. It is
authorized to open investigations based on leads it receives
from civil society, NGOs, the PG's Office of Victim's Assistance
(OFAVI), and a hotline run by the National
Institute for Anti-Discrimination (INADI) to report
trafficking cases. It does not investigate trafficking cases
that have been reported directly to the police, since those
cases are assigned to a prosecutor that has jurisdiction over
that police station. (Comment: Although it is too early to
evaluate the effectiveness of the unit, the Director and
Deputy Directors of the unit have received anti-TIP training
from our International Law Enforcement Academy in Lima, Peru.
Both seem to be very capable professionals.)

INADI's hotline was first established as a hotline to report
discrimination complaints and took on the additional
responsibility of taking complaints or tips on people or
locales involved in human trafficking in April 2007. Since
April, OFAVI has looked into 92 TIP-related complaints
received by INADI in coordination with the PG's special
anti-TIP unit.

The provinces of Tucuman and Santa Fe have established
specialized police units that investigate human trafficking
cases and crimes against sexual integrity. The Tucuman
police unit works very closely with TIP activist Susana
Trimarco and her NGO, the Maria de los Angeles Foundation.
Santa Fe Province recently sponsored a working group in its
capital city to highlight the provincial government,s
anti-TIP successes and discuss the means for build on the
gains. The meeting was attended by high-level officials from
the provincial government of Santa Fe and surrounding
provinces. Together the provinces are working on a plan to
increase coordination between provincial and national
agencies.

The Argentine government continues to investigate and arrest
individuals involved in human trafficking and related crimes.
In March, the Argentine Federal Police (AFP) arrested a
Bolivian couple for subjecting 14 Bolivians, ranging in age
from 17 to 30, to slave-like conditions and depriving them of
their liberty in a textile sweatshop. In April, the AFP
arrested 17 individuals for running 14 sweatshops in Buenos
Aires City, rescuing a total of 174 undocumented workers from
deplorable conditions. According to the press, Buenos Aires
city has received 2,702 complaints of sweatshops operating in
their jurisdiction and has closed 713 sweatshops over the
18-month period of January 2006-June 2007. Given the
relative ease with which sweatshops can relocate to another
area outside of the city's jurisdiction, the Buenos Aires
city government signed a cooperation agreement with the
Province of Buenos Aires and the federal government.

In April, the National Gendarmerie, Ministry of Interior's
Victims Against Violence program, and the NGO Red Alto a la
Trata y Trafico (RATT) worked together to rescue a group of
14 Paraguayan minors from a brothel in Pergamino (Buenos
Aires province) where they had been forced into prostitution.
In late August, an international pedophile ring snared
individuals from various Argentine provinces. The police
operation, called &Children,s Hell," confiscated more than
10,000 pornographic images and videos. Fifteen people from
eight provinces have been implicated for publishing and
exchanging child pornographic material. The operation
involved coordination among the different provincial police
departments and was supervised by a Federal Justice. A new
investigation has been opened to determine the images,
source and location.

In September, the first documented case of child smuggling in
Argentina occurred at the border of La Quiaca, Argentina and
Villazon, Bolivia. An Argentine woman using false travel
documents was arrested at the border for attempting to cross
with two Bolivian girls, ages 14 and 15. The victims were
promised work in Argentina as nannies, but it is believed
they were going to be sold into prostitution. The
individual,s arrest occurred due to the combined efforts of
the Argentine and Bolivian Consulates, the Argentine
Gendarmarie, the Argentine Public Ministry,s Defenders of
Minors, and immigration officials from both countries. These
agencies form part of the Argentine-Bolivian Integration
Committee, which works to share information on cases
involving minors more efficiently. In October, 9 individuals
were arrested in Buenos Aires province for sexual abuse,
child pornography, and child prostitution using minor
relatives ages 4 to 17.

COMMENT: It is important to note that Argentina's judicial
system is extremely overburdened, and members of the Supreme
Court as well as NGOs deem the system's administrative and
budgetary support as inadequate. As a result, suspects are
often held in pre-trial detention for an average length of
three years before their case is tried. At present,
Argentina's judicial system is modeled after Europe's
inquisitorial system. Although the 1994 constitution
provides for oral trial, implementing legislation has not
been passed. Argentina's transition from an inquistorial to
an accusatorial judicial system began 10 years ago and has
advanced most notably in Cordoba and Buenos Aires provinces.
The GOA's goal is to implement the system at the federal
level, which would transfer investigative responsibilites
from federal judges to the prosecutors and help improve due
process. In addition, there are efforts to improve judicial
efficiency and improve case management, but the system needs
a significant increase in the number of judges and
prosecutors in order to make a real dent in the caseload.
Trials for trafficking in persons cases are subject to these
constraints. As such, efforts to prosecute the trafficking
offenses listed above and previous reports will take time.
END COMMENT.

