Cablegate: Lawsuit Against Daewoosa Trafficking Victims

Published: Tue 27 Apr 2004 02:10 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
Ref: A. Su-Moeling email 4/26/04 B. Hanoi 336
1. (U) Ref A contained documents originally provided by
G/TIP allegedly supporting the assertion that the GVN sued
victims in the Daewoosa trafficking case to recover the back
wages they were paid in the U.S. as part of the court
settlement. It also described G/TIP's position that this
lawsuit was indicative of the GVN's failure to protect
victims of trafficking. Embassy Hanoi has reviewed the
documents in detail and consulted with the Hanoi Lawyers'
Association and the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and Social
Affairs' Department of Overseas Labor. Our conclusion is
that the documents do not indeed support G/TIP's position.
2. (U) The Ref A documents show that IMS, the labor company
whose CEO and CFO were convicted and jailed in Vietnam for
their illegal actions in this case, was required by the GVN
to advance the amount of the agreed back wages in cash to
the victims upon their return to Vietnam, plus USD 250, or a
total of USD 1,750. According to court documents included
in ref A, this was done to ensure that the victims were not
destitute while waiting for the money from Daewoosa to
arrive. In order to receive the advance, the victims were
required to promise to return USD 1,500 of the advance to
IMS upon receipt of the back wages award. The court
documents included in Ref A email indicate that the
defendants, including Nguyen Thi Mai Hoa, declined to
fulfill their end of the contract upon receipt of the
Daewoosa funds delivered by the U.S. Embassy. IMS then sued
to recover the funds lent to Hoa under the agreement.
3. (U) In simpler language, the victims received the back
wages twice -- once as a GVN-ordered loan from IMS to the
victims upon their return to Vietnam, and then again as a
cash settlement payment by Daewoosa facilitated by the U.S.
Embassy. The terms of the advance required the victims to
pay back USD 1,500 of the original USD 1,750 advanced
temporarily by IMS. Thus, the GVN's actions were to ensure
prompt access to funds for recently returned victims, plus
an additional USD 250.
4. (U) Comment: These actions did not, as apparently argued
by G/TIP, represent a "clear failure to protect its TIP
victims." After examining the evidence, we come to the
opposite conclusion: in making sure that these victims had
money to live, and forcing the offending labor company to
advance the amount of their compensation, the GVN both
protected the victims and punished the trafficker. The fact
that the company had to sue the victims to force them to
comply with their contractual obligation to refund the
advance is not relevant to the GVN's ability or willingness
to protect trafficking victims.
5. (U) Comment, continued: We also would like to underscore
that, under the 2003 labor code (as reported Ref B), the
practice of labor export companies requiring substantial
cash fees (beyond one month's wages) from laborers before
providing them with labor contracts is illegal and
punishable by a fine or a jail term. What happened to the
Daewoosa victims is now (and was then) a violation of
Vietnamese law.
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