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Cablegate: G/Tip Visit Reveals Progress, Challenges in Ethiopia

VZCZCXRO3287
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #2648/01 3131342
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 091342Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6764
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 002648

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/TIP: RYOUSEY, MFORSTROM; AF/E: JWIEGERT

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KTIP PHUM PGOV SMIG ELAB KWMN PREL EAID DJ SU ET
SUBJECT: G/TIP VISIT REVEALS PROGRESS, CHALLENGES IN ETHIOPIA

REF: ADDIS ABABA 2314

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The Government of Ethiopia (GoE) continues to take steps
to curb the international trafficking of Ethiopian citizens, but is
challenged by economic realities, limited law enforcement capacity,
and ever-changing trafficking patterns. To combat international
trafficking, the GoE passed a new labor law and has initiated
training targeting legal professionals. In contrast, efforts to
combat (or even recognize) internal trafficking remain extremely
limited. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Meetings held during an October 12-16 visit by Rachel
Yousey, of the Office to Combat and Monitor Trafficking in Persons
(G/TIP), provided insight into current trafficking patterns within
and originating from Ethiopia, as well as GoE, non-governmental
organization (NGO), and international organization efforts to curb
trafficking within and out of the country.

UPDATE ON TRAFFICKING PATTERNS
------------------------------

3. (SBU) According to Meseret Taddese, Executive Director of Forum
on Street Children Ethiopia (FSCE), and Mulu Haile, Director of the
Multipurpose Community Development Project (MCDP), more girls than
boys are currently trafficked within Ethiopia. Most girls are
trafficked to work as domestic laborers, although girls are
increasingly trafficked for sexual exploitation. Boys are usually
trafficked for a specific form of manual labor, based on the skills
for which their tribe is known (e.g., weaving in the SNNP region,
herding among the Oromo, guarding and shop keeping among the
Gurage).

4. (SBU) Meseret and Josiah Ogina, Head of the International
Organization for Migration's Ethiopia Mission, told Yousey and
PolOff that two new trafficking patterns have developed in the last
one to two years: one from Amhara region to Djibouti and the
Ethiopia-Djibouti border, and the other from Oromia region to Sudan.
In Amhara region, traffickers recruit young women by promising to
secure them high-paying jobs in Djibouti, but then transport them to
tent cities that serve truckers along the Ethiopia-Djibouti border.
While women are generally not forced to stay, they have no means to
return home and are shamed by the great expense their families have
paid on their behalf (often over 300 USD, the equivalent of a year's
salary), and remain in the camps working as cooks, shopkeepers, or
prostitutes.

5. (SBU) In Oromia region, agents recruit young Muslim women by
promising them high salaried work as domestic workers in Sudan, only
to force them into prostitution in brothels in Khartoum or near
Sudan's oil fields. Ogina noted that many urban emigrants also use
Sudan as a jumping-off point to be smuggled to Europe or North
Africa, lending credibility to agents offering to find rural
migrants work in Sudan. The 3000-4000 USD fee charged to smuggle
urban migrants is usually paid for by family members living abroad.


6. (SBU) Meseret reported that increasing numbers of children are
being trafficked to Djibouti and Sudan for sexual exploitation. He
also noted that boys are easily trafficked into Djibouti to serve as
shop assistants or errand boys because they are not noticed by
immigration officials alert only to women being trafficked into
prostitution.

TRAFFICKERS WARY OF ANTI-TIP EFFORTS
------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Kassa Kere and Solomon Sima, also of FSCE, told Yousey and
PolOff that traffickers have become more adept at eluding police and
NGO efforts to curb trafficking. Child traffickers have learned to
avoid the joint FSCE-Addis Ababa Police "Child Protection Unit" at
the city's main bus terminal, where hundreds of children have been
rescued over the past few years. They now disembark outside the
city, where police and social workers are not trained to recognize
trafficking patterns. Likewise, brothel owners in Addis Ababa have
learned they will be targeted by NGOs and (to a lesser extent)
police if they "employ" children, and so no longer have young girls
living on-site, but rather rent rooms to the girls on a short-term
per-client basis, so they are considered less of a liability.

REVISED LABOR LAW HOLDS PROMISE
-------------------------------

8. (SBU) The GoE has taken significant action to curb international

ADDIS ABAB 00002648 002 OF 003


trafficking in the past, and toward this goal revised the labor law
governing overseas work in August, 2009. Saud Mohammed, Director of
Employment Service Promotion at the Ministry of Labor and Social
Affairs (MoLSA), praised the revision for granting MoLSA greater
authority to govern employment agencies that send Ethiopians abroad.
The new law requires Ethiopian agencies or their local affiliates
to maintain a shelter for abused workers in each country where they
operate, increases the cash and bond deposits that agencies must
provide as collateral in the event that a worker's contract is
broken, enables MoLSA to more readily seize that collateral, and
mandates the establishment of labor attach positions at Ethiopian
diplomatic missions abroad. (Comment: Limited provision of
consular services for Ethiopian workers abroad has been a weakness
in GoE efforts. End comment.) Ethiopian Private Employment
Agencies' Association board members Tefera Tadesse and Amha Tesfaye,
on the other hand, criticized the new law for tightening
restrictions on employment agencies. They told Yousey and PolOff
that as the GoE made business more difficult for them, the number of
Ethiopians working abroad illegally had increased.

