193110 2/20/2009 15:55 09BRUSSELS244 Embassy Brussels UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 08SECSTATE132759 VZCZCXRO8220 OO RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBS #0244/01 0511555 ZNR UUUUU ZZH O 201555Z FEB 09 FM AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8616 INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE 0688 RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 1788 RUEHBM/AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST IMMEDIATE 4638 RUEHKI/AMEMBASSY KINSHASA IMMEDIATE 0502 RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 1803 RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 1574 RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI IMMEDIATE 0559 RUEHPS/AMEMBASSY PRISTINA IMMEDIATE 0001 RUEHSF/AMEMBASSY SOFIA IMMEDIATE 0324 RUEHTI/AMEMBASSY TIRANA IMMEDIATE 0482 RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC IMMEDIATE RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC IMMEDIATE RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC IMMEDIATE UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 09 BRUSSELS 000244
STATE PASS G/TIP, G-ACBLANK, EUR/WE, EUR/PGI, INL, DRL, PRM, AND USAID
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PHUM, KTIP, KCRM, KWMN, SMIG, KFRD, ASEC, PREF, ELAB, BE SUBJECT: BELGIUM: 2009 TIP REPORT -- CORRECTED COPY
REF: 2008 SECSTATE 132759
THIS IS A CORRECTED COPY OF BRUSSELS 237. (Reason - reftel and margins.)
1. (U) POC for Brussels is Political Officer Aaron Jensen. Email: JensenAW@state.gov; Office:33-2-508-2483.
2. (U) Hours spent by Embassy Brussels preparing this report by employee: Charge Wayne Bush (FE-MC):3 hours; Political-Economic Counselor Richard Eason (FO-01): 8 hours; Political Officer Aaron Jensen (FO-02): 31 hours; Office Management Specialist Ellen Hamblett (FS-05): 2 hours; Office Management Specialist D'Lynn Wicker (FS-06): 2 hours; Political Specialist Ivan Couttenier (LES-11): 120 hours.
3. (SBU) Begin Text of Report:
23. (SBU) THE COUNTRY'S TIP SITUATION
-- A. Information on trafficking in persons is supplied by the Federal Police, the Justice Ministry, the Center for Equal Opportunity and the Combat against Racism (CEOCR), the shelters for victims, NGOs, and is also available through parliamentary documents. These sources are publicly available, are reliable, and annually updated.
-- B. Belgium is a destination and transit country for trafficked persons. Female trafficking victims in Belgium are usually young women, primarily from Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia. Prominent source countries are Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, and Nigeria. Most victims are trafficked to Belgium's larger cities or other European countries (notably the United Kingdom) and are usually trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Male victims are typically trafficked for labor exploitation in restaurants, bars, sweatshops, horticulture, fruit farms, and construction sites. The main source countries of labor trafficking victims are China, India and Brazil.
-- C. Trafficking victims are often held in degrading conditions. Judges take the following conditions into consideration when rendering trafficking verdicts: housing conditions; workload and pay in economic exploitation cases; deprivation of identity documents; use of physical violence; and use of extortion. Victims of sexual exploitation often travel legally to Belgium, their destination country, and become illegal aliens by overstaying. Many girls were victims of sexual exploitation in their home countries.
-- D. Belgium is not a source country.
-- E. Traffickers include both large international crime syndicates and smaller criminal organizations active in several types of organized crime. . Criminal groups are increasingly professionally organized. