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06BANGKOK3955 VITAL VOICES CONFERENCE ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

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“70254”,”7/5/2006 10:07″,”06BANGKOK3955″,

“Embassy Bangkok”,”UNCLASSIFIED”,””,

“This record is a partial extract of the original cable.

The full text of the original cable is not available.

 

051007Z Jul 06

“,”UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 BANGKOK 003955

 

SIPDIS

 

STATE FOR G/TIP, EAP/MLS, DRL/IL, PRM/PRP

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

TAGS: KWMN, KCRM, ELAB, PREL, SMIG, PHUM, KJUS, EAID, TH

SUBJECT: VITAL VOICES CONFERENCE ON TRAFFICKING IN

PERSONS

 

1. Summary. The Vital Voices Conference, entitled

Civil Society and Government Collaboration to Combat

Trafficking in Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-

Region, was held in Bangkok from May 22-24. The

conference promoted greater collaboration among NGOs

and government agencies on anti-trafficking activities

in the region, but also highlighted the need to

coordinate funding and strategic planning with other

actors – such as corporations and labor unions – that

were making important strides against TIP

independently. Representatives from the government

and NGO sectors of each Mekong Basin country

(excluding the Burmese government), as well as U.N.

and Thai government co-hosts of the conference,

praised the USG for providing a regional forum for

NGOs to express their view directly with

representatives of their own governments. In some

cases, members of the two sectors were meeting in this

capacity for the very first time. Following the

conference, PAS Bangkok organized a speaking tour in

northern Thailand for Melanne Verveer, Chair of Vital

Voices, and her staff. Recently-named UNODC Goodwill

Ambassador Julia Ormond also praised the conference\’s

unique format for encouraging countries to share best

practices on a problem that by nature transcends

borders in a region subject to huge migrant flows.

End Summary.

 

2. The Vital Voices anti-trafficking conference, held

in Bangkok from May 22-24, brought together NGO and

government leaders from around the world to focus on

improving collaboration in the fight against

trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion.

Participants agreed that the conference succeeded in

fostering dialogue between NGO and government

representatives that has often been missing in

international fora on trafficking-in-persons. Chinese

and Vietnamese NGO delegates in particular praised the

USG for proving a forum for NGO-government dialogue

that was not often available in their own countries.

The discussions generated by other conference

invitees, however, also made clear that other players

in the fight against TIP – such as the business

community and labor unions – were playing important

roles that needed encouragement through linkages with

NGO and government efforts.

 

3. Among the important informal recommendations

generated by the conference discussions:

 

— Reduce \”capital city policymaking\” that ignored

realities on the ground in poorer, outlying provinces

that supplied most TIP victims.

 

— Ensure that training initiatives assisting police

and government officials at capital headquarters get

extended to provincial officials who deal directly

with TIP.

 

— Improve dialogue with labor unions, which can play

an important role in organizing workers (especially in

tourism, hotels) vulnerable to TIP. (Cambodian hotel

unions were cited as a positive example.)

 

— Support G/TIP\’s enhanced focus on labor trafficking

and debt bondage.

 

— Increase the role of the business community,

following the lead of Microsoft and the Gates

Foundation in addressing TIP and providing vocational

training for alternative sources of income.

 

— Get law enforcement agencies and NGOs to \”speak the

same language\” when addressing TIP; law enforcement

needs to better respect victim privacy and security,

while NGOs need to understand the need to secure

testimony for successful prosecutions.

 

— Improve the \”quality\” of TIP prosecutions as well

as the \”quantity\”; emphasize to governments that

exorbitant sentences for \”small fry\” traffickers does

not excuse lack of prosecution of corrupt officials or

trafficking \”kingpins\”.

 

— Ensure that competition for funds does not inhibit

donor coordination; NGOs seeking funds from same

sources tend to withhold information and keep projects

\”proprietary\”.

 

4. Co-sponsors were the RTG\’s Ministry of Social

Development and Human Security, UNODC, USAID, and

Embassy Bangkok. Ambassador Boyce delivered opening

remarks, as did the RTG\’s Minister for Social

Development and Human Security (SDHS), actress and UN

Goodwill Ambassador Julia Ormond, UN Resident Country

Coordinator Joana Merlin-Scholtes, and Vital Voices

Chair Melanne Verveer.

