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E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: KCRM, PHUM, KWMN, SMIG, KFRD, ASEC, PREF, ELAB, PL SUBJECT: POLAND: SEVENTH ANNUAL (2007) TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT SUBMISSION
REF: 06 STATE 202745
1. (SBU) Following are responses keyed to questions in paragraphs 27-31 of REFTEL. Embassy point of contact is Political Officer Daniel Gedacht (telephone: 48-22- 504-2621, fax 48-22-504-2613, e-mail GedachtDC@state.gov). POLOFF (FO-04) spent 45 hours collecting data and compiling report; one political locally engaged staff member spent a total of 45 hours collecting data.
2. (SBU) OVERVIEW: Answers keyed to para 27 of REFTEL
27A. Poland is a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking in persons. The main groups at risk are unemployed women, women from the poorest regions of Poland, and victims of domestic violence. Some trafficking occurs within Poland's borders, but most cases involve women and children being trafficked to, from, or through Poland. The illicit nature of trafficking in persons makes it difficult to determine the number of victims, particularly those of Polish citizenship, and estimates vary substantially. The main sources for information and statistics contained in this cable are international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN officials, OSCE/ODIHR contacts, and Polish officials, including those in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior Affairs and Administration, Ministry of Justice, Border Guards and National Police. All of these have proven to be reliable sources.
27B. Since Poland joined the European Union in 2004 there has been a notable rise in trafficking of Polish men and women to EU countries for forced labor. Persons are trafficked to and through Poland from countries to the east and southeast, primarily Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, and Russia. There are also growing reports of Vietnamese nationals, along with small but notable numbers of Cameroonians, Somalis, and Ugandans being trafficked into, within, and through Poland. Ukraine continues to serve as the greatest source of persons trafficked through Poland, with Moldova also serving as a substantial source. Poles and foreigners are trafficked to Western Europe, especially Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, the
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Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden, as well as to Japan and Israel. Police statistics based on arrests and other direct contacts indicate that about 30 percent of the 7,300 prostitutes known to be working in Poland are of foreign origin. Most trafficking involves women trafficked into the sex trade, however, police and NGO experts estimate there is a growing percentage of victims forced to work in agricultural or other menial trades, a fact highlighted by two high-profile cases in 2006 of organized trafficking rings of Poles for forced labor (para 29J).
Political will to combat trafficking in persons remains strong; during the year the government allocated approximately $130,000 from the national budget to implement the National Anti-Trafficking Action Plan developed by the Interagency Anti- Trafficking Working Group (the " Interagency Working Group.") NGO experts report that their cooperation with the government continues to improve.
Victims are trafficked to Poland primarily for work in "massage parlors" and "escort agencies," i.e., brothels. However, there have also been documented cases of victims forced to work in agriculture, in sweatshops and forced to beg on the streets. Victims in the sex trade are forced to work as nude dancers or prostitutes, and are often deprived of their passports and identity papers, and threatened with violence. In the case of forced prostitution, victims failing to service a minimum number of clients each day may suffer physical abuse. Police estimate 750 "escort agencies" operate in Poland, with approximately 3,500 women working in them. Press and NGO sources, meanwhile, put the number of women working in all elements of the sex industry in Poland at anywhere from 18,000 to 20,000.
Traffickers in Poland target young, unemployed or poorly paid Polish women for the sex trade, and poor men and women for labor. They focus on individuals with poor family ties and weak support networks. According to the NGO La Strada, 80 percent of Polish victims are under 24 years of age. Traffickers approach young victims with promises of lucrative jobs in Western Europe as domestic workers, dancers, cooks, agricultural laborers, or wait staff. The victims are told that their handlers will take care of all documentation and are asked to turn over their
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passports. While some of the victims may know they are involved in an illegal employment ploy, most do not realize that they will be performing forced sexual services or labor. A second method of recruitment is for a trafficker, usually residing permanently outside Poland, to feign emotional involvement and persuade his future victim to visit him abroad. In both cases, victims are subsequently detained and forced into prostitution through threat, blackmail or violence. Often, traffickers are connected with organized crime syndicates. If a victim is transported with documentation, they travel by train or car; if illegally, they are hidden in trucks or cars, or walk across unguarded borders.
