Cablegate: National Standing Committee On Tip Reflects On 2009 And

Published: Wed 30 Dec 2009 05:29 AM
DE RUEHHI #1436/01 3640530
O R 300529Z DEC 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: National Standing Committee on TIP Reflects on 2009 and
hopes for improved engagement in 2010
1. (SBU) Summary: In a December 10 meeting with the Political
Counselor, Colonel Le Van Chuong, the chair of Vietnam's
coordinating agency on trafficking, National Committee 130,
reviewed his country's efforts over the past year to combat human
trafficking. The Ministry of Public Security reported that in
2009, Vietnam focused on a) improving the capacity of its ongoing
anti-trafficking programs, b) expanding the legal definition of
trafficking to include men, c) working to improve bilateral
relationships with its neighbors, and d) beginning the process of
developing the next National Action Plan on Human Trafficking for
2011-2020. NC-130 estimated that in 2009, 250 victims had been
rescued through police operations, some coordinated with foreign
governments, and approximately 500 victims had been received at the
borders or through diplomatic channels. MPS also reported 350
trafficking cases and the arrest of 500 suspects. In 2010, Vietnam
intends to focus on labor export, foreign marriages and expanded
TIP awareness programs. Key legislative goals in 2010 include the
passage of a comprehensive law on trafficking to supersede current
piecemeal legislative efforts and approval of a proposal before the
National Assembly to ratify the UN Convention on Transnational
Organized Crime. Chuong stated that Vietnam had studied the TIP
Report and welcomed further engagement with the United States. End
2. (SBU) On December 10, PolCouns and the Poloff responsible for
TIP reporting and advocacy met with Colonel Le Van Chuong, the head
of Vietnam's National Committee 130 (NC-130), a national-level
steering committee headed by the Ministry of Public Security (MPS)
that is responsible for coordinating the government's
anti-trafficking activities. Chuong emphasized that NC-130 met
with USG officials more frequently than with any other country to
discuss trafficking in persons, an indication he said of his
government's desire to work with the U.S. government. He
reaffirmed that Vietnam remained committed to combating trafficking
-- from the grassroots to the national level -- and said that
NC-130 greatly appreciated the U.S. government's continuing
interest and concern.
3. (SBU) Chuong said TIP remained a complicated and challenging
issue for Vietnam and cited poverty, high unemployment, and
widespread gender inequality as factors that left many poor
Vietnamese vulnerable to trafficking. He said that economic
development, together with legal reform, awareness-raising efforts
(particularly in rural communities), improved victim assistance,
and enhanced regional and international cooperation, would help
address the problem. Like other GVN officials, Chuong also pointed
to "foreign influences" as a source of much of the problem, noting
that increasing regional and international integration had
contributed to trafficking, particularly in the form of fake
foreign marriage brokers, trafficking to China, and export labor
2009 TIP Highlights: Legal Reform
4. (SBU) Colonel Chuong emphasized efforts this year to make
several important changes to Vietnam's legal code to address human
trafficking this year. First, in June, the National Assembly
approved an amendment to Article 119 that broadened the definition
of human trafficking to include men, a move he stressed would
enable men to make use of victim support services. In July, the
government introduced a new regulation designed to prevent fraud in
foreign marriages. And in October, Deputy Prime Minister (and
Politburo member) Truong Vinh Trong chaired an extensive review of
the five-year implementation of its National Plan of Action on the
Trafficking of Women and Children (reftel). Twenty-five embassies
and international organizations were present at that event. Chuong
said the Ministry of Justice was still working on Vietnam's
comprehensive law on human trafficking, which he hoped would be
presented to the National Assembly for passage in 2010.
5. (SBU) In addition to legal reform, Chuong said Vietnam also
improved its regional cooperation efforts, noting that MPS and the
Ministry of Defense's Border Guards developed a mechanism to
exchange information and coordinate the investigations and arrests
of suspects in their efforts to fight against organized crime.
Thailand and Vietnam held a seminar this year to develop an
implementation plan based on their 2008 bilateral agreement and on
December 3, Cambodia and Vietnam also signed a bilateral agreement
to standardize procedures for returning victims. With an estimated
sixty percent of Vietnam's trafficking victims going to China,
Vietnam is working to build better relationships with their Chinese
counterparts in order to combat this serious problem involving both
countries. Chuong highlighted an April 2009 meeting with Chinese
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police in Guangxi province as one example of enhanced cross-border
efforts, and said a bilateral agreement with China is currently
being negotiated. He expects it will be signed by the Prime
Minister in 2010. (Note: During an October visit to the border
provinces of Cao Bang and Lang Son, Poloff met with MPS officials
in the provincial capitals and at the border, who emphasized that
enhanced cooperation with China has already begun, with provincial
law-enforcement officers from both sides meeting regularly to
discuss coordination. End note.) Vietnam has also been working
with Laos, Cambodia and China to establish better networks for
information sharing, including a tri-country hotline border guards
can use to collect and share TIP information. Chuong said Vietnam
also continues to work closely with INGOs on TIP-related projects.
6. (SBU) Chuong said Vietnam's improved anti-TIP efforts have led
to the investigation this year of over 350 trafficking cases, with
the arrest of 500 suspects. (Note: We have requested prosecution
figures. End note.) He estimated that 250 victims, mostly from
China and Cambodia have been rescued in police operations, some in
conjunction with coordinated police actions. Approximately 500
victims had been received at the borders or through diplomatic
channels, of which 100 were from Malaysia, Korea and Singapore.
Asked about internal trafficking, Chuong acknowledged there was a
problem, but responded that much of it remains hidden and related
to prostitution and the tourism industries.
Looking forward to 2010
7. (SBU) Looking ahead, Chuong said NC-130 would review current
projects related to public awareness, victim identification and
reintegration, as well as the legal mechanism to implement the next
National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking of Women and Children
(2011-2020), which is the GVN's blue print for anti-TIP efforts.
NC-130 would also continue working on bilateral issues and
agreements, such as the one pending with China, Chuong said.
NC-130 intended to submit a comprehensive law on TIP to the
National Assembly, Chuong said, adding that the National Assembly
would also consider the UN International Convention on Trafficking
in Persons. Chuong stated that NC-130 intended to give special
attention to trafficking as it relates to export labor,
acknowledging USG concerns in this area.
A Nod to USG Efforts
8. (SBU) Chuong referred to the 2009 TIP report and U.S. criminal
code several times during the discussion and identified potential
areas of cooperation between Vietnam and the United States. He
requested that the USG provide Vietnam with TIP success stories and
best practices from countries in similar circumstances, and pledged
to continue frank exchanges on how best to combat trafficking.
Chuong expressed the Vietnamese government's appreciation for
training efforts such as the November ILEA Bangkok training on
human trafficking, to which Vietnam sent six officers, and an
upcoming training in Roswell, New Mexico regarding law enforcement
9. (SBU) Comment: Our NC-130 interlocutors were collegial,
informative and highly interested in exchanging information, a
positive sign that our outreach efforts are paying off. NC-130's
wish list presents a window of opportunity to positively influence
Vietnam's anti-TIP activities. End Comment.
10. (U) This cable was coordinated with ConGen HCMC.
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