|Wikileaks:||View 02ABUJA496 at Wikileaks.org|
|Classification:||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY|
|Tags:||KCRM KWMN PHUM PREF NI GN|
|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 E F T O SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 000496 SIPDIS AIDAC NOFORN SENSITIVE DEPT FOR G/TIP, INL/AAE, INR/TNC, AF/RA AND DRL PASS AID FOR G/WID-LYDAY DOL FOR ILAB-ZOLLNER E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: KCRM, KWMN, PHUM, PREF, NI, GN SUBJECT: PROFILE OF A NIGERIAN SEX TRAFFICKING RING 1.(SBU/NF) A key prosecution witness in the case of 33 trafficked Nigerian girls and women rescued in Conakry, Guinea in July 2001 approached the Embassy for assistance and was debriefed by the RSO and RNLEO. The witness, a resident of Benin City, Edo State, is married to a German woman and until August 2001 was living and working as a taxi driver in Conakry. 2.(SBU/NF) The witness explained that his cousin from Benin City, who had always represented himself as a shoe salesman, had invited the witness to visit Conakry, where the cousin often traveled. Upon arrival in Conakry in early 2001, the witness did not find his cousin but decided to make ends meet by working as a taxi driver while waiting for his cousin to arrive. He never met his cousin in Conakry but he stumbled upon the cousin's true profession. 3.(SBU/NF) While working in Conakry, the witness met a number of Nigerian women who had been trafficked previously but were now on their own in Guinea. Some identified his cousin as a major trafficker of girls and women from Edo State, Nigeria to Spain and Italy. From talking to Nigerian women in Conakry, the witness learned of a large group of Nigerian girls and women who were being detained in a Conakry house by a ring of Nigerian traffickers. Some of the girls were as young as 13. After notifying the Nigerian Embassy in Conakry, he and the Nigerian Embassy were able to orchestrate a Guinean police raid of the house, and 33 girls and women were found. They had been detained there for several weeks. 15 Nigerian traffickers, including a former Police Commissioner of Edo State, were arrested and later extradited to Nigeria, where they now face trial (in which the witness will play a key role). 4.(SBU/NF) The witness was flown out of Conakry with the rescued trafficking victims aboard a Nigerian Air Force plane on August 17. The witness helped Guinean police interview the trafficked victims immediately after their rescue and he also helped with interrogations of the traffickers arrested and later (November 2001) extradited to Nigeria. The witness has now become an essential part of the Federal Government's prosecution of the 15 traffickers; he has been declared a "protected witness" by the Special Assistant to the President for Human Trafficking and Child Labor, Mike Mku, though that protection has been weak at best. 5.(SBU/NF) Unfortunately, though this case received President Obasanjo's personal attention, a lack of federal resources for the protection of trafficking victims resulted in the release of the 33 rescued victims to their homes in Edo State after 60 unhappy days of confinement in a Lagos police facility, while the Federal government attempted unsuccessfully to find long-term care and vocational training for the girls and women. According to the witness, who later saw and talked with some of the victims back in Benin City, about half of the 33 have already been re-trafficked to Europe. The Conakry Connection ---------------------- 6.(SBU/NF) According to the witness, the Nigerian sex trafficking trade is heavily entrenched in Conakry, where genuine Guinean passports are easy to obtain through fraudulent means and the Guinean police seem to tolerate the lucrative human trade provided it not become a security problem. After airlines and European immigration began targeting the movement of trafficked girls and women via air flights directly from Nigeria to Europe, traffickers began using land routes through West Africa and the Sahara to get their human cargoes to the brothels of Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. 7.(SBU/NF) Women the witness interviewed in Conakry and the victims themselves describe the prevailing trafficking route: form Edo State through Lagos, Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire and finally, to Conakry. Stops in Cotonou, Lome, Accra and Abidjan are short and the traffickers have accomplices with safe houses in these West African capitals. Once in Conakry, the girls wait as long as a month while fraudulently-obtained passports and other Guinean documents are prepared for their onward journey. Sometimes they are pressed into servicing the local sex trade during this wait. According to the witness, a great benefit of the Guinean passport is that its holders do not need a visa for Morocco. 8.(SBU/NF) Once a group of about 20-30 girls is ready for onward movement, they are led by traffickers to Bamako, and across the Sahara to Algiers, and from Algiers to Casablanca. From interviews of women who had made the journey and been caught in Spain -- and expelled back to Guinea -- the journey through the desert takes two-three weeks and several girls out of each group die along the way from heat exhaustion. The traffickers reportedly own property in Bamako, Algiers and Casablanca, which they use to house trafficked girls and women in transit. Trade Union for Traffickers? ---------------------------- 9.(SBU/NF) The witness claims that 200-300 girls and women had moved through Conakry along this route in the two to three months preceding the July 2001 rescue of the 33. At least 1,000 sex trafficking victims pass through Conakry a year, he estimates. So deeply entrenched is the Nigerian trafficking network in Conakry that the organization has a "trade union" to protect them from government anti-trafficking efforts and provide them with top-quality legal services if they get in trouble. Even before the traffickers were extradited from Guinea, a lawyer was enlisted to defend them in Nigeria. 10.(SBU/NF) Once in Casablanca, the traffickers arrange for small boats to carry the Nigerian girls and women from the Moroccan coast to "Suta Island," purportedly a Spanish possession near Gibraltar. This boat trip is dangerous, as it is usually made at night to avoid Spanish and Moroccan naval patrols, and trafficking victims sometimes fall overboard and drown. Those who make it successfully to Spain without being detected by Spanish security personnel are either put to work in Spanish brothels or moved overland to Italy for work there. According to the witness, these brothels are operated by Nigerian traffickers or former trafficked girls and women who have survived, paid off their debts of over $50,000 and managed to graduate to brothel-operator status. 11.(SBU/NF) The witness claims his life is in danger as the group of traffickers awaiting trial is extremely powerful and has sent him a number of death threats. The witness claims that the traffickers' lawyer visited him in his Benin City home and warned him against being a witness for the federal government in this case. Shortly thereafter, his uncle was beaten up and a relative's house was burned to the ground; following these developments, he and his immediate family boarded up their house and fled Benin City. Confirming the common impression of Benin City, the witness claimed it is a hub or organized crime, particularly human traffickers. 12.(SBU/NF) The witness claimed his is now living on the streets of Abuja, surviving on the little assistance the federal government can give him and any other sources of charity he can find. He asked the Embassy for assistance and for asylum in the U.S. RSO and RNLEO explained that this trafficking case does not involve the United States, and therefore the USG cannot play a role in the prosecution or his protection. RNLEO acceded to the witness' request, however, that an Embassy representative attend the March 23 opening of the criminal trial in the federal High Court (Lagos) to show that the international community has an interest in seeing justice served in this landmark case. RNLEO also agreed to raise the witness' plight with Mike Mku. (Note: Mku Later told RNLEO that he greatly values the witness' cooperation and crucial role in the prosecution of the 15 traffickers but cannot obtain sufficient funds to protect the witness in a hotel or other safe location. End note.) Jeter
Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04