Viewing cable 03HANOI1671
Title: An Giang: TIP Problem Depends on Point of View

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03HANOI16712003-07-02 07:43:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Hanoi
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 001671 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EAP/BCLTV, G/TIP, and DRL 
 
E.O. 12958:  NA 
TAGS: PHUM KCRM KWMN SNAR PGOV SOCI VM CNARC TIP
SUBJECT:  An Giang:  TIP Problem Depends on Point of View 
 
¶1.  (U)  Summary:  An Giang local government and mass 
organization officials do not agree on the seriousness of the 
Trafficking in Persons (TIP) in their province.  Women's Union 
and the Department of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs 
(DOLISA) officials portray a fairly serious problem while local 
police say they detect one or two cases a year involving three or 
four victims each.  NGO's have generally depicted An Giang as a 
TIP hotbed.  End Summary. 
 
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Criminal Police:  TIP not really a problem here 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
¶2.  (U)  Lt. Col. Nguyen Van Minh met poloff, Congen EconJO and 
FSN at the provincial criminal police office in Long Xuyen to 
discuss TIP in An Giang province.  Lt. Col. Minh said that about 
100 criminal police and local officers are specifically 
responsible for preventing TIP-related crimes in An Giang. 
According to Lt. Col. Minh there are only about two TIP cases a 
year, usually involving one, sometimes two traffickers and three 
or four victims.  He added that there might be a few more small- 
scale traffickers operating in the province, but expressed 
confidence that police were catching almost all traffickers.  He 
said that traffickers usually trick women into thinking that they 
can get jobs in Cambodia.  As far as police knew, he clarified, 
only local people were involved in human trafficking.  While 
asserting that the human traffickers were not involved with other 
illegal activity, he admitted that police did not know about any 
connections the traffickers might have in Cambodia.  Convicted 
human traffickers receive sentences of ten years or more if the 
victim is under seventeen, but if not and it is a first offense, 
the prison sentence is usually only two years, according to Lt. 
Col. Minh. 
 
¶3.  (U)  Provincial police only cooperate with district-level 
police to investigate traffickers, not with Cambodian authorities 
or even with GVN border guards.  Despite many claims to the 
contrary, Lt. Col Minh said that An Giang was not being used as a 
transit route from other provinces to Cambodia.  An Giang is also 
a source of many Vietnamese brides who have gone to Taiwan.  Lt. 
Col. Minh said that police have not investigated these because 
they are legal marriages. 
 
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But there is a drug problem 
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¶4.  (U)  In contrast, Col. Lam Minh Huynh, who said he was in 
charge of An Giang's counter-narcotics efforts, there is a 
"complicated" drug problem in the province.  (Note:  Col. Huynh 
said that he has attended an ILEA training in Bangkok.  End 
note.)  Many young people were addicted and the number was 
increasing, particularly in rural areas.  It was difficult to 
stop traffickers because the border with Cambodia is relatively 
open, and if things get too hot on one side, they can cross over 
easily.  Since Thailand began its "crackdown" against drug 
dealers, things have been getting better in An Giang, although 
Col. Huynh admitted that he did not know why. 
 
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DOLISA:  It is hard to tell who has been trafficked 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
¶5.  (U)  Provincial DOLISA Director Nguyen Thi Nga described her 
department's efforts to prevent TIP and assist victims.  She 
explained that An Giang did not have a mechanism to track the 
number of TIP victims, but added that the provincial People's 
Committee decided the problem was sufficiently severe that they 
held a meeting to coordinate a response to the problem.  DOLISA's 
primary task was to help TIP victims and women who had willingly 
gone to Cambodia -- and for whatever reason decided to engage in 
prostitution there -- to reintegrate into the community upon 
their return.  Director Nga indicated that tens of women were 
involved in DOLISA's programs.  However, these programs are open 
to a variety of women in difficult circumstances, not just TIP 
victims.  (Note:  It was not clear whether Director Nga included 
women who went to Cambodia willingly and were subsequently 
tricked into prostitution as TIP victims, although this may be 
considered trafficking under current Vietnamese law.  End Note.) 
She explained that it was difficult to tell who was a TIP victim, 
because there were women who had gone to Cambodia for legitimate 
employment or business reasons.  Some of them had subsequently 
fallen on hard times.  A few of these may have then been tricked 
into prostitution and thus become TIP victims, but many had 
engaged in prostitution voluntarily.  Regardless, as returnees, 
they were eligible for assistance. 
 
¶6.  (U)  Without catching the traffickers "redhanded" it was 
difficult to prove trafficking, she said.  Contrary to MPS, 
Director Nga said that there was considerable cross border TIP in 
An Giang, mostly involving people lured from other provinces. 
She added that nine TIP victims have been repatriated through 
diplomatic channels to Binh Thanh Dong district.  Among them were 
three women who were not from that district or even apparently 
from An Giang.  It was even possible that the three were actually 
ethnic Vietnamese Cambodian citizens.  Per an interministerial 
agreement Director Nga said, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is 
attempting to find the families of these women.  While the other 
women are participating in DOLISA reintegration programs, these 
three are staying in a DOLISA-run social welfare center in Long 
Xuyen. 
 
¶7.  (U)  DOLISA is working with a French NGO, Terre des Hommes 
(TDH), on an anti-TIP program in Binh Thanh Dong and Phu Tan 
districts called "Women and Child Trafficking Prevention Across 
the Border" Director Nga said.  These are deemed the most 
vulnerable areas because women there have been tricked.  The 
programs address job creation, hunger alleviation and poverty 
eradication.  Some women have received training in sewing and 
obtained jobs in garment factories, while 20 others went to Can 
Tho University to learn advanced agricultural skills that they 
are teaching to their neighbors.  While some of the beneficiaries 
are returned trafficking victims, others are eligible because 
they are part of vulnerable groups. 
 
¶8.  (U)  Director Nga declared that education, not poverty was 
the main problem behind TIP in An Giang.  Most victims had little 
education and little awareness of TIP.  She said victims 
generally had Grade Five or Six educations, at the most.  Higher 
education levels and more awareness of TIP would be key not only 
to eliminating TIP, but to eradicating poverty and hunger too. 
 
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Women's Union:  mass organization makes massive education effort 
--------------------------------------------- ------------------- 
 
¶9.  (U)  Nguyen Ngoc Mai, head of the An Giang provincial Women's 
Union (WU) delivered a prepared statement about TIP  while other 
senior members of the WU and the provincial Committee on 
Population, Families, and Children (CPFC) looked on, nodding in 
agreement.  Ms. Mai said that unsettled economic conditions and 
frequent flooding in An Giang contribute to "social evils" 
including TIP.  Women are "deceived" and "cheated," especially to 
go to Cambodia.  Others claim to be "tricked" into marrying 
foreigners, especially Taiwanese.  When they have been able to 
return they have said that they were not treated as "wives." 
 
¶10.  (U)  While the WU has not done research and does not know 
the number of victims, Ms. Mai said that victims have revealed 
that women usually cross the Cambodian border "unofficially" with 
friends who say they can get them a job as a nanny, cafe girl, or 
maid.  Others are similarly tricked to going to cities in 
Vietnam.  Sometimes traffickers invite victims to come with them 
to "visit family and friends in Cambodia," but deliver them to 
brothels where they are held against their will instead.  Ms. Mai 
said that not all of the women are tricked into crossing the 
border or into prostitution, some of them simply have exercised 
poor judgment, are lazy, or think they can get rich quickly. 
 
¶11.  (U)  Protecting women and children from "social evils" such 
as TIP is a "high priority" of the WU, the GVN, and the Communist 
Party of Vietnam (CPV), Ms. Mai declared, adding that such ills 
are bad for "social order, family and spiritual happiness, and 
are prohibited by the laws of Vietnam."  The GVN and mass 
organizations have targeted lending, housing, employment, 
agricultural production, and education programs to fight these 
evils, she noted.  The An Giang WU works on step-by-step TIP 
awareness-raising, especially in remote rural areas where people 
have little access to print media or even radio and television. 
 
¶12.  (U)  Ms. Mai explained that with assistance from the 
national WU, the An Giang WU held nine courses between May 2002 
and May 2003 for 470 trainers to raise awareness of TIP.  The 
trainers have focused their efforts in 14 communes.  They 
distributed 57,000 leaflets in these communes and conducted 
11,400 meetings with 216,000 An Giang women.  They have organized 
competitions with district-level WU to role-play the negative 
effects of TIP.  A result, Ms. Mai claimed, was to increase an 
initial set of 134 groups -- comprising 1,461 women who had 
committed to not allowing their children to become TIP victims -- 
to 634 groups comprising 9,735 women who have made this 
commitment. 
 
¶13.  (U)  The provincial WU gives "direct" assistance to at-risk 
women, enabling them to enter poverty-reduction programs that 
have created 5,000 jobs, conducted 18 sewing and other vocational 
training courses, and led to the creation of 1,130 "loan groups" 
comprising 18,999 women, according to Ms. Mai. 
 
¶14.  (U)  Ms. Mai also described a cooperative program the An 
Giang Women's Union has been undertaking with the International 
Organization for Migration (IOM) since 2001 to assist with victim 
reintegration.  One component has been to train 30 WU and CPFC 
staff members to locate victims -- including those who have 
returned through unofficial channels -- and help them through the 
process of reintegration.  Female community elders are key to 
this because their respected community positions allow them to 
confidentially approach victims who are otherwise unwilling to 
 
SIPDIS 
admit that they have been trafficked.  First approaches may be 
through victims' parents, but in other cases the community worker 
may decide it is best to keep the victim's history from the 
family.  The goal of such intervention is to try to stabilize the 
victims' lives, according to Ms. Mai.  She commented that this 
may mean helping some victims accept their "difficult lives", and 
that they must make money "the hard way" as well as manage their 
own budgets. 
 
¶15.  (U)  Comment:  The three differing outlooks outlined above 
say as much about institutional interests as they do about the 
state of the TIP problem in An Giang.  NGOs and IOs active in 
anti-TIP efforts in Vietnam generally consider An Giang's problem 
to be relatively serious, but have yet to reliably estimate how 
large.  Provincial authorities did really not shed any light on 
the scale of the problem either.  The stigma victims and near- 
victims may face, even from an organization such as the WU that 
is trying to combat TIP, discourages them from coming forward. 
Less judgmental points of view are becoming more common, 
sometimes in unexpected quarters, such as DOLISA, and continued 
cooperation and attention to TIP should produce more productive 
outlooks and results.  PORTER