 

5. RTG Minister Watana Muangsook opened the conference

by identifying poverty alleviation as a means to

combat trafficking. He described the RTG\’s dual track

economic development scheme, which focuses on both

domestic projects (e.g. the 30 baht health care

program and village funds) and regional cooperation

(e.g. Economic Cooperation Strategy.) Ambassador

Boyce encouraged greater government and NGO

cooperation, and called for the Thai Parliament to

pass a comprehensive anti-trafficking law this year.

Julia Ormond relayed stories gathered from her

meetings with trafficking victims around the world.

 

6. USAID\’s Regional Mission in Thailand designed

break-out sessions throughout the conference to

encourage government and NGO sectors to jointly

identify priorities and implement activities. The

Ministry of SDHS hosted a reception the first evening,

followed the second evening by a reception at

Ambassador\’s residence. Various delegates

participated as panel speakers throughout the

conference, and paragraph 6 summarizes these

presentations. The powerpoint slides can be accessed

at

 

http://www.vitalvoices.org/desktopdefault.asp x?page_id=346.

 

7. As a follow-on to the conference, PAS Bangkok

programmed Verveer and Wenchi Yu Perkins, also of

Vital Voices, on a three-day target-of-opportunity

speaking tour in northern Thailand. They met with

provincial anti-trafficking teams, consisting of local

government officials, police officers, public

prosecutors, psychologists, NGO representatives,

attorneys, and journalists in the provinces of Chiang

Mai, Chiang Rai and Phayao. The program ended with a

visit to the Development and Education Program for

Daughters and Community (DEPDC) in Mae Sai, located on

the border with Burma. DEPDC, a community-based

organization, is recognized internationally for its

success in educating rural, impoverished children and

adults, many of whom are from local hill tribes

without Thai citizenship, who are particularly

vulnerable to trafficking. Ms. Verveer and Ms.

Perkins used the opportunity to take lessons learned

from regional partners working to combat trafficking

and shared the knowledge and ext steps ith

numerous Thai officials working in some of Thailand

most notorious areas

for trafficking activities.

 

——————————————— ———

CROSS-BORDER COLLABORATION; CROSS-CULTURE LESSONS

LEARNED

——————————————— ———

 

8. A member of the Royal Thai Police and a

representative of the UN Inter-agency Project on

Trafficking (UNIAP) described a trafficking case that

successfully prosecuted the trafficker through

effective international collaboration. In 2003, a

trafficker known as Khun Thea smuggled 11 Cambodian

women and girls through Thailand into Malaysia. The

subsequent investigation by the Thai and Cambodian

governments was aided by a Thai-Cambodian MOU against

trafficking, as well as the efforts of a host of

government offices, NGOs, and organizations from

Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia. In March 2005, the

trafficker was sentenced to 50 years in a Thai prison.

 

9. Thai-Burmese cooperation was illustrated by Save

the Children representatives, who discussed their work

in repatriating Burmese victims who were trafficked to

Thailand. They raised the possibility of a Thai-Burma

MOU to facilitate repatriation, and lauded the Thai

government\’s commitment to protect all children within

its territory, including trafficked Burmese. Save the

Children has repatriated 158 victims; of those, 12 are

male, and 44 have re-migrated to Thailand. Many who

reintegrated into their communities have become anti-

trafficking educators at home.

 

10. The director of the Nexus Institute presented

cases from Eastern Europe\’s experience in combating

trafficking, including multi-disciplinary national

working groups, some including NGO representatives,

and a regional multi-year anti-trafficking action

plan. The need for effective training for police,

investigators, and prosecutors was emphasized, as were

the responsibilities of law enforcement, such as

immediately providing victims with social services and

protection, ensuring confidentiality, and conducting

risk assessments.

 

———————————

OBSTACLES AND PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS

———————————

 

11. The Southeast Asia Regional Cooperation in Human

Development (SEARCH) presented its plan for an

upcoming 5-year project, which will promote mechanisms

to uphold human rights. Three regional partners —

COMMIT, Asean Working Group, and Forum Asia — will be

involved, and SEARCH shared its plans for avoiding

duplication and leveraging investments. In the same

panel, USAID described its review of a program in

seven countries, which allowed them to map their areas

of vulnerability, identify needs and gaps, and provide

recommendations. They stressed the need to

standardize field work such as data collection,

research techniques, and monitoring and evaluation,

and for increasing the use of mapping to prevent

redundancies. Finally, the Australian Agency for

International Development (AUSAID) shared what it has

identified as the four main challenges to anti-

trafficking efforts. They are:

 

— Widespread refusal to accept that victim protection

and aggressive prosecution can be compatible

strategies.

 

— Failure to treat trafficking and related

exploitation as criminal offenses.

 

— Unrealistic expectations on underdeveloped systems

to deliver justice.

 

As indicators of progress, AUSAID is looking for

trafficking to be treated as a criminal offense, not

just a social problem; for destination countries to

take a greater role in prosecution; and for

prosecutions to be measured as \”better,\” not just

\”more.\”

 

——————

EMPOWERING VICTIMS

——————

 

12. The International Labor Organization\’s (ILO\’s)

presentation focused on the need for civil society to

empower the marginalized to take action, as opposed to

simply protecting their welfare and speaking on their

behalf. They also shared the example of Laos PDR\’s

successful use of steering committees from local to

national levels, which meet regularly and share

information effectively.

 

——————————-

FINAL DOCUMENT: RECOMMENDATIONS

——————————-

 

13. Delegates concluded the conference by creating a

document of recommendations, intended as a guideline

for increased cooperation among a variety of sectors

and organizations. Below is a slightly abridged

version of the document.

 

Final Statement – Conference on ivil Society and

Government Collaboration to Combat Trafficking in

Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-region May 22-24,

2006 Bangkok, Thailand

 

We, the participants of the conference on ivil

Society and Government Collaboration to Combat

Trafficking in Persons in the Greater Mekong Sub-

region (GMS) athered in Bangkok, Thailand from May

22-24, 2006, reaffirmed the critical importance of

systematic collaboration between NGOs, civil society,

and Governments in developing and implementing

successful anti-trafficking strategies and programs.

This collaboration must cover all aspects of anti-

trafficking response overing prosecution,

protection, and prevention of human trafficking.

 

Specifically, the conference:

 

Recognizes that civil society encompasses NGOs and

many other actors;

 

Recognizes the critical importance of a comprehensive

approach to combat human trafficking, focusing on

protection, prevention and prosecution, and

importantly complemented by coordination of both

policies and programs;

 

Takes note of the commitments for close collaboration

between Governments and NGOs made by the GMS

Governments through the Coordinated Mekong Ministerial

Initiative against Trafficking (COMMIT) process, such

as the provision in the COMMIT Memorandum of

Understanding (MOU) which explicitly acknowledges he

important role played by victim support agencies in

the areas of prevention, protection, rescue,

repatriation, recovery and reintegration, as well as

in supporting a strengthened criminal justice

response;

 

Takes note of the important efforts by the Governments

to conclude and implement a broad range of bilateral

MOUs to increase and formalize cooperation between

States in their efforts against human trafficking;

 

Recognizing the relevant UN conventions and

international legal instruments related to human

trafficking which also provide for the involvement of

NGOs in implementation and monitoring processes;

 

Acknowledges the key roles that NGOs and civil society

organizations are already playing in all aspects of

work to eradicate human trafficking in the GMS, and

commend the cases of close cooperation between

Governments and NGOs which are taking place;

 

In light of the above-mentioned findings, the

participants of the conference make the following

recommendations, which recognize the critical

importance of continuous and intensive collaboration

between NGOs and other representative organizations of

civil society and Governments. These recommendations

shall be communicated to the Governments of the

Greater Mekong Sub-region, NGO networks engaged in

anti-trafficking working in the sub-region,

international NGOs, UN agencies, other inter-

governmental organizations, and bilateral and

multilateral donor organizations:

 

(1) Governments and NGOs should more systematically

partner with each other in order to ensure that civil

society is actively involved in all aspects of the

determination and implementation of anti-trafficking

policies, including national action plans,

regulations, and laws. As part of this partnership,

the volume and quality of information shared between

the Government agencies, ranging from central to

grass-roots/local levels, international organizations

and NGOs should increase.

 

(2) Governments and NGOs recognize that consistent,

high-quality data collection, mapping of gap areas,

and quality research are the essential basis for

effective policies and responsive programs. Donors,

international organizations, research organizations,

governments, and NGOs should undertake and support on-

going research activities oth quantitative and

qualitative.

 

(3) Both the Governments and NGOs should broaden their

anti-trafficking partnership to include other civil

society organizations, such as those from organized

labor, faith-based organizations, migrant communities,

and the international and national business community.

Work on anti-trafficking initiatives with these new

allies should occur in a systematic manner to bring

forward new knowledge and resources from these

partners, and seek support from them for policies and

programs to combat human trafficking.

