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Cablegate: Argentina: Training Workshop Builds Local Capacity To


DE RUEHBU #1103/01 2781432
R 051432Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary. A one-week USG-funded workshop on
trafficking-in-persons (TIP) helped mobilize Argentine federal
judges and prosecutors to address procedural shortcomings in
Argentine TIP investigations. G/TIP Ambassador Luis CdeBaca and
Department of Justice Federal Prosecutor James Felte kick-started
the event with an audio conference focused on successful USG efforts
to prosecute trafficking cases. An Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent provided concrete guidance on
developing TIP cases and described ICE's experience in cooperating
with overseas law enforcement to combat the challenge. Ambassador
Martinez closed the event, congratulating Argentina for its
increasing efforts to fight TIP and praising a recent federal court
decision that affirmed the principle that no one can consent to
their own exploitation. She encouraged further Argentine steps to
ensure successful prosecution of traffickers and to further extend
services to victims. End Summary.

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2. (U) Thanks to a grant awarded by the Office to Monitor and
Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) to local judicial NGO Unidos
por la Justicia, post helped organize a workshop focused on training
judges and federal prosecutors on how to investigate and prosecute
trafficking in persons (TIP) cases. Approximately 30 judges and
prosecutors representing federal and provincial jurisdictions
participated in the week-long workshop, which took place September
21-25. Trainers from the anti-TIP NGO, Maria de los Angeles
Foundation, also participated as observers.

3. (U) G/TIP Ambassador CdeBaca and Department of Justice Federal
Prosecutor James Felte kick-started the conference
with a presentation focused on successful USG efforts to prosecute
trafficking cases. They described the evidence and strategies the
USG regularly uses to successfully counter the traffickers' legal
defenses, and emphasized that confidential informants and undercover
investigations are powerful tools in developing a case against a
human trafficking ring. In a lively question-and-answer session,
participants asked what evidence can be presented to prove human
trafficking occurred. Felte noted that multiple victims reporting
similar stories offer powerful evidence in court. Testimony from
neighbors can be useful. Going through a suspected location's trash
for evidence can also be used to corroborate victim accounts.
Participants noted the difficulty of maintaining contact with
victims so that they can appear in court when cases finally reach
oral trial. Ambassador CdeBaca explained that this is the reason
why comprehensive victims' assistance is crucial to developing a
case, as it increases the possibility that victims will ultimately
testify to denounce their captors.

--------------------------------------------- -
Lack of Domestic and International Cooperation
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (U) Although Argentine law grants jurisdiction to the federal
courts to investigate and prosecute traffickers, the workshop
trainers emphasized the importance of greater coordination and
information sharing between the federal and provincial governments.
This cooperation is particularly critical because trafficking
networks often act in tandem with other criminal networks, such as
drug and arms traffickers. Participants lamented the very limited
cross-border information sharing and investigations in South
America, and confirmed that even inter-province cooperation in
Argentina is deficient.

5. (U) Argentine National Director for Migration Martin Arias Duval
informed participants that his agency manages a comprehensive
immigration database that can be a useful tool for officials
investigating TIP. He noted that neighboring countries have similar
databases, but acknowledged that the quality of the databases varies
considerably and that no cross-country database is currently
available. He identified the need to consolidate immigration
records from the entire Southern Cone region into one international
database and noted that the Inter-American Development Bank is
currently considering funding such a project. He concluded his
presentation with an appeal for improved coordination, saying that
the fight against TIP cannot afford ideological or turf battles. He
encouraged the audience to include his agency in developing cases
against trafficking networks.

6. (U) Participants also noted that some judges and prosecutors
have teamed up by creating networks that help to share information

about potential trafficking cases. However, in order to effectively
combat TIP and other organized crimes, participants argued that
judges and prosecutors need to receive greater protection.

--------------------------------------------- --
Can a Victim "Consent" to Her Own Exploitation?
--------------------------------------------- --

7. (U) By far the most passionately discussed topic at the
conference was the issue of "consent." Although the current law
already recognizes that minors cannot consent to their own
exploitation and that any adult consent achieved by deception,
coercion, or force is invalid, the majority of the participants
argued that the concept of "consent" should be completely erased
from the Argentine TIP laws. While recognizing the strong
sentiments in the room against the idea that a victim could consent
to her own exploitation, Federal Judge and workshop trainer Ariel
Lijo argued that this issue is normally easily resolved by
introducing evidence of deception, coercion, or force.

"Organ Bank" Allegations

8. (U) In addition to discussing sexual exploitation, the workshop
focuses briefly on allegations that traffickers remove and sell
their victims' organs. One trainer, Stetson University Law
Professor Luz Estella Nagle, characterized this reputed practice as
modern-day apartheid, because "the poor are converted into banks of
organs for the rich." Although they maintained that removal of
victim's organs is more frequently perpetrated in Brazil and China,
participants alleged the problem exists in Argentina as well.

--------------------------------------------- -------- Balancing
Victim's Protection with the Need to Pursue Traffickers
--------------------------------------------- --------

9. (U) Participants emphasized that addressing trafficking required
greater attention to ensuring the safety of the victims and their
families than did drug or arms trafficking crimes. Federal Judge
Lijo said that judicial and law enforcement authorities must
evaluate risks at each stage of an investigation, giving priority to
victim protection prior to ordering a raid, investigation, or
prosecution. Participants admitted that it is difficult to achieve
an appropriate balance between protecting victims and pursuing

10. Participants emphasized that in many instances the victim's
testimony is crucial to the prosecution of the traffickers, but that
the victim will not wish to testify. Even though Article 23 of the
Argentine Criminal Code allows trafficking victims to seek civil
damages from their traffickers, many victims remain mute out of
fear. Unfortunately, Argentina's witness protection regime only
applies to witnesses in drug trafficking cases, making it difficult
to provide medium-term protection to human trafficking victims. In
addition, participants noted that unlike the U.S. system, Argentina
does not allow plea bargaining, which makes it difficult to offer
immunity or reduced sentences for key evidence against the leaders
of trafficking rings.

ICE Presentation

11. (U) The Mission's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
Attache supported participation at the event by Special Agent Raul
Aguilar, who gave multiple presentations throughout the week
explaining how ICE works with foreign, federal, state, and local law
enforcement authorities, as well as civil society and the media, to
dismantle trafficking networks that prey on the most vulnerable.
Using multi-media presentations, he walked participants through a
child smuggling case, explaining the factors that went into the
decision to investigate a lead developed by media sources, as well
as the logistics for and difficulties encountered in conducting an
undercover investigation. He also noted the power of the Internet
in developing leads and gathering evidence for TIP cases.

Ambassador's Remarks and Press Coverage

12. (U) In her first speech in Argentina since arriving at post six
days earlier, the Ambassador closed the event on September 24,

congratulating Argentina for its increasing efforts to fight TIP and
praising a recent federal court decision that affirmed the principle
that no one can consent to their own exploitation. She underscored
the USG's commitment to supporting Argentina in eradicating the
crime, and encouraged the GOA to effectively prosecute traffickers
and to extend its services to victims. Daily newspaper-of-record
"La Nacion" favorably reported the event in its weekend coverage.


13. (U) The TIP training workshop is the first of two organized by
local implementing partner Unidos por la Justicia. Post will
continue to work with the Argentine government and civil society
organizations such as Unidos to strengthen Argentine capacity to
effectively combat this important human rights and law enforcement


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