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Cablegate: Latvia: Tip Tier 2 Watch List Action Plan

VZCZCXYZ0007
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHC #9986 2401539
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281523Z AUG 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY RIGA PRIORITY 0000

UNCLAS STATE 089986

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM KWMN LG PHUM PREL SMIG KTIP
SUBJECT: LATVIA: TIP TIER 2 WATCH LIST ACTION PLAN
(2009-2010)

REF: A. 2008 STATE 132759
B. 2007 STATE 150188
C. 2009 STATE 005577
D. 2009 STATE 62182

1. (U) This is an action request (see paras 2-4).

2. (U) Begin action request: Drawing from points in para 8,
Post is requested to approach appropriate host government
officials to highlight the United States' strong commitment
to continue to work with the Government of Latvia to help
strengthen its efforts to combat and prevent trafficking in
persons (TIP) and to assist victims. Post is requested to
convey the recommendations in para 9 as a non-paper and draw
from the talking points in para 8 to explain to the host
government the need for prompt action on the first set of
recommendations for a positive review in the interim
assessment that the Department will release to Congress by
February 2010 and for movement out of the Tier 2 Watch List
in next year's Report. Additional recommendations are also
included in para 9 to aid the host government in making
progress in its overall anti-TIP efforts. The notes
indicated in brackets in the action plan are for post,s
background only and may be omitted from the non-paper. The
&Implementation Guidelines8 referenced in the action plan
notes are contained in reftel B. These guidelines provide
guidance to posts on how the Minimum Standards of the
Trafficking Victims Protection Act, as amended, (TVPA) are
implemented, and have been cleared by regional bureaus.

3. (U) Action request continued: Post is further requested
to emphasize to the Government of Latvia that the first set
of recommendations is designed to help remedy the specific
shortcomings identified in the 2009 TIP Report that resulted
in the placement of Latvia on the Tier 2 Watch List. These
recommendations are often referred to as "high-priority"
items for Tier 2 Watch List removal. However, sustained and
significant anti-trafficking efforts by the government
throughout the year will remain the basis for determining
next year's tier placement. The interim assessment for
Special Watch List countries (to include Tier 2 Watch List
countries) will provide a progress report regarding the
government's actions to address the short list
recommendations designed to address the concerns that
resulted in the country's placement on the Tier 2 Watch List
in the 2009 TIP Report (high-priority items), but there will
be no changes in tier ratings at that time. We will
reconsider the government's tier placement when we conduct
our annual full assessment for the March 2009-2010 reporting
period next spring.

4. (U) Action request continued: The Department recognizes
that Post may choose to use this opportunity to provide
additional recommendations, beyond the recommendations for
moving out of the Tier 2 Watch List. In such a case, we
request that Post make clear to the government what are the
"high-priority" items to move off of the Tier 2 Watch List.
The non-paper in para 9 includes both "high-priority"
recommendations for Tier 2 Watch List removal and
further-reaching goals for longer-term success in combating
trafficking in persons in all 3 P areas: Prosecution,
Protection, and Prevention. (For posts, background
information: G/TIP will be asking for posts to report on the
country's progress in meeting these recommendations by no
later than November 15, 2009, in order to compile narratives
for the interim assessment.)

5. (U) In preparation for the interim assessment and 2010 TIP
Report, the Department is asking posts to work with host
governments throughout the year to collect as many statistics
as possible on law enforcement actions and judicial
proceedings related to TIP crimes, specifically the
Department requests data on investigations, prosecutions,
convictions, and sentences (e.g., fines, probation, length of
prison sentences imposed, asset seizure information when
available). Whether a government collects and provides this
data consistent with the government's capacity to obtain such
data is considered in determining whether the government
qualifies for Tier 1. Law enforcement statistics, when
available, are a good way of highlighting how well a
government enforced its law and demonstrates strengths and
weaknesses in various approaches. Please note that host
governments and embassies must interpret data terms provided
by host governments such as indictments, charges, cases
disposed, cases submitted for prosecution, etc., to ensure
that they fit into one of the following categories:
investigations, prosecutions, convictions or sentences.

The Department cannot accept "trafficking-related" law
enforcement statistics (e.g, statistics on prostitution or
smuggling offenses) because their direct correlation to
trafficking crimes is not clear. The Department will accept
only law enforcement data that fall into the following
categories: (1) investigations, prosecutions, convictions,
and sentences for offenses that are explicitly defined as
trafficking; and (2) investigations, prosecutions,
convictions, and sentences for offenses that are not defined
explicitly as trafficking but in which the competent law
enforcement or judicial authority has specific evidence
indicating that the defendant was involved in trafficking.

6. (U) The Department is also asking Posts to engage with
host governments on efforts to address amendments made by the
2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act
(TVPRA). As indicated in reftel C, the TVPRA of 2008
contains a provision requiring that a country that has been
included on Tier 2 Watch List for two consecutive years after
the date of enactment of the TVPRA of 2008 be ranked as Tier
3. Thus, any automatic downgrade to Tier 3 pursuant to this
provision would take place, at the earliest, in the 2011 TIP
Report (i.e., a country would have to be ranked Tier 2 Watch
List in the 2009 and 2010 Reports before being subject to
Tier 3 in the 2011 Report). The new law allows for a waiver
of this provision for up to two additional years upon a
determination by the President that the country has developed
and devoted sufficient resources to a written plan to make
significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the
minimum standards.

7. (U) Please keep in mind the TIP Report measures host
government efforts. In order for anti-trafficking activities
financed or conducted principally by parties outside the
government to be considered for tier placement purposes, Post
needs to demonstrate a concrete role or tangible value-added
by a host government in such activities carried out by NGOs,
international organizations, or posts.

8. (U) Background Points:

Begin talking points:

-- The Obama Administration views the fight against human
trafficking, both at home and abroad, as a critical piece of
our foreign policy agenda. We are committed to making
progress on this issue in the months ahead by working closely
with partners in every country.

-- The U.S. Government's Trafficking Victims Protection Act
requires the State Department to submit an annual report to
Congress on the status of foreign governments, efforts to
combat trafficking in persons. Pursuant to the Trafficking
Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003 (TVPRA), the
Department created a special category for Tier 2 countries
that do not show increasing efforts from the previous year,
have a very significant number of victims, or whose Tier 2
rating is based on commitments to take additional steps over
the next year.

-- Also as mandated by the TVPRA, by February 2010 the
Department will submit to Congress an interim assessment. At
the end of 2009 in preparation for that submission, the
Department will conduct an assessment of Tier 2 Watch List
countries' progress in responding to the specific issues of
concern that resulted in the Tier 2 Watch List rating.

-- Latvia was placed on Tier 2 Watch List in this year's
Report because of a lack of evidence of increasing efforts to
combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the
previous year.

-- We offer the following recommended actions (Action Plan
for the Short-term) to tackle specific shortcomings
highlighted in the 2009 TIP Report. We believe these to be
within the reasonable ability of your government to fulfill
in the near-term and encourage you to take prompt action for
a positive narrative in the interim assessment. New tier
evaluations will not occur at the interim assessment. We
will reconsider a government,s tier placement when we
conduct our annual full assessment for the 2009-2010
reporting period next spring. Prompt, appropriate, and
significant actions will lead to a more favorable tier
placement; conversely, failure to address the issues
mentioned above may lead to a Tier 3 placement.

-- We would welcome the Government of Latvia,s comments on
these recommendations and any other ideas you might have to
advance our common struggle against trafficking in persons.

-- In addition to the short list of recommendations
corresponding to our concerns that resulted in your
government,s placement on the Tier 2 Watch List in the 2009
TIP Report, we offer additional suggestions of actions that
your government may choose to take (Action Plan for the Long
term). These further measures would be in addition to
Latvia,s continuation of its current efforts to combat
trafficking in persons.

End talking points.

9. (SBU) Begin Action Plan:

A. Action Plan for the Short-Term: The following are
recommended measures for a positive interim assessment in
January 2010 and in the broader assessment of government
efforts during the reporting period:

-- Consider simplifying the victim assistance certification
process and ensure a greater number of victims are provided
access to government-funded assistance (per the Social
Services and Social Assistance Law enacted in 2006).

-- Increase efforts to identify victims of trafficking among
vulnerable populations, such as women and girls in
prostitution, and refer these victims for assistance.

-- Increase efforts to prosecute and convict labor
trafficking offenders.

-- Ensure that a majority of convicted traffickers serve some
time in prison.

B. Other areas the government should consider for action to
boost its overall anti-trafficking efforts:

Prosecution:
----------------

-- Ensure law enforcement, border guards, and labor
inspectors receive labor trafficking training.

-- Make efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and
sentence to imprisonment individuals responsible for
recruiting victims for the purpose of trafficking within
Latvia.

Protection:
----------------

-- Ensure foreign victims of trafficking are safely, and to
the best extent possible, voluntarily repatriated to their
country of origin after receiving access to victim services.
Safe repatriation involves destination countries contacting a
competent governmental body, NGO, or international
organization in the relevant source country to ensure that
the trafficked persons who return to their country of origin
are provided with assistance and support necessary to their
well-being.

-- Take steps to expand available victim services to areas
outside of Riga.

-- Work with NGOs to improve services available to victims of
trafficking; improve communication and coordination with
anti-trafficking NGOs.

Prevention:
-----------------

-- Increase efforts to raise general public awareness about
both sex and labor trafficking.

-- Increase government awareness of trafficking trends
involving foreign victims exploited within Latvia.

End non-paper.

10. (U) The Department thanks post for its continued
efforts to address trafficking in persons issues.
CLINTON

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