92401 1/12/2007 14:04 07BUCHAREST47 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 07BUCHAREST47 VZCZCXRO6922 RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHBM #0047/01 0121404 ZNR UUUUU ZZH R 121404Z JAN 07 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5843 RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 000047
STATE FOR EUR/NCE - AARON JENSEN STATE FOR G/TIP - MEGAN HALL STATE FOR S/CRS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FOR OPDAT AND OJP DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE FOR FBI OFFICE OF VICTIM ASSISTANCE
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KJUS, PREL, SOCI, RO SUBJECT: ANTI-TRAFFICKING BEST PRACTICES: IMPROVING VICTIM/WITNESS COORDINATION
1. (SBU) Summary: In continuing efforts to work with the Romanian Government on Trafficking in Persons issues, one "best practice" established by Embassy BucharestQs Department of Justice office (RLA) has been the creation of a victim/witness coordination program. The Romanian National Anti-Trafficking Agency (ANAT) has enthusiastically adopted this program and has now begun implementing it nationwide. Successful prosecutions for trafficking in Romania are heavily contingent on obtaining the cooperation of victims, and in the past, the Romanian legal system did little to facilitate the testimony of witnesses in legal proceedings. Cases against traffickers were frequently dropped for lack of testimony or evidence. With the establishment of ANAT in December 2005, RLA found a partner within the Romanian government that was willing to work to improve the coordination between the Romanian legal system and victims and witnesses and to ensure that they remained willing to testify in court over the long haul. Embassy RLA and ANAT held the first training seminar in November 2006 and have scheduled three follow-up seminars for 2007. This is the first in a series of cables on "best practices" derived from Embassy Bucharest's efforts to work against Trafficking in Persons with the cooperation of the Romanian National Anti-Trafficking Agency (ANAT), other branches of the GOR, anti-TIP NGOs and other organizations. End Summary.
How TIP Traffickers Can Go Unpunished in Romania
2. (SBU) In November 2004, a senior Romanian prosecutor responsible for investigating organized crime reported that prosecutors lost contact with 40 percent of all TIP victims after their first interview. As a result, although Romanian law enforcement institutions continued to improve their ability to investigate TIP offenses, this progress was not necessarily reflected in the statistics for successful prosecution of TIP offenders. Other complicating factors affecting the rate of success in TIP cases included the length of time that cases take to reach a final verdict (which requires the exhaustion of all appellate remedies) and imprecise statistics on the number of cases where prosecutors determined that the victim was either unavailable or insufficiently reliable to proceed with the case. However, the most significant challenge in the prosecution of TIP cases was to maintain the cooperation of victims throughout the lengthy trial process. Advice from internationally produced manuals such as the UNDP Best Practices Manual on TIP assumes the existence of adequate shelters for TIP victims, with TIP victims generally considered to be the responsibility of law enforcement until they are placed in a shelter. In practice, the overwhelming majority of identified TIP victims in Romania have chosen not to accept shelter services. State-sponsored TIP shelters in Romania assisted fewer than forty-five adult victims between the enactment of legislation mandating their creation in 2001 and January of 2006. By contrast, in 2005 alone, the Ministry of Interior reported identifying 1,491 adult women who were victims of TIP offenses.
3. (SBU) The low rate of usage of TIP shelters in Romania does not appear to be related to the quality of the facilities or the adequacy of their services. Although the quality of state sponsored TIP shelters in Romania is mixed, newly built shelters with state-of-the-art facilities have not been substantially more successful at attracting victims than shelters with more modest accommodations. Although NGO shelters with a focus on long-term rehabilitation continue to attract young victims, adult victims do not appear to be attracted to the short-term, emergency services for which most state shelters are tailored. There may be practical reasons for this stemming from RomaniaQs role as a source country. Victims returning to Romania as part of a formal repatriation process are likely to have already spent time in a shelter in their country of destination. They may not be interested in continuing or repeating that experience following their return to Romania. Victims who return to Romania on their own volition are likely to have already located a place to stay by the time that they are identified as victims through follow-up investigations by law enforcement. They thus may see little benefit in disrupting their status quo arrangement for the short-term
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benefits of an emergency shelter. Regardless of the reasons, shelters have not proven an effective strategy for maintaining the cooperation of TIP victims in Romania.
4. (SBU) Since most TIP victims are not under GOR or NGO protection while legal proceedings are underway, another option would be sustained contact by the prosecutor or continuing legal assistance through court-appointed counsel. In practice, however, this is not a sustainable solution. Prosecutors in Romania are dissuaded by their role as independent magistrates from identifying themselves with victims in cases. Once an investigation is complete, the investigating prosecutor has no further role in the case. A separate prosecutor appears at trial to serve as a liaison between the court and the prosecutors office. This prosecutor is a procedural expert who typically has no contact with the victim and little direct role in calling and questioning witnesses. As a result, victims frequently receive no direct advice or encouragement about their testimony from prosecutors. Court appointed counsel have an equally limited role in encouraging victims to maintain their cooperation throughout the trial. In practice, the appointment of counsel is for a limited period, often just for a specific interview or court appearance. In the majority of cases there is no continuity of counsel from appearance to appearance and no ongoing representation between appearances.