27C. There are no limitations on Poland's law- enforcement activities, but government efforts on education and victim assistance have been primarily carried out by NGOs using increasing amounts of local and national government funding along with foreign government funding. According to the coordinator of the Interagency Working Group, officers from various government agencies were trained in identification of trafficking victims and victim assistance in all of the 16 Polish provinces during the year. All incoming National Police are reported to receive basic instruction on the subject. Police and border guards participated in joint training exercises with the United States, Great Britain, and Ukraine, and GOP officials welcome victim assistance and other advanced training programs.
Poland's criminal code outlaws human trafficking, but does not specifically define it. NGOs, law enforcement, and prosecutors generally use the 2001 Palermo Protocol definition in addressing human trafficking; however NGOs claim that the absence of such a definition in national law is problematic because prosecutors and especially judges are not sufficiently well informed or aware of the offense. The Interagency Working Group ranks amending the criminal code to incorporate the Palermo Protocol definition as a major priority of the National Action Plan for 2007-2008.
Proper identification of victims of trafficking is another problem. Despite increased training efforts for police and border guards, countless victims are not properly identified. To address this, Warsaw
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University's Human Trafficking Studies Center prepared a questionnaire to aid the identification of victims, and a six-month trial is underway in four provinces during the first half of 2007.
The GOP has increased its trafficking awareness program through posters and billboards, as well as by financially supporting NGOs to produce such materials. The high-profile Italian forced labor case (para 29J), in which over 300 Poles were held in forced labor camps, with and the whereabouts of at least nine Polish nationals still unknown, may have had an impact on changing the publicQs attitude.
27D. During the year, the Interagency Working Group produced a report that summarized the governmentQs implementation of the 2005-2006 National Action Plan. The National Police Public Affairs Unit informs the public systematically about its efforts and publishes its trafficking statistics annually on its website. The National Prosecutor's Office of the Ministry of Justice maintains records of investigations and legal actions taken against traffickers, and works closely with provincial and local prosecutors to ensure accurate reporting. In addition, La Strada works with the Polish government to document cases.
3. (SBU) PREVENTION: Answers keyed to paragraph 28 of REFTEL
28A. Polish government officials at the highest levels acknowledge the seriousness of the trafficking problem in Poland, and are taking action to address the problem. In January the Interagency Working Group adopted the National Action Plan for Combating and Prevention of Human Trafficking for 2007-2008, which follows on and strengthens the previous Plans from 2003-2004 and 2005-2006.
28B. The National Action Plan was developed by the Interagency Working Group composed of high-level representatives of 12 government agencies, academics and NGOs (Ministries of Interior and Administration, Foreign Affairs, Education, Labor and Social Policy, and Justice; Border Guards and National Police; NGOs Caritas, La Strada, and Nobody's Children, and the University of Zielona Gora). The National Program is a strategy document that seeks to coordinate the efforts of various GOP and private sector entities
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involved in combating trafficking. The Ministry of Interior has the lead in coordinating the working group's activities. The GOP allocated approximately $2 million to the National Action Plan for trafficking victim's assistance. Outside of this, individual agencies are expected to fund anti-trafficking initiatives from their own budgets.
28 C. During the year, both La Strada and Caritas ran a number of education/prevention campaigns on human trafficking that government bodies funded. Between April and December La Strada organized a series of workshops on human rights and violence against women for at-risk teenage girls living in Warsaw orphanages and child care centers. The Warsaw local government and British Embassy co-funded these sessions. The British Embassy also sponsored a La Strada information campaign in schools in poorer, rural regions. La Strada further organized an awareness campaign at Polish-Ukrainian border crossings aimed at Ukrainian females, and published guidebooks aimed at informing Poles going abroad for work and foreign women coming to Poland to work about the risks of trafficking.
The Catholic NGO Caritas Warsaw used its own funds to organize prevention campaigns in Warsaw high schools. The campaign took the form of two- and four-hour workshops on human trafficking and forced prostitution. Caritas Warsaw also joined an international campaign against trafficking in persons and forced prostitution organized by German and Dutch NGOs for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. In cooperation with the Border Guards and governors of Dolnoslaskie, Lubuskie and Zachodniopomorskie Provinces, Caritas Warsaw distributed more than eight thousand leaflets and two thousand posters in Polish, Bulgarian, Russian, Romanian and English.
