US embassy cable - 06HONGKONG818

2006 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT: MACAU

Identifier: 06HONGKONG818
Wikileaks: View 06HONGKONG818 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Hong Kong
Created: 2006-02-28 06:53:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PHUM PINR PGOV HK CH KCRM KWMN SMIG KFRD
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO1006
PP RUEHCN
DE RUEHHK #0818/01 0590653
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280653Z FEB 06
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5166
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 9079
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA PRIORITY 2738
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0371
RUEHUM/AMEMBASSY ULAANBAATAR PRIORITY 0961
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK PRIORITY 0012
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 HONG KONG 000818 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
NSC FOR DENNIS WILDER 
DEPT FOR EAP/CM G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, IWI, EAP/RSP 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM, PINR, PGOV, HK, CH, KCRM, KWMN, SMIG, KFRD, 
ASEC, PREF, ELAB 
SUBJECT: 2006 TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT: MACAU 
 
REF: A. SECSTATE 003836 
 
     B. HONG KONG 0217 
 
HONG KONG 00000818  001.2 OF 005 
 
 
Overview of Trafficking Problem 
------------------------------- 
 
1. (SBU) Macau, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the 
People's Republic of China (PRC), is not a source of 
trafficked persons, but it is a destination and transit point 
for illegal immigration and prostitution.  There are no good 
estimates of how many of these illegal migrants and 
prostitutes may fit the broad definition of "trafficked 
persons" used for this report, but anecdotal evidence 
suggests the number is probably rather small.  The Government 
investigated 42 cases of "procurement" (i.e., the 
exploitation of prostitution) during 2005, all of which were 
either under investigation or being prosecuted as of this 
writing.  Ten of the women involved in these cases claimed to 
have been brought to Macau under false pretenses and three 
complained of abuse.  In none of the cases did the Government 
suspect trafficking in persons.  None of the cases involved 
child exploitation. 
 
2. (SBU) The leading Hong Kong English-language daily "South 
China Morning Post" (Circ. 100,000) reported in July 2005 
that women were being brought to Macau under false pretenses 
and forced or coerced into prostitution.  The report alleged 
the women had their passports taken away, were kept under 
surveillance, were subject to debt bondage, and were 
threatened with physical violence to themselves or their 
families.  A local NGO that has helped trafficking victims in 
the past told us they had not encountered any cases of 
trafficking during the past year, though they admitted they 
did not proactively seek out trafficking victims.  There were 
no reports of child trafficking, or of victims being forced 
or coerced to work in sweatshops or other jobs. 
 
3. (SBU) According to reliable contacts in the Macau 
Government, most trafficking victims come from Mongolia or 
interior regions of China, and are typically told they are 
coming to Macau to work as dancers.  Criminal organizations 
reportedly provide assistance to some of them to travel from 
their home countries, enter Macau, and/or settle in the city. 
 The Government told us that Chinese, Russian, and Thai 
criminal syndicates are involved, and usually pass the women 
to local triad groups once they enter Macau.  The terms of 
repayment for such "employment assistance" reportedly can be 
onerous, often more onerous than the women had been led to 
believe.  Living and working conditions also can be 
problematic, according to NGO and press reports, involving 
close monitoring )- even imprisonment -- during off hours, 
crowded boarding arrangements, confiscated identity 
documents, long working hours, and threats of violence.  The 
authorities investigate reports of such activities promptly. 
Organizers of prostitution rings, whether or not involving 
trafficked persons, are prosecuted under laws that 
criminalize profiting from the proceeds of another person's 
prostitution. 
 
4. (SBU) There is no integrated government effort in Macau to 
control or combat trafficking in persons.  While Government 
officials generally acknowledge that trafficking exists in 
Macau, they do not consider the problem serious and believe 
current policies and efforts are sufficient.  Macau has 
several laws related to trafficking, and the Immigration 
Department and local police aggressively enforce the law. 
Macau actively participates in international meetings on 
trafficking and adheres to all international treaties 
governing trafficking in persons to which the PRC is a 
signatory. 
 
5. (SBU) There are no government assistance programs for 
victims of trafficking and no local NGOs specifically dealing 
with trafficking issues.  The Government argues that the 
problem is too small to warrant special programs.  There are, 
however, Government programs and charitable organizations 
 
HONG KONG 00000818  002.2 OF 005 
 
 
that provide assistance and shelter to women and children who 
have been the victims of abuse, including trafficking victims. 
 
Prostitution in Macau 
--------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Prostitution is legal in Macau, though a number of 
activities associated with prostitution, including "pimping," 
are illegal.  Advertisements for sexual services can be found 
in regional newspapers and magazines, and  posted on ferry 
terminal walls.  There are no reliable data on the number of 
prostitutes working in Macau, but most come from mainland 
China, Russia, Eastern Europe, Thailand, and Vietnam.  Most 
prostitutes are from rural areas and are typically seventeen 
to thirty years of age.  They are usually poorly educated, 
though not illiterate.  They tend to be very mobile, usually 
coming for a month at a time and then moving to other 
countries, usually at the expiration of their tourist visas. 
Most work in hotels and casinos, though our contacts in the 
Thai Consulate in Hong Kong told us prostitution in the 
casinos is normally limited to PRC nationals, because Chinese 
organized crime rings allegedly control most Macau casinos. 
 