 

(4) Governments and NGOs recognize that significant

gaps in anti-trafficking response still exist in the

sub-region, both in terms of geographical coverage and

sectors of anti-human trafficking response. It is

recommended that these gaps be systematically

addressed by joint initiatives of Government and NGOs.

 

(5) Information on the positive role of NGOs in

cooperating with Governments on anti-trafficking

efforts, and the need to have NGOs involved in order

to ensure comprehensive anti-trafficking response,

should be reflected in all training curriculums at all

levels.

 

(6) Both bilateral and multilateral donor agencies

should take decisions on funding of technical

assistance and capacity building with particular

attention to the need to further strengthen government

and civil society cooperation, and to do so in a more

coordinated manner.

 

(7) Greater donor coordination, including prioritizing

both at the national and regional levels, would

enhance and facilitate the process of preventing and

combating human trafficking.

 

(8) Government and NGOs recognize the importance of

monitoring anti-trafficking projects to ensure

accountability, and continuously evaluating impact of

those activities, but also recognize that donor

agencies should provide longer term commitments to

anti-trafficking work being done. Possible approaches

could include the development of innovative monitoring

modalities, such as regional peer review mechanisms,

between and among Governments, NGOs, civil society,

international NGOs, and inter-governmental

organizations with an emphasis on long-term

commitment, and should stress the positive role that

NGOs can play in monitoring process and progress.

 

(9) Governments and NGOs recommend that the success of

criminal justice actions against human trafficking

offenders should be measured according to both the

quality of investigations and prosecutions and their

quantity.

 

(10) Donors should encourage and support public-

private partnerships as a new approach to generate new

ideas and additional resources for anti-human

trafficking work.

 

(11) Civil society organizations, including NGOs, and

law enforcement authorities should exchange experience

and information, as appropriate, build deeper mutual

understanding, and reach shared objectives to

prosecute traffickers and support the recovery of

victims of trafficking; and bilateral and multilateral

donors should support such opportunities.

 

(12) Stronger cross-border collaboration in all

aspects of anti-trafficking response, and technical,

financial and personnel support for those initiatives,

should be built among governments and NGOs.

 

(13) Where cross-border collaboration and coordination

does occur, it is critical that this be broadened to

embrace the concept of multi-disciplinary teams that

include NGOs, and encourage governments to initiate

pilot projects in identified trafficking hot spots on

borders.

 

(14) Governments and civil society actors should

consider to either extend existing cross-border

mechanisms, or to create similar mechanisms, to

address human trafficking.

 

(15) Regional agreements on procedures for cooperation

in human trafficking should be developed, taking into

account agreements already available at the bilateral

level.

 

(16) Governments and NGOs understand the urgent need

to deepen anti-trafficking response, and ensure that

policies and implementation reach to the provincial

and local level.

 

(17) Governments and NGOs should collaborate to build

capacity of concerned governments officials and NGO

staff working to provide protection and recovery

services to victims, and improve the standards of the

shelters and the services they provide.

 

(18) Workshops should be convened to clarify the roles

and responsibilities of the different stakeholders in

anti-trafficking actions. Possible results could

include the establishment of a multi-disciplinary

operations team at the national level to oversee

actions on cases of trafficked persons. This team can

direct the process of assistance and protection to the

victim, and the victim participation in the criminal

justice investigation and prosecution process. As part

of this process, the roles and scope of NGOs could be

more clearly defined, which would in turn help

facilitate their operations, and monitoring and

evaluation systems be established.

 

(19) Governments and NGOs in places of migrant

origin, transit and

destination should promote safe

migration as a strategy to reduce vulnerability to

human trafficking.

 

The participants will seek opportunities to

incorporate these recommendations into the anti-human

trafficking work that they do upon return to their

home countries. Finally, the participants wish to

thank the organizers and co-sponsors who made this

conference possible, specifically the Ministry of

Social Development and Human Security of the Royal

Thai Government, the Vital Voices Global Partnership,

the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the

United States Agency for International Development,

the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in

Persons in the United States Department of State, and

the Embassy of the United States in Bangkok, Thailand.

The participants believe that the results of this

conference directly reflect the leadership and

commitment of themselves, as well as these

organizations, in addressing the global phenomenon of

human trafficking.

 

BOYCE

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Written by thaicables

July 12, 2011 at 4:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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