The Interagency Working Group sponsored two conferences on trafficking in March and November, which brought together leading national and international government ministries, law enforcement bodies, and NGOs to highlight the problem of trafficking. A similar conference will take place in June 2007, and the GOP has designated June 11 as "TIP Victims' Day."
28D. The Government of Poland supports a variety of social programs that indirectly work to prevent
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trafficking in persons by promoting the status of women. After the Office of the Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Status of Women and Men closed down in 2005, the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy took over its responsibilities. The MinistryQs Department for Women, Family and Counteracting Discrimination is implementing a number of projects aimed at combating gender discrimination at workplaces. Many of the projects are either funded or co-funded by EU structural funds. The projects include research on the status of women in the labor market, promoting gender equality through the internet, and encouraging women to combine family and maternity duties with a career by promoting the sharing of household and parenting duties.
The Department is also implementing an EU Project of 2007 as the "Year of Equal Opportunity." The Project is aimed at combating discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation. The project will give grants to Polish NGOs that carry out various projects/activities combating discrimination.
28E. The GOP recognizes the importance of NGOs and other elements of civil society in preventing trafficking in persons, and actively worked with them to develop the National Action Plan. The GOP relies on and works closely with NGOs for victim protection projects, law-enforcement training, and prevention campaigns. Both government officials and NGO representatives describe the relationship between the GOP and anti-trafficking organizations as open, positive, and deepening.
28F. The GOP devotes considerable resources to monitoring its borders. The Border Guards continue to receive high marks from Western European counterparts for the quality of their training and effectiveness of their enforcement activities. Thanks to training programs implemented by La Strada, Polish border guards are now trained to detect and assist victims of trafficking. Border Guards discover potential TIP victims most often during document inspections that they hold to check the legality of aliens' stays in Poland. To improve detection and victim identification, police in four border provinces are utilizing a questionnaire developed by Warsaw University for a six-month trial in the first half of
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28G. The Interagency Working Group coordinates activities among the various government agencies and NGOs on trafficking-related matters. Polish officials actively participate in international trafficking conferences. The Polish National Police (PNP) participate in several bilateral task forces that share information, track the movements of traffickers and victims across borders and coordinate repatriations and casework. Bilateral efforts include Polish task forces which work jointly with Czech, German, and Swedish Police forces, and one multilateral task force that coordinates efforts among Polish and Baltic-nation Police forces on anti-TIP efforts. There is also an active National Anti- Corruption Strategy, managed by the Central Bureau of Anti-Corruption.
28H. In January 2007 the Interagency Working Group adopted the third two-year National Action Plan for Combating Trafficking, which covers 2007-2008. All GOP agencies involved in anti-trafficking efforts consulted with major NGOs, a format that has been used since the first Plan in 2003-2004. The latest Plan sets 18 separate goals in four areas: prevention and research, legislation, prosecution/law enforcement (including international cooperation), and victim support and protection.
4. INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS: Answers keyed to paragraph 29 of Reftel
29A. Polish law prohibits forcing individuals into prostitution, trafficking in human beings, and pimping. The relevant sections of the Criminal Code are Articles 204, section 4 (sexual trafficking) and 253 (sexual and non-sexual trafficking) effective since September 1, 1998. The laws cover both internal and external trafficking, and do not require proof that the victim was coerced in order to secure a conviction. Poland has adopted the UN Protocol on Trafficking in Persons (Palermo Protocol). The National ProsecutorQs Office uses this definition of trafficking in its prosecutions and states that it has not been adversely affected by the absence of a specific definition in Polish national law. However, NGOs and law enforcement officials indicate that the lack of a definition does negatively impact effective
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prosecution. The Interagency Working Group ranks amending the criminal code to incorporate the Palermo Protocol definition as a major priority of the National Action Plan for 2007-2008.
