US embassy cable - 02KATHMANDU537


Identifier: 02KATHMANDU537
Wikileaks: View 02KATHMANDU537 at
Origin: Embassy Kathmandu
Created: 2002-03-14 10:55:00
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.

E.O. 12598: N/A 
TAGS: ELAB, PHUM, SMIG, PREF, ASEC, KCRM, KFRD, NP, KWNM, Trafficking in Persons 
REFS: STATE 12686 
1. (U) Post's submission for the second annual Anti- 
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report follows.  The report 
addresses all of reftel's questions, but in prose form. 
Embassy point of contact for the report is 
Political/Economic Officer G.A. Donovan (telephone: 977- 
1-411-179; fax 977-1-410-723). 
2. (SBU) 
Trafficking in women and children from Nepal to other 
countries for exploitative employment is a serious 
problem.  Those trafficked are most often poor, 
uneducated young women from Nepal's remote, undeveloped 
regions.  In rare instances, trafficking of boys has 
also been reported.  Nepalese trafficking victims are 
most often taken to India for work in that country's sex 
industry and for bonded labor.  Some victims are also 
trafficked to Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, and other 
countries in the Middle East.  The Ministry of Women, 
Children and Social Welfare (MOWCSW) has identified 26 
high-priority districts for anti-trafficking 
interventions.  Most victims are transported overland to 
India.  Allegedly, women and children migrating to 
Kathmandu and other urban areas to find work have been 
subsequently trafficked overseas. 
An ongoing Maoist insurgency has used violence to wrest 
control over remote areas of Nepal from the central 
government and many trafficking victims originate in 
those areas.  The insurgents have forcefully impressed 
youngsters - including girls as young as twelve - into 
their ranks.  Post has confirmed that some of these 
forced conscripts have been raped.  The conflict has 
displaced thousands of the poorest Nepalese, and all of 
these are potential victims of traffickers. 
In general, the main contributing factors to the problem 
of trafficking in persons from Nepal are poverty, lack 
of alternative employment opportunities in the country, 
illiteracy, ignorance about the dangers of prostitution, 
family disharmony, domestic violence and gender 
The magnitude of trafficking remains difficult to 
measure.  Reliable data is not available.  NGOs have 
estimated that between 5000 and 12,000 women and 
children are trafficked from Nepal each year.  These 
numbers have not been validated and are not internally 
consistent.  NGOs are seeking better estimates. 
Government officials, police, and NGOs suspect organized 
criminal groups and "marriage brokers" are the primary 
perpetrators of trafficking in Nepal.  Most traffickers 
are from Nepal, but have links to brothels in India. 
NGOs estimate that approximately half of victims are 
lured to India with the promise of good jobs and 
marriage, many others are sold by a family member and a 
small number are kidnapped.  However, no firm numbers 
are available.  NGOs have found that once prevention 
programs are instigated in a district, the traffickers 
move on to other areas. 
While Nepal lacks both the resources and institutional 
capability to address its trafficking problem 
effectively, the government has instituted a National 
Task Force at MOWCSW with personnel assigned to 
coordinate the response.  The Ministry has also 
established district-level task forces in many high- 
priority districts.  In addition, both ILO and UNDP are 
working with the Ministry to increase its capacity to 
respond through prevention, protection, and prosecution. 
There are programs in place to train the Police, and the 
MOWCSW works closely with local NGOs to rehabilitate and 
otherwise assist victims. 
The government lacks financial and other resources to 
control trafficking.  In particular, the police lack 
both training and resources, while the courts are 
overburdened and susceptible to corruption.  Government 
welfare agencies are generally incapable of delivering 
effective public outreach programs or assistance to 
trafficking victims.  As a result, anti-trafficking 
efforts have been primarily the domain of NGOs and 
bilateral donors.  The government has promulgated a 
"National Plan of Action" to combat trafficking, but has 
not yet implemented it completely. 
