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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08DAMASCUS848 2008-11-26 14:15:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Damascus
Cable title:  

SARG DRAFT LEGISLATION ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

Tags:   PHUM PGOV KDEM SY 
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DE RUEHDM #0848 3311415
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261415Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5635
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 000848 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT PASS TO BIJAL SHAH

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/26/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM SY
SUBJECT: SARG DRAFT LEGISLATION ON TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
STILL IN REWRITE PHASE

Classified By: CDA Maura Connelly for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: A G/TiP funded grant to the International
Office for Migration (IOM) for training Syrian police in
trafficking in persons issues remains unspent. The proposed
program depended upon the SARG first passing legislation on
human trafficking. The draft legislation is currently under
review with the MFA and there is no clear date on when it
will be passed into law. An IOM program officer encouraged
Post to meet directly with SARG on the subject of human
trafficking during a recent meeting about the G/TiP grant.
END SUMMARY.



1. (C) IOM National Program Officer Laila Tomeh met with us
on November 24 to discuss a G/TiP funded grant designed to
provide capacity building training for Syrian police on
identifying and assessing human trafficking, as well as
developing operating procedures for protecting and assisting
victims of trafficking in Syria. The project, which was to
begin on August 11 and last one year, is on hold until the
SARG approves legislation on trafficking in persons. Until
there is a legal framework in place to guide police, it is
impossible for IOM to create a training program, according to
Tomeh.



2. (C) Tomeh reported that when IOM submitted its grant
proposal to G/TiP, it thought the Syrian Cabinet was close to
approving the draft legislation. The legislation had been
drafted by committee at the MFA level, with some IOM
guidance, and sent to the Cabinet for endorsement. The
Cabinet, in turn, sent the draft to MOJ for review. The MOJ
had reservations on the draft language and returned it with
its amendments to the Cabinet, who in turn sent it back to
the MFA, where it remains today.



3. (C) G/TiP awarded IOM $250,000 in grant money. IOM has not
charged anything against the grant. Tomeh could not offer any
insight as to when the MFA would push the legislation back to
the Cabinet. She did say, however, that she hoped that once
the SARG had passed the trafficking law the grant funds would
still be available. At present, IOM is preparing to
participate in a December 3-4 workshop with Parliament on
raising awareness about trafficking issues in Syria. Tomeh
said IOM would use the workshop as an opportunity to
sensitize Parliament to key elements of the legislation.



4. (C) Regarding Syria's tier three status in the
Department's annual Trafficking in Persons Report (TiP),
Tomeh noted that the U.S. ranks the SARG low, but never
visits with the relevant SARG offices to discuss trafficking
issues and learn details about the government's efforts and
their general perspective. As part of Post's International
Visitor Program, Tomeh traveled to the U.S. in June 9-27 on a
trafficking in persons program for people from NEA and SCA.
During her outbrief with a State Department officer, Tomeh
explained to us, that she asked why Embassy Damascus officers
had not in the past (to her knowledge) directly engaged SARG
on trafficking issues, and whether they would in the future.
IOM, Tomeh intimated, might play a role in facilitating such
an engagement if we were willing.



5. (C) COMMENT: SARG's sloth-like movement of the trafficking
legislation is likely to be a product bureacratic
inefficiencies. Our contacts at UNHCR and IOM state that the
SARG has been generally cooperative when UNHCR case officers
have sought the release of female Iraqi refugees who were
arrested for prostitution and slated for deportation. Despite
the current SARG freeze on official contacts with Embassy
Damascus, post may attempt to present low-level SARG
counterparts with the criteria for the TiP ranking system and
with recommendations on how better to deter human
trafficking. END COMMENT
CONNELLY