US embassy cable - 03HANOI2323

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN VIETNAM

Identifier: 03HANOI2323
Wikileaks: View 03HANOI2323 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Hanoi
Created: 2003-09-15 00:10:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Tags: KWMN KCRM VM CH TW CA OMIG TIP
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 002323 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR G/TIP, EAP/BCLTV, EAP/RSP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KWMN, KCRM, VM, CH, TW, CA, OMIG, TIP 
SUBJECT:  TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IN VIETNAM 
 
REF:  A.  HANOI 527    B.  HANOI 3000 
 
1. (U)  This is an action request -- see para 5. 
 
2. (U)  Summary: A large interagency conference chaired by 
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Gia Khiem in Ho Chi Minh City 
September 9 articulated the GVN's intended next steps in a 
coordinated antitrafficking policy.  The Deputy Prime 
Minister recommended that the government propose a long-term 
program of action and designate a lead agency.  The GVN's 
strategy tracked closely with the objectives of the USG- 
funded UNODC Vietnam antitrafficking project, which the 
Ministry of Public Security has recently signed and 
approved.  This likely shows that USG assistance is having a 
positive effect and is guiding at least some of the GVN's 
thinking on trafficking.  Current NGO and international 
organization antitrafficking activities in Vietnam are thin, 
but coordinated, and would be even more effective given 
greater resources and a more coherent GVN strategy.   End 
summary. 
 
Trafficking situation in Vietnam 
-------------------------------- 
 
3. (U) According to UNICEF and Interpol estimates, "tens of 
thousands" of Vietnamese women and children have been 
trafficked to third countries in the last three to five 
years.  The problem can be roughly divided along geographic 
lines, with victims in the north mostly trafficked to the 
PRC for marriage, labor, sex industry work, and adoption. 
(Note: in cases of Vietnamese infants trafficked to China 
for adoption, the victims are almost always male newborns. 
They are usually kidnapped from their parents in northern 
Vietnam and provided for fee-based adoption in China.)  In 
the south, most victims are trafficked to Cambodia to work 
in the sex industry, though a sizeable number (estimated 
1,200 per month) of women from the Mekong Delta go to Taiwan 
for arranged marriages.  It is not known how many of the 
women who go to Taiwan (or to a lesser extent, Korea) are 
trafficked, but some definitely are. 
 
4. (U) The lack of hard data complicates efforts to evaluate 
and respond to the trafficking problem in Vietnam.  UNICEF 
and Interpol both admit that their estimates are more 
guesses than concrete information.  The GVN does not 
maintain statistics, and what information it does provide is 
compromised by the fact that very few police or security 
officials make a distinction between trafficking and alien 
smuggling (there appears to be only one term in Vietnamese 
for both).  UNODC has submitted a project proposal that 
would collect some more useful and reliable data on 
trafficking in Vietnam (ref b), and we are waiting for 
Washington's response to this proposal. 
 
5.  (U)  Action request:  Embassy would welcome an update or 
response to ref b proposal as soon as possible. 
 
GVN response 
------------ 
 
6. (U) Within the GVN, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) 
unit liaison with Interpol is also the designated 
investigative authority for trafficking cases.  On the 
policy and prevention side, MPS shares responsibility with 
the Ministry of Justice, the Women's Union (a nation-wide 
"mass organization" under the umbrella of the Vietnam 
Fatherland Front), the Ministry of Labor, Invalids, and 
Social Affairs' Department of Social Evils Prevention 
(MOLISA/DSEP), and the Border Guards.  In addition, the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Consular Affairs Department 
plays a role in returning victims to Vietnam.  Local 
Peoples' Committees also have input into how local projects 
are run.  However, there appear to be no overall 
coordinating authority, formal lines of communication, or 
interagency tasking authority.  In addition, there is only 
very limited coordination and communication across either 
provincial or national borders.  Compounding the problem, 
awareness of the issue is low even among law enforcement 
agencies likely to encounter traffickers or their victims, 
such as Customs or Border Patrol.  The capacity of local 
authorities to investigate and prosecute traffickers also 
appears weak. 
 
