Cablegate: Niger - Tip Watchlist Interim Assessment

DE RUEHNM #1104/01 3240441
R 190441Z NOV 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 110849

1. Summary: Niger is taking several steps to reduce the incidence
and consequences of trafficking in persons and raise public
awareness, but needs to pass long-awaited legislation to give
authorities leverage to prosecute traffickers. End summary.
2. Updates over the past year are as follows:

A. Finalizing, passing, and enacting the 2006 draft legislation
against trafficking:

The draft trafficking in persons law has yet to be adopted. Once
adopted by the Council of Ministers, the bill would go to the
single-chamber National Assembly for consideration; passage by a
simple majority would permit the bill to proceed to the Presidency
for signature. In September 2008, the Secretary General of the
Ministry of Justice noted that failure to pass the bill would stall
other trafficking in persons reforms and efforts to prosecute
related cases.

B. Strengthen efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict
individuals guilty of slavery and other forms of human trafficking:

In the appeal regarding the July 2006 enslavement case Timidria and
Haoulata Ibrahim vs. Seidimou Hiyar, the Court of Appeals of Niamey
sentenced the defendant to two years' imprisonment (six months to be
served behind bars and 18 months suspended) and fined 100,000 FCFA
($200) in damages. While the defendant served his prison term, he
still has not paid the damages. On October 27, 2008, in a landmark
ruling regarding the case Timidria and Hadidjatou Mani Koraou vs.
the Government of Niger, the ECOWAS Court of Justice recognized that
Ms. Mani Koraou had been a victim of slavery and held the Government
of Niger responsible for the inaction of its administrative legal
services, which failed to protect a woman sold into slavery. The
court fined the Government of Niger 10 million FCFA ($20,000) in
damages to the victim. The GON said it would abide by the ruling.

In October 2008, police in Gaya arrested a man when he could not
give proof regarding his relationship with several children with
whom he was travelling. The police handed over the children to the
district of Gaya's Office of Women's Promotion and Children's
Protection. During the same period, the same office handed over 11
young girls presumed to be victims of trafficking to the Benin
border police.

C. Taking steps to rescue and assist victims of traditional

On March 20, 2008, Reagir Dans le Monde (RDM-Tanafili), a local NGO,
with support from local government officials and traditional
leaders, rescued and assisted six families of former slaves (40
people) in purchasing land from their former masters in Tajae,
Tahoua region. The GON, with support from UNICEF, established
regional committees to control child trafficking in various regions
of the country including Agadez, Niamey, Zinder, and Tillabery. So
far, 30 watchdog teams have been created in various localities to
support the regional committees.

In mid-2008, the Makalondi Welcome and Transit Center for Child
Victims of Trafficking, in cooperation with Nigerien police and
UNICEF, rescued, rehabilitated, and returned to their families 36
children. In October 2008, a local NGO partner of UNICEF with
support from GON officials rescued and commenced the rehabilitation
of 37 child trafficking victims in Agadez. The suspects were
released without charges, due to a lack of trafficking laws.

D. Adopting the draft national action plan to combat slavery and
other forms of human trafficking:

Regrettably, Niger's national action plan remains weak policy
guidance lacking in statutory authority in the absence of passage of
legislation against trafficking.

E. Increasing efforts to raise awareness about traditional slavery
practices and the law against slavery:

Public and private media broadcast sensitization campaigns; this
includes an Embassy-funded televised skit with the NGO "EPAD" on the
evils of child trafficking. Since May 2008, the skit has appeared
nightly just before and/or after the major news broadcasts on
private and state television in French and local languages. On
March 22, 2008, the French Cultural Center hosted the official
unveiling of two books on slavery in Africa, one Niger specific, at
which the Minister of Justice was a keynote speaker. On June 3,
2008, the Moslem clerics held a code of conduct workshop on
children's rights and the proper treatment of children under their
charge in Koranic schools.

On July 29-31, 2008, Niger's First Lady presided over the opening
ceremony for the Third Consultation on the Multilateral Agreement in

NIAMEY 00001104 002 OF 002

the Fight against the Trafficking of Children in West Africa. She
was joined by the Minister of Justice, Governor of Niamey, and the
Minister of Women's Promotion and Children Protection.

© Scoop Media

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