5. (SBU) During the time that the legal proceedings take place, TIP victims are vulnerable to a number of pressures that discourage them from testifying, including pressure from family and friends who are either ambivalent toward the criminal justice system or openly hostile toward it. In some cases defendants offer bribes in exchange for the victims' changing their testimony or employ threats of retaliation if victims persist in testifying. Victims often lack a sophisticated understanding of the criminal justice system, including the processes involved in the investigation and trial. A victim who persists in testifying is likely to encounter a crowded courtroom with few familiar faces. Neither the prosecutor who investigated the case nor the law enforcement officer who initially interviewed the victim will be present. Cases are often subject to delay, which can be sought by defendants for tactical reasons. Thus, a victimQs initial resolve to testify can be broken down through an increasing sense that the system does not have their interests at heart.
Getting Victims to Testify, Keeping them in Court
6. (SBU) In response to these circumstances, Embassy Bucharest RLA has encouraged the development of a system for coordinating contacts between victims and the courts. Coordinators in this system have four responsibilities: (1) to maintain updated contact information for the victim and to provide the victim with information about the status of the case; (2) to provide the victim with general information about the court system in order to demystify the trial process and make it less intimidating; (3) to provide the victim with logistical assistance in getting to court; and (4) to provide the victim with information about services available regionally. RLA advocacy for this system stemmed from an assessment conducted by U.S. victimsQ specialists in 2004. This was followed by a study tour of state and federal victim/witness programs in the U.S. by a team of Romanian justice officials representing prosecutors, judges, law enforcement, and the Ministry of Justice. The RLA has continued to reinforce the theme of victim/witness coordination through a number of additional programs that gave rise to a discussion of the TIP phenomenon or of victimsQ issues generally. These have included judicial symposiums and specialized workshops on pretrial services, supervised release, and victim impact statements. RLA efforts culminated in the inclusion of victim/witness coordination in the National Anti-Trafficking Strategy in the summer of 2006 and a decision by ANAT in September to adopt the initiative as one of its priorities.
7. (SBU) ANAT was created by a Government Decision in December of 2005. It was created as a "coordinating agency" under the authority of the Romanian Interior
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Ministry. Its responsibilities include coordinating the fight against TIP; coordinating the collection of data on the TIP phenomenon; and monitoring resources available to TIP victims. ANATQs President, Dan Licsandru, was appointed in March of 2006, with the agency becoming operational in May. Licsandru had previously served as the Chief of International Coordination for the National Anti-Drug Agency, and visited the U.S. as a participant in the Department's International Visitors Program. ANAT oversaw the creation of a new National Anti-TIP Strategy, which gave rise to discussions with the Embassy RLA about the potential benefits of improving victim/witness coordination. Following Licsandru's decision in September 2006 to adopt the project, Licsandru designated Diana Tudorache--a psychologist who previously worked with IOM in Kosovo--to manage the program.
8. (SBU) In November 2006, Embassy RLA sponsored the first of a series of programs on victim/witness coordination, featuring Heather Cartwright, the chief of the victim/witness coordination unit at the U.S. AttorneyQs Office for the District of Washington. Cartwright participated in the initial assessment of victim coordination issues in TIP cases in February 2004, returning in November to participate in a seminar in Galati to promote the new unit's development by ANAT. The seminar was attended by 70 justice officials from territorial offices in Eastern Romania between Constanta and Botosani. The seminar included participation from Traian Gherasim, a Senior Judge in the Criminal Section of the High Court of Cassation and Justice. Judge Gherasim was a participant in the RLA-sponsored study tour on victim/witness coordination in September 2004. The seminars were concluded with three sub-regional breakout groups that discussed specific measures for implementing victim/witness coordination in the regions of Constanta, Bacau, and Iasi.
9. (SBU) COMMENT: From all reports, the program in Galati was welcomed by ANAT staff, especially those individuals who were designated as victim/witness coordinators. This is buttressed by the fact that Embassy has fielded numerous requests from prosecutors and organized crime officers in Galati, Iasi, Timisoara, and Craiova in securing the assistance of ANAT victim/witness coordination services. Given that this concept is relatively novel to Romania, the program may encounter bureaucratic obstacles that will need to be overcome. However, Embassy RLA anticipates that these obstacles are manageable and, in the end, the training will lead to more successfully prosecuted TIP cases. Three additional training seminars in different regions of Romania are planned for fiscal year 2007 and readouts from these seminars will be reported Septel. End Comment.