7. (SBU) Macau law enforcement officials told us the 
overwhelming majority of foreign prostitutes come to Macau as 
willing participants in the commercial sex trade, and 
typically know in advance specifically what they will be 
doing and how much they can expect to earn.  Prior to the 
introduction of the Individual Visitor Scheme (IVS) in 2003, 
which allowed tourists from certain mainland cities and 
provinces to enter Macau on an individual basis, most 
prostitutes came to Macau with the help of a "pimp" or a 
criminal syndicate.  The introduction of the IVS made it 
possible for most prostitutes to enter Macau on their own, 
though some still seek the help of pimps, either because they 
are unaware that they can obtain visas on their own or 
because they need logistical and financial help with travel 
and housing.  While the IVS has weakened the role of pimps in 
Macau's sex industry, law enforcement officials believe that 
Chinese, Russian and Thai criminal syndicates are still 
involved in bringing prostitutes into Macau.  These officials 
claim, however, that women are rarely coerced into coming, or 
forced into prostitution once they arrive. 
 
8. (SBU) Macau allows visa-free access for nationals of many 
countries to facilitate tourism.  For citizens of 
non-visa-free countries, including Russia, visas can be 
obtained on arrival.  The Russian Consulate in Hong Kong 
estimates that at any given time there are more than 100 
Russian prostitutes with work visas in Macau, and another 100 
with tourist visas.  Immigration officers do not admit people 
they believe are entering for illegal employment, but they do 
not routinely refuse entry by targeting certain groups of 
travelers from specific countries.  Macau officials have made 
effors to work with other governments, particularly the RC, 
to develop a list of those known to be practicing 
prostitution, making it more difficult for those persons to 
get passports and exit permits from their home governments 
and visas for Macau. 
 
Macau's Efforts in Preventing and Combating Trafficking 
--------------------------------------------- ---------- 
 
9. (SBU) There is no integrated government effort in Macau to 
control or combat trafficking in persons.  While Government 
officials generally acknowledge that some trafficking exists 
in Macau, they do not consider the problem serious or 
widespread enough to warrant separate programs.  They claim 
that current policies and efforts are sufficient to address 
the issue.  According to these officials, the overwhelming 
majority of prostitutes know why they are coming to Macau and 
continue to work of their own free will.  Many immigrants to 
Macau sign contracts outlining the terms of their work before 
arrival, and the Macau police rarely receive complaints that 
the terms of such contracts have been violated, according to 
our contacts at the Russian, Thai, and Philippine consulates. 
 
HONG KONG 00000818  003.2 OF 005 
 
 
 Both the Macau government and the various consulates 
representing those working in Macau note that they receive 
very few complaints or allegations of mistreatment of 
prostitutes or other foreign migrants.  The NGO Catholic 
Social Services (CSS) told us that, in those cases where 
trafficking victims sought help from the police, the police 
did "a fairly good job" of dealing with the problem. 
However, the government acknowledges that most victims are 
unable or unwilling to contact the police.  Some fear 
reprisals from their handlers, who are often associated with 
organized crime, and others fear that their families will 
find out they are working in prostitution. 
 
10. (SBU) Macau has effective immigration controls, but its 
long border with Mainland China makes illegal immigration a 
continuing problem.  Macau has land border control points 
with the PRC and an international airport with regional 
flights to China, Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Taipei and 
Moscow.  Ferries land regularly from Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and 
Shenzhen.  Macau received 18.7 million visitors in 2005, up 
from 16.7 million in 2004.  It is a common practice for 
prostitutes to go back and forth across the Chinese border 
when their visas expire in order to get new visas and 
continue to work.  Macau immigration tries to control such 
activity, and often refuses to issue a new visa if it 
suspects abuse.  However, the increasing volume of visitors 
attracted by Macau's booming casino industry makes it easier 
for people to enter illegally. 
 
Investigation and Prosecution of Traffickers 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
11. (SBU) Macau does not have a separate law on trafficking 
in persons, but has the ability to prosecute such offenses 
under a variety of other laws.  Article 7 of the Law on 
Organized Crime covers the rare occasion when a person is 
trafficked out of Macau, but does not apply to victims 
exploited in Macau.  The penalty for trafficking in persons 
under this law is two to eight years imprisonment.  This 
increases by one-third, within minimum and maximum limits, if 
the victim is less than 18 years of age.  If the victim is 
under 14 years of age, the penalty is five to fifteen years 
imprisonment.  Crimes against personal freedom, most notably 
slavery, are prosecuted under Article 153 of the Criminal 
Code of Macau.  This law makes illegal the sale, transfer or 
purchase of a person made with the intention to reduce that 
person to the status or condition of slave.  Notably, this 
law has also been interpreted to include economic and sexual 
exploitation, which is punishable by 10 to 20 years 
imprisonment.  Prosecutions under this law are also rare. 
 