29B. The maximum penalty for trafficking in persons is 15 years' imprisonment under Article 253 of the Criminal Code (minimum of 3 yearsQ imprisonment). This Article of the Code does not require proof of trafficking connected with prostitution. Article 204, section 4 of the Code provides for up to 10 yearsQ imprisonment for trafficking involving prostitution. This article is not often used, as prosecutors use article 253 in most trafficking cases. Most sentences are shorter than the maximum, with the most severe sentences reserved for those convicted of trafficking minors for the purpose of prostitution or luring/abducting adults into prostitution abroad.
29C. There are no provisions in the criminal code that specifically address trafficking for labor exploitation. Such cases, including the high-profile cases from Italy and Spain (para 29J), are prosecuted under Articles 204 and 253 as described above, or organized crime statutes, as appropriate.
29D. According to Criminal Code Article 197, using violence, threat, or deceit to force a person to have sexual intercourse is punishable by one to 10 years' imprisonment. Using such means to force a person into other sexual activity is punishable by three months' to five years' imprisonment. In cases involving more than one perpetrator or excessive cruelty, the punishment ranges from two to 12 years imprisonment, compared to up to 15 years for trafficking under Article 253. Polish prosecutors have expressed interest in using the multiple perpetrator/excessive cruelty provision of the law to sentence traffickers to longer sentences, although this has not been tested in court.
29E. Prostitution in Poland is legal; but "pimping" or otherwise profiting from a prostitute's activities is illegal. Under the current version of the Polish Criminal Code, the legal age of consent to sexual activity is 15. Poland has ratified the Palermo Protocol, the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Children (of May 25, 2000), and the EU Convention on the Rights of Children. All of these
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documents prohibit prostitution by individuals less than 18 years of age. In the opinion of the National ProsecutorQs office, according to the Polish Constitution (Art. 87) and international law, the provisions of these documents automatically become part of Polish law and act to prohibit child prostitution as therein defined. Full implementation of the protocols and Convention will require changes, inter alia, in the Polish Criminal, Family and Labor Codes. The prosecutorQs office additionally states that anyone (including a parent) assisting a person under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution would be assumed to be benefiting financially from this assistance and would be investigated and prosecuted accordingly.
29F. According to the National ProsecutorQs Office, in 2006 the Polish prosecutors concluded 26 investigations, of which 17 resulted in indictments and nine were dismissed due to the lack of sufficient evidence. In the 17 indictments, 36 individuals were indicted under article 253 of the criminal code on trafficking charges, compared to 42 in 2005. 126 victims were involved in the 17 cases that resulted in indictments. 19 of these 126 victims were minors. Of the 36 individuals indicted, there were four Bulgarians and two Ukrainians.
According to the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Justice, there were 10 convictions under article 253 of the penal code in the first half of 2006. Of the persons sentenced, seven were sentenced to a maximum -- former PM Koizumi, told Embassy Tokyo that Koizumi shares Kono's views and is remaining silent. Iijima forcefully stated that it was best for Japan's leaders to leave the Kono Declaration unchanged and remain silent on the comfort woman issue. More talk will lead to "escalation," Iijima warned.
Press split on handling the "comfort women" issue
5. (C) A March 7 editorial in the left-leaning Asahi (which has been in the lead in bringing the "comfort women" issue to public attention and criticizing the Japanese government response), urged PM Abe to avoid further remarks that might cause "unnecessary misunderstanding" abroad. However, the
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Asahi also accused the U.S. press and the South Korean government of going too far in their interpretations of Abe's comments on "coercion." Noting that the PM had been unequivocal in his commitment to abide by the Kono Statement, the Asahi suggested that Abe avoid further discussion of "detailed definitions and distinctions." An editorial in the moderately conservative Yomiuri described the Honda resolution as "full of misunderstandings and distorted historical facts." Both editorials called on the government to "accurately explain" the historical issues, including Japan's previous apologies, in order to prevent Congress from adopting the Honda resolution. An editorial in the right-wing Sankei blamed the controversy on a "makeshift policy," exemplified by the Kono Declaration, and noted that past apologies had only intensified criticism of Japan's wartime record. The press carried several reports from Beijing and Taipei on protests over Abe's remarks, noting that official reaction was "less strident" than expected. SCHIEFFER