MOWCSW has primary responsibility for the development 
and coordination of the Government of Nepal's anti- 
trafficking efforts.  In addition, MOWCSW has instituted 
a National Task Force Against Trafficking which includes 
personnel of the Ministry of Labour and Transportation 
Management, Ministry of Home, Ministry of Foreign 
Affairs, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary 
Affairs, Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of 
Health, National Planning Commission and Nepal Police. 
Two representative NGOs are also members. 
MOWCSW, NGOs and UNIFEM have all implemented local, 
regional and national information campaigns about 
trafficking in persons.  MOWCSW operates a program in 47 
districts to emphasize to parents the importance of 
sending their children to school.  The Ministry also 
publishes a newsletter addressing issues of concern to 
women and children.  The Ministry of Education 
administers a number of programs intended to increase 
school enrollment. 
The Government is generally receptive to private 
prevention programs and makes its personnel readily 
available to take part in anti-trafficking training 
programs.  MOWCSW has appointed a "point person" to 
foster a collaborative relationship with donors and NGOs 
as they work toward anti-trafficking goals.  For 
example, USAID developed an anti-trafficking comic book 
with the Asia Foundation; to date, the comic has been 
distributed to 130,000 women in 21 districts.  This 
program led to the creation of 120 local anti- 
trafficking campaigns.  As a result of these and other 
initiatives, attitudes towards victims have begun to 
change and parents are demanding more background 
information about potential suitors before agreeing to 
arranged marriages. 
Nepal's open land border with India does not allow for 
stringent monitoring.  One NGO has had some success 
monitoring the border independently.  UNICEF has 
provided training for police and immigration officials 
in identifying potential trafficking victims at the 
border.  Border guards commonly accept bribes to allow 
contraband and trafficked girls in or out of the 
Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers 
The Human Trafficking Control Act of 1986 is the current 
anti-trafficking legislation.  It prohibits the 
-- Selling of a human being for any purpose; 
-- Taking any person to foreign territory with an 
intention of selling that person to a third party; 
-- Involving any woman in prostitution by enticement, 
allurement, fraud, threat, coercion, or any other means; 
-- Abetting, assisting, conspiring, or attempting to 
carry out any of the above acts. 
The 1986 Act is flawed.  It does not criminalize the 
separation of a minor from his or her legal guardian 
with the intent of trafficking the minor.  Under the 
terms of the Act, no crime occurs until the victim and 
perpetrators are outside Nepalese jurisdiction. 
Receiving trafficked persons is similarly not covered. 
The Act makes no provision for compensation or 
protection of trafficking victims.  Victims are often 
reluctant to testify because trials under the Act are 
held in open court.  The 1986 Act provides for jail 
terms of up to 20 years for traffickers. 
MOWCSW has prepared legislation introduced in Parliament 
to toughen penalties against traffickers and rectify 
some of the shortcomings of the 1986 Act. 
Some prosecution has taken place.  According to the 1999- 
2000 annual report of the Attorney General's Office, 470 
anti-trafficking cases have been filed, of which 86 
resulted in convictions and 53 in acquittals, while 331 
remain undecided.  A survey conducted of three jails in 
Kathmandu by the Human Rights and Environment Forum 
(HUREF) found 180 convicted or alleged traffickers in 
jail.  Those convicted were serving sentences of up to 
20 years. 
Penalties for rape vary with the age of the victim.  If 
the victim is under 16, jail sentences of up to 10 years 
are possible.  For victims 16 or over, sentences can be 
up to five years.  In either case, the court may order a 
convicted rapist to give half his property to the 
victim.  NGOs state that victims are not detained, 
jailed or deported.  If the victim is a foreigner, she 
will be handed over to the concerned Embassy. 