9. (SBU) Saud admitted that Parliament had not provided funding for
labor attachs, and that MoLSA would not likely be able to establish
such positions in the near future. He also noted that while MoLSA
collects information on employment agencies - including complaints
from workers overseas - this information is not available to the
public. IOM is currently helping MoLSA develop an electronic
repository for this information, and Saud hoped this data would be
made public in the future.

TRAINING LEGAL PROFESSIONALS AND CONSULAR OFFICERS
--------------------------------------------- ------

10. (SBU) Another area of progress has been the GoE's willingness to
incorporate trafficking into training for judges, prosecutors, and
police. In July 2009, the Supreme Court's Justice Professionals
Training Center agreed to incorporate TIP training into its
curriculum, working jointly with Project Concern International, a
G/TIP-funded NGO (reftel). During this visit, the Ministry of
Justice's Legal Training Division professed interest in providing
similar training.

11. (SBU) Separately, Ambassador Halima Mohamed, Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Director General for Women's Empowerment, acknowledged that
despite the Ministry's instruction to its diplomatic missions to
provide more comprehensive services to Ethiopian workers abroad, and
TIP victims in particular, little progress had been made. Halima
stated that at present, consular officers do not receive any TIP or
labor rights training before entering service, and agreed that
providing such training was needed to improve consular services.
Yousey noted that in other countries, U.S. Missions had been able to
provide such training, and Halima was receptive to this idea.
(Comment: Post will work with G/TIP and MFA to further explore this
possibility. End comment.)

EFFORTS TO CURB INTERNAL TIP STILL LACKING
------------------------------------------

12. (SBU) Numerous NGOs reported receiving cooperation from regional
and state governments, state-owned enterprises, and local police.
For example, the SNNP regional government provides free radio time
to MCDP to air anti-trafficking outreach programming, the Addis
Ababa police provide full-time police officers to staff Child
Protection Units alongside social workers from FSCE, and the
Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation provides free long-distance
telephone service and the assistance of its employees across the
country to FSCE. However, nearly all NGO contacts stated that the
majority of police officers (aside from those detailed to CPUs) had
little understanding of TIP, and that their organizations received
little support from the MoJ. Others stated that judges and local
administrators did not consider internal trafficking a serious
problem.

13. (SBU) Fekadu Tsega, Addis Ababa Administration Deputy
Prosecutor, and Assistant Prosecutor Hailemariam Temesgen stated
that they were not aware that a case of internal trafficking in
persons had ever been prosecuted in Ethiopia. In a moment of
extraordinary candor, Hailemariam said it was unlikely any cases of
internal trafficking would be prosecuted in the near future because
many GoE officials believed trafficking victims needed employment to
lift them from extreme poverty, no matter how horrific the
conditions of that work. He further stated that many Ethiopians
believed trafficked children were better off in prostitution than
they would be starving, so long as the children were above age 15.
Fekadu noted that there were a few child exploitation cases pending,
but they were weak, and the prosecutor's only goal was to prevent
"huge damage." In response to Yousey's questioning what trafficking

ADDIS ABAB 00002648 003 OF 003


cases might be sufficient to merit prosecution, Hailemariam stated
that cases involving murder, rape, sexual abuse, and severe physical
abuse would fall into that category.

COMMENT
-------

14. (SBU) Extreme poverty in Ethiopia and the promise of greater
opportunity abroad or in urban areas draw many Ethiopians into
situations of trafficking and extreme physical and emotional abuse.
Traffickers are wise to GoE and NGO efforts to curb trafficking, and
new trafficking patterns present challenges to even the best law
enforcement efforts. While the GoE has enacted policy changes and
committed resources to prevent international trafficking, more work
lies ahead. Moreover, the GoE has done very little to prevent or
address internal trafficking - and officials admitted that it will
likely do little in the near future.

15. (SBU) All groups with which Yousey and PolOff spoke stated that
better GoE inter-ministerial coordination was needed to curb
trafficking from and within Ethiopia, namely in the form of the
Inter-ministerial Trafficking Task Force, which has not met in two
years. IOM and EU representatives in Addis are in the early stages
of developing a strategy to move the GoE toward a more
comprehensive, coordinated anti-TIP policy, and post will join those
efforts and initiate its own where appropriate. Post will continue
to encourage the GoE to conduct anti-TIP outreach, including the
training of legal and diplomatic staff, providing technical support
where possible. END COMMENT.

16. (U) This message has been cleared by Rachel Yousey.

MCBRIDE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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