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Cablegate: Niger: Tip Tier 3 Reassessment

VZCZCXYZ0004
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNM #0610/01 2320553
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 200553Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 5269

UNCLAS NIAMEY 000610

DEPT FOR AF/W, AF/RSA, G - A C Blank, G/TIP, AND DRL/EA
PLS PASS TO USAID FOR AFR/W

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KTIP KCRM KWMN PGOV PHUM SMIG NG
SUBJECT: Niger: TIP Tier 3 Reassessment

REF: State 81476

1. This update provides Embassy Niamey's response to reftel para 4.

2. The Government of Niger (GON) has not yet enacted legislation
drafted in 2006 prohibiting human trafficking. Embassy Niamey,
however, continues to prod the GON to do so. Efforts to prosecute
and punish trafficking offenders, particularly those guilty of
slavery offenses, are weak in the absence of legislation prohibiting
human trafficking. There have been very few prosecutions and
convictions of trafficking cases based on other provisions of the
penal code.

3. Appeals continue in the slavery case against Naroua, Hadizatou
Mani's master. On July 21, 2009, the tribunal of Birni N'Konni
convicted and sentenced him to a two year suspended term, and
ordered him to pay one million CFA ($2,000) in damages to Hadizatou
and a fine of CFA 500,000 ($1,000) to the State of Niger. On July
25, 2009, Naroua complained that the sentence was excessive, and
filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals of Niamey. The same
day, Nigerien human rights non-governmental organization (NGO)
Timidria counter-appealed before the same court, claiming that the
sentence against Naroua was not sufficiently stringent. No date has
been set for hearings.

4. Efforts continue to rescue victims of traditional slavery
practices. Embassy Niamey inquired regarding NGO reports of
Nigerien girls sold to Nigerian businessmen in Zaria, Nigeria. NGOs
reported that they had brought the issue to various Government of
Niger (GON) ministries, including those of Justice; Women's
Promotion and Children's Protection; and Interior, Public Security,
and Decentralization, which promised to investigate. To date, the
pertinent ministers have not responded. Embassy Niamey also
received information that two women had been released by their
"husbands" and that they had returned to their families in Niger and
gotten married to men of their choice.

5. Efforts to educate the public about the law criminalizing
traditional slavery practices in Niger during the past several
months have included the following:

-- On April 3, 2009, ECOWAS ministers adopted a policy that would
provide the region with a legal mechanism for protecting and
assisting victims of trafficking. The policy commits member states
to providing victims of trafficking in persons (TIP) equitable
access to assistance programs to facilitate their reintegration as
functional members of society. The policy's core areas include
reception, identification, sheltering, health, counseling, family
tracing, return/repatriation, integration, empowerment, follow-up,
after care, and disengagement of victims;

-- On April 27, 2009, Niger's Christian Workers Association
organized a sensitization seminar on the working conditions of
household helpers and restaurant service workers. The seminar aimed
to educate participants on their rights and on the prevention of
risks that their work may involve; these included various forms of
exploitation and trafficking;

-- On June 10-12, 2009, on the occasion of the World Day Against
Child Labor, the International Labor Organization International
Program for the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO/IPEC) organized
public events and a conference aimed at raising awareness on the
issues Niger faces in combating the worst forms of child labor and
child trafficking;

-- On June 16, 2009, Niger's First Lady and the Minister of Women's
Promotion and Children's Protection chaired a town hall meeting to
sensitize the public on the occasion of the African Children's Day.
Several cabinet members, diplomats, international organization
representatives, NGOs, and the public attended the event. The
Minister of Women's Promotion and Children's Protection stressed the
GON's commitment to implementing the relevant ILO conventions
ratified by Niger, notably ILO Convention 182, in order to improve
the situation of Niger's children. The Minister called on the
population to "massively" participate in all of the child protection
sensitization sessions; she also urged the media to provide
extensive coverage of the activities. During the event, the
Coalition of NGOs and Associations supporting Childhood in Niger
(CONAFE-Niger) conducted public advocacy in which it welcomed
"encouraging progress" in child protection; however, CONAFE-Niger
"deplores the National Committee on Child Survival's lethargy and
the lack of resources to facilitate its work...CONAFE-Niger is
deeply concerned by the non-adoption of the Children's Code and the
anti-trafficking law, and the inexistence of several legal
provisions;"

-- On June 25, 2009, Embassy officers visited three artisanal gold
mines in Tillabery region, and noted that the GON and several NGOs
have invested in both infrastructure and social programs to combat
child labor and trafficking; and
-- On July 28, 2009, the Nigerien Association for the Fight against
Delinquency (ANTD), a local NGO working on child labor and
trafficking, and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA)
organized a three-day workshop to sensitize marabouts (religious
teachers) on the promotion of rights and the fight against
children's forced and illegal migration. Ambassador Allen opened
the workshop, and reiterated USG and her strong personal support for
efforts to combat child labor and trafficking.

6. Comment: Niger has very limited resources; since May GON
officials at all levels have been distracted by the campaign for a
referendum to adopt a new constitution. In July, the GON issued a
circular directing all government officials, international
organizations, NGOs, and other donors to postpone seminars and other
events until after the referendum. The Ministry of Social Affairs
and Labor's Human Rights Director, a key contact on TIP issues,
received a new portfolio in June. The GON appointed her replacement
in mid-August. End comment.

ALLEN

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