Government officials, police, and NGOs suspect organized 
criminal groups and "marriage brokers" are the primary 
perpetrators of trafficking in Nepal.  They note that 
parents and other relatives of trafficking victims are 
often complicit as well.  By its own admission, the 
government lacks the "skilled manpower" necessary to 
effectively investigate cases of trafficking.  The Nepal 
Police have, since 1996, trained a limited number of 
their personnel on investigation of trafficking. 
However, the shortfall of skilled investigators remains. 
The police report no use of special investigative 
techniques in trafficking investigations. 
At a SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional 
Cooperation) summit held in January, 2002, Nepal, 
together with India and other South Asian countries, 
signed the SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating 
the Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution. 
SAARC leaders also called for the establishment of a 
voluntary fund for the rehabilitation and reintegration 
of the victims of traffickers. 
In October, 2000, the U.N. Development Fund for Women 
(UNIFEM), NGOs and Nepal's Home Ministry together hosted 
a regional workshop with senior police officers to 
enhance cross-border anti-trafficking collaboration. 
NGOs and law enforcement officials discussed ways of 
improving bilateral and regional cooperation on 
investigating and prosecuting traffickers and ensuring 
better protection of victims.  Several follow-up 
meetings involving Nepal and India have taken place. 
Nepal has not had occasion to extradite its own 
nationals charged with trafficking in other countries. 
The government is not prohibited by law from extraditing 
its own nationals.  Presumably, Nepal would extradite 
non-Nepalese persons charged with trafficking in other 
countries, though to our knowledge no government has 
ever made such a request. 
Post has no evidence that governmental authorities 
facilitate, condone, or are otherwise complicit in human 
trafficking.  However, local anti-trafficking NGOs 
report that individual local officials and border police 
sometimes accept bribes from traffickers in exchange for 
allowing the traffickers and their victims to cross the 
border.  Under Nepal's constitution, the Commission for 
Investigation of Abuse of Authority has the power to 
investigate incidences of corruption by holders of 
public office. 
On September 13, 2001, Nepal ratified ILO Convention 
182, which prohibits the worst forms of child labor. 
Nepal has not yet ratified the following international 
-- the Sale of Children Protocol, which supplements the 
Rights of the Child Convention; or 
-- the Protocol to Prevent Suppress and Punish 
Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, 
which supplements the UN Convention Against 
Transnational Organized Crime. 
Protection and Assistance to Victims 
The GON provides limited funding to local NGOs to 
provide assistance to victims of trafficking with 
rehabilitation, medical care and legal services.  The 
GON does not fund foreign NGOs.  Bilateral and 
multilateral donors, working in collaboration with the 
GON through the MOWCSW, do fund local and foreign NGOs 
to provide victim assistance. 
The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare sponsors job 
and skill training programs in several poor districts 
known for sending prostitutes to India.  In May 1999, 
MOWCSW opened the Women's Skill Development and Training 
Center, a rehabilitation and skills training center for 
women returned from being trafficked and for women and 
girls at risk of being trafficked. 
The government does protect the rights of victims. 
Trafficking victims are not detained, jailed or 
deported, nor are they prosecuted, as trafficking 
victims, for violations of other laws.  While the GON 
has not actively encouraged trafficking victims to file 
civil suits or seek legal action against the 
traffickers, once the victim does file a civil suit or 
make a criminal complaint the government will prosecute 
the case at no cost to the victim.  At the same time 
there is no provision for the government to provide 
protection to victims or witnesses.  The GON has 
initiated a "Women's Cell" of the police whose aim is to 
assist victims of trafficking and domestic violence. 
There are over 40 national-level NGOs working on the 
issues of trafficking.  With the GON's endorsement, many 
NGOs have public information and outreach campaigns in 
rural areas.  They also provide prevention education, 
micro-finance, rehabilitation, advocacy and legal 
assistance.  Two representative NGOs are members of the 
MOWCSW's National Task Force Against Trafficking.  The 
GON works closely with the NGOs to provide services to 
the victims and to assist in the implementation of the 
National Plan of Action. 

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