Deputy Prime Minister's Conference 
---------------------------------- 
7. (U)  The September 9 conference in Ho Chi Minh City 
brought together officials from every relevant ministry and 
office, as well as participants from various mass 
organizations and other designated Vietnamese groups.  Its 
announced purpose was specifically to address trafficking in 
women and children.  At the end of the conference, DPM Khiem 
directed MPS and the Prime Minister's office to propose a 
long-term program of action and to recommend a lead agency 
to take responsibility at all levels of government.  The 
local press quoted a Vice Minister for Public Security 
outlining the following proposals: 
 
(A) Take measures to change the life of the people in far- 
off and border areas, especially those in the South West and 
border provinces in the North, and measures to support 
returnees (women and children); 
 
(B) Increase awareness of trafficking in order to take 
precautions against it, uncover traffickers, and coordinate 
with authorities; 
 
(C) Continue to complete and build the legal system, 
especially to overcome weaknesses in labor export and 
marriage laws; 
 
(D) Improve investigation and severely punish criminals, 
trafficking rings, and especially transnational syndicates; 
and, 
 
(E) Expand international cooperation. 
 
Action on the last item is apparently underway.  The 
Minister of Public Security is scheduled to visit Beijing 
September 16, and one of his agenda items is to sign a 
"cooperative mechanism" between the two countries' security 
ministries addressing, among other issues, trafficking in 
persons. 
 
8.  (U)  DPM Khiem also cited four main requirements to 
implement the above tasks effectively: 
 
(A) A commanding (coordinating) agency under the government; 
(B) A favorable legal "corridor"; 
(C) A program with specific road map; and, 
(D) Adequate funding and training of cadres. 
 
(NOTE: With the exception of dealing with socioeconomic 
development in areas prone to trafficking, all of the para 7 
proposals and all of the para 8 requirements are covered in 
the `expected outputs' section of UNODC's antitrafficking 
project proposal FS/VIE/03/R21, approved and funded by the 
USG in FY03 and signed by MPS in August, 2003.  END NOTE.) 
 
NGO and International Organization actors 
----------------------------------------- 
 
9. (U) International assistance against trafficking in 
persons remains modest, totaling only about USD 5 million 
annually.  According to our contacts at UNICEF and UNODC, 
the NGO and IO efforts are well coordinated to avoid 
duplication of effort and waste, but would be even more 
effective if the GVN established a clearer strategy and 
designated an agency to lead the official antitrafficking 
effort, as now appears to be in the works.  Major ongoing 
projects include the following: 
 
--  Oxfam Quebec, Save the Children UK, and Save the 
Children Sweden are carrying out a project in Vietnam's 
northeast (Bac Giang, Quang Ninh, and Lang Son provinces) 
aimed at awareness-raising through the distribution of 
leaflets and at local economic development through the 
provision of training and support for women starting their 
own businesses. 
 
--  the ILO:  The ILO's project is part of a subregional 
project including all of the Mekong subregion countries.  It 
is located in Quang Ninh and Thanh Hoa provinces and in Ho 
Chi Minh City.  ILO focuses on advocacy and awareness 
raising; capacity building in MOLISA, Border Guards, MPS, 
and the Vietnamese Women's Union; and direct assistance. 
 
-- IOM:  The IOM is focused on protection of returnees. 
Also a regional Mekong project, IOM has opened a shelter for 
returned trafficked children in Ho Chi Minh City and 
provides assistance to trafficking victims who want to 
return to Vietnam. 
 
--  UNICEF has a Vietnam component to a subregional 
antitrafficking project, which focuses on protection of 
victims and institutional capacity building, as well as 
legal reform.  UNICEF's project is unique in that it 
incorporates children themselves in project planning. 
 
--  A new UNODC project, with funding by the USG,  focuses 
on capacity building among law enforcement agencies, legal 
reform leading to accession to UN protocols on trafficking, 
and international law-enforcement cooperation. 
 
--  The Asia Foundation project, also funded by the USG, 
focuses on prevention of trafficking in Quang Ninh and An 
Giang provinces.  TAF works with Vietnamese NGOs and the 
Women's Union to improve conditions and opportunities for 
women in the provinces.  Activities include training of 
women political candidates and business managers, and 
provision of microcredit loans for women starting small 
businesses. 
 
--  the UN Interagency Project in Bangkok administers a USD 
3 million project against trafficking in women and children 
in the Mekong Sub-region, including Vietnam, and attempts to 
collect data and to improve internal coordination among GVN 
agencies.  The UNIAP is currently on hiatus in Vietnam 
pending the GVN's approval of its `second phase' projects. 
 
10. (U) Comment: The GVN is increasingly seized with the 
trafficking issue, as was evident in this unprecedented, 
recent high-profile conference.  As in dealing with other 
major social problems, the GVN is hampered by a lack of 
resources and competence, and turns to the international 
community for assistance.  The next challenge will be to 
move from the fairly modest ongoing and planned awareness- 
raising and capacity-building projects into more practical 
measures to fight against trafficking and assist victims. 
BURGHARDT 

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