12. (SBU) Some trafficking cases also can be prosecuted under 
Macau's kidnapping and rape laws.  Kidnapping with the intent 
to commit a crime against sexual liberty or 
self-determination is punishable by three to ten years 
imprisonment under Article 154(1)(b) of the Criminal Code of 
Macau.  In cases where the kidnapper rapes a victim, they are 
treated as two different crimes, though the sentences can in 
some cases be served concurrently.  The penalty for rape is 
three to twelve years imprisonment.  The Criminal Code 
forbids the death penalty and life imprisonment.  The maximum 
term of imprisonment is thirty years in total. 
 
13. (SBU) Since most trafficking cases involve prostitution, 
by far the most common, and easiest, method of prosecuting 
such cases is under Macau's "procurement" laws.  Although 
prostitution is legal, the exploitation of prostitution is 
illegal and is punishable under various autonomous statutes. 
For example, "procurement" *- defined as instigating, 
favoring or facilitating the practice of prostitution by 
another person or exploiting their state of abandonment or 
necessity for the purposes of profit or as a way of life *- 
is punishable by one to five years imprisonment under Article 
163 of the Criminal Code of Macau.  Additionally, "aggravated 
procurement" *- defined as the use of violence, serious 
threats, or deception, or exploiting the mental incapacity of 
 
HONG KONG 00000818  004.2 OF 005 
 
 
a victim *- is a separate crime punishable by two to eight 
years imprisonment under Article 164 of the Criminal Code of 
Macau. 
 
14. (SBU) According to Macau's International Law Office, the 
Government's typical response to a trafficking complaint is: 
1) police investigate and the woman is sent to a shelter; 2) 
a Government prosecutor investigates and, depending on what 
is found, a court case may be filed; 3) the victim is offered 
assistance to return to her home country at the expense of 
the Macau government.  Officials noted that this last step 
often makes the case more difficult to prosecute if the 
victim does not return for the trial, but the Macau 
government provides this assistance for the physical and 
emotional protection of the victim.  Officials also noted 
that, after repatriation, some prostitutes returned to Macau 
and engaged in prostitution again.  Most prostitutes were 
"professionals" who knew the laws on trafficking and that the 
Government would buy them a ticket home if they claimed they 
were forced into prostitution, this official said.  Many such 
"victims" would return to Macau a few months later.  All 
trials are public, except when the victim is a minor or when 
the victim's life (or that of someone else involved) is in 
danger. 
 
15. (SBU) The number of procurement crimes has remained 
relatively unchanged in recent years.  From 1999-2003, there 
was an annual average of 18 procurement cases and one case of 
sexual coercion.  In 2004, there were 17 complaints from 
women who claimed they were brought to the SAR under false 
pretenses, and 5 complaints of abuse.  In 2005, 10 women 
complained of being brought to the SAR under false pretenses, 
and 3 complained of abuse. 
 
16. (SBU) Several international treaties designed to combat 
slavery and similar practices, as well as trafficking in 
persons, are applicable to Macau, including: 
 
--The International Convention for the Suppression of the 
Traffic in Women and Children; 
--The International Convention for the Suppression of the 
Traffic in Women of Full Age; 
--The Slavery Convention; 
--Convention No. 29 of the International Labour Organization 
(ILO) concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour; --The 
Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the 
Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to 
Slavery; 
--The Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in 
Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of 
Others; 
--Convention No. 105 of the ILO concerning the Abolition of 
Forced Labour; 
--The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; 
--The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural 
Rights; 
--The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of 
Discrimination Against Women; 
--The Convention on the Rights of the Child; 
--ILO Convention 182; 
--The Sale of Children Protocol. 
 
Protection and Assistance to Victims 
------------------------------------ 
 
17. (SBU) There are no official government assistance 
programs in place for victims of trafficking, and no NGOs 
focused specifically on trafficking issues.  Officials claim 
the problem is too small to warrant separate Government 
programs.  However, several NGOs and charitable 
organizations, including CSS and the Association of Women of 
Macau, provide assistance to abused women, including 
trafficking victims, without regard to nationality or social 
status.  These organizations told us they had not received 
any requests for assistance from trafficking victims during 
the year, thought they admitted that they do not actively 
 
HONG KONG 00000818  005.2 OF 005 
 
 
seek out victims.  The government also provides assistance to 
abused women, including trafficking victims.  The Macau 
government provides repatriation funds to those who wish to 
return to their home countries but cannot afford tickets, 
including those who claim to be victims of abuse or 
trafficking.  Government officials have received 
anti-trafficking training that included segments on 
protection of victims at the U.S.-sponsored International Law 
Enforcement Academy in Bangkok. 
 
18. (U) Post point of contact is poloff Donald Conner, Tel. 
(852)2841-2139, Fax (852)2526-7382; unclass email: 
connerdl@state.gov. 
 
Hours required to do the report: 
FS4 - 26 
FS2 ) 2 
FS1 - 2 
OC  - 1 
Cunningham 

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