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Cablegate: Tip: Hong Kong Would Be "Disappointed" with A

VZCZCXRO2086
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHHK #0039 0070229
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 070229Z JAN 10
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9347
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS HONG KONG 000039

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/TIP, G, DRL, INL, EAP/RSP, EAP/CM, JAKARTA FOR
TERRY KINNEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KTIP KCRM PHUM SMIG HK MC
SUBJECT: TIP: HONG KONG WOULD BE "DISAPPOINTED" WITH A
CONTINUED TIER 2 RANKING

REF: HONG KONG 2340

1. (SBU) On December 30, E/P Chief and Poloff met with Hong
Kong Security Bureau, Police and Labor Department officials
to follow up on G/TIP Ambassador Luis CdeBaca's December 4
visit. The HKG officials appreciated Ambassador CdeBaca's
visit and hoped he left with the "ground truth" that Hong
Kong did not have a systemic trafficking-in-persons (TIP)
problem. The officials acknowledged that occasional cases of
labor exploitation of foreign domestic workers (FDWs)
occurred but Hong Kong's anti-TIP regime was equipped to
handle them. Labor officials highlighted the 140 cases of
underpayment to FDWs they prosecuted in 2009, noting these
successful convictions had been publicized to deter others
from underpaying workers.

2. (SBU) Labor officials maintained that the high debt FDWs
incurred to come to Hong Kong was a source country problem,
not Hong Kong's. Labor officials told us that Secretary for
Labor and Welfare Matthew Cheung pressed the new Indonesian
Minister for Manpower and Transmigration Muhaimin Iskandar
during the latter's recent visit to Hong Kong to lower fees
charged to the workers. Iskandar told Cheung the Indonesian
government was looking to lower fees for government-issued
documents such as passports and visas, but training fees
charged by recruitment agencies were market-driven and not
under the government's control, according to the Labor
official. The Indonesian government, however, was exploring
decentralizing the training provided to FDWs which Hong Kong
Labor officials believed would result in greater competition
and lower training fees.

3. (SBU) While insisting that most FDWs took out loans from
Indonesia-based financial institutions to pay training and
administrative fees, Hong Kong police officials said they
were looking at ways to investigate whether Hong Kong
financial institutions were offering loans with terms that
increased the financial burden on FDWs.

4. (SBU) Contending last year's Tier 2 ranking was unfair, a
senior Security Bureau official repeated a question the Chief
Secretary had asked Ambassador CdeBaca, i.e. if the U.S. was
"moving the goal posts" on TIP (see ref). Poloff insisted
the tier rankings had always been based on a governments'
compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of
trafficking as laid out in the U.S. Trafficking Victims
Protection Act. The senior official insisted Hong Kong had
"walked the extra mile" to increase dialogue with local
Consulates and reach out to NGOs. He stated that it would be
"disappointing" if the U.S. disregarded Hong Kong's overall
efforts again. The official stressed that Hong Kong could
not accept being in "second place" to other Asian countries
on human rights matters.

5. Hong Kong government participants included:

Wing Chit Ngai, Under Secretary for Security
Wing Hang Chow, Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
Ida Kit Ching Ng, Assistant Secretary for Security
Rudy Hui, Assistant Secretary for Security
Ngai Fong, Assistant Commissioner for Labor
Drew Lai, Senior Administrative Officer (Policy Support),
Labor Department
Adrian Kwan, Superintendent, Organized Crime and Triad
Bureau, Hong Kong Police
MARUT

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