C) IMPROVING EFFORTS TO GATHER LAW ENFORCEMENT DATA ON
TRAFFICKING CASES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY

In July, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (MOJ)
issued a resolution to create a combined government and
private sector program which would work with public and
private organizations to maintain a current database of TIP
cases, among other things. In October, President Nestor
Kirchner signed an executive decree establishing the
"National Program to Prevent and Eradicate Trafficking in
Persons and Provide Victims Assistance" which will be
administered by the Ministry of Interior's Office of Judicial
Affairs. The program also includes the establishment of a
national database that will register human trafficking crimes
using data compiled by local police, judicial and Public
Ministry officials. See section D for more details about
these programs.

COMMENT: Since the decree was signed, President-elect
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has appointed Interior
Minister Anibal Fernandez to head the MOJ. It is a new and
enhanced Ministry, however, as Fernandez brings with him his
security portfolio (Federal Police, Border Guard, Coast
Guard, and Airport Police) from Interior. There has been
speculation that Fernandez will also bring the newly created
National Program to the MOJ, and combining it with the MOJ
program created in July. END COMMENT.

D) DEDICATING MORE GOVERNMENT RESOURCES FOR THE PROTECTION OF
TRAFFICKING VICTIMS, PARTICULARLY SHELTER SERVICES

In October, TIP Hero Susana Trimarco launched the Maria de
los Angeles Foundation, named after her daughter who was
kidnapped in 2002 and believed to have been trafficked for
the purpose of sexual exploitation (Ref L). The GOA has
committed itself to covering half of the foundation's annual
operating budget. The foundation

As noted in section C, the MOJ issued a resolution in July
establishing a program aimed at TIP prevention and
coordinating interagency efforts to provide comprehensive
assistance to victims. The program will also organize public
awareness campaigns to educate the population about human
rights and both national and international legal statutes
concerning TIP. In October, Kirchner signed an executive
decree to create a "National Program to Prevent and Eradicate
Trafficking in Persons and Provide Victims Assistance"
administered by the Ministry of Interior. The program aims
to:

o coordinate anti-trafficking efforts among the federal
government, the provinces, the capital, NGOs, and
international organizations;

o conduct public awareness campaigns and provide
training to school teachers in coordination with the Ministry
of Education;
o train government officials to strengthen
the capacity of judicial and law enforcement officials to detect,
prosecute and dismantle trafficking rings;

o provide victims with a brief overview on how to
access free medical, psychological, social, and legal
services;

o provide training opportunities and offer information
on employment opportunities to help reinsertion of
trafficking victims into society;

o prevent revictimization;

o inform victims of their rights as well as the status
of investigations and trials against their captors in the
native language of the victims and in a manner that is
appropriate for their age and level of maturity;

o conduct research and publish studies on the extent of
the human trafficking problem in Argentina;

o monitor institutions to ensure compliance and
implementation of anti-trafficking policy;

o coordinate public and private resouces to prevent and
assist victim, provide financial support or guarantee free
housing to assist victims in the first days after their
initial rescue;

o create partnerships with regional and international
organizations to prevent and monitor human trafficking;

o promote international cooperation and the adoption of
bilateral and multilateral measures to monitor, prevent and
eradicate human trafficking; and

o create a free national hotline that will receive
complaints and tips of the public.

E) RAISING PUBLICLY THE ISSUE OF TRAFFICKING BY STATEMENTS
FROM SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

In September, Argentina's National Public Defender, Eduardo
Mondino, stated that Argentina needed to pass legislation
criminalizing human trafficking, stressing that a victim can
not consent to their own exploitation at the National Public
Defender's first annual conference concerning human
trafficking in Mar del Plata. The National Public Defender's
Office is a GOA agency responsible for advocating general
public issues. They co-organized the conference with the
Argentine NGO "Women,s Equality Foundation". The
conference,s main objectives were to raise awareness of TIP
and provide a forum where federal and provincial government
agencies and NGOs could coordinate their efforts to combat
TIP. Post helped to bring down Senior Special Agent Katerina
Karousos, an expert on TIP issues from U.S. Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE), to give a presentation at the
conference, where she discussed ICE's involvement in TIP
investigations, victims, rights, and successful prosecutions
of TIP offenders in the United States. The conference
attracted over 100 participants, including provincial public
defenders, judges, lawyers, and the general public.

F) OTHER SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS

The United Nations, International Office of Migration (IOM),
in conjunction with Save the Children Sweden and the Catholic
Church's Center for the Study of Latin American Migration
(CEMLA), has developed a program called "Prevention of child
trade, trafficking and sexual exploitation in the Tri-Border
area: Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.8 The focus is on
education as a means of prevention, primarily through use of
learning materials at schools. These materials ) TV and
radio ads, printed brochures, and signs on the streets )
have been produced in Portuguese, Spanish and Guarani, and
will provide basic information about how the victims are
usually captured, security measures to prevent that
situation, and contact information in the three cities of the
Tri-Border area where the victims can request assistance.
WAYNE

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