|02KATHMANDU537||2002-03-14 10:55:00||UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY||Embassy Kathmandu|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 KATHMANDU 000537
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).
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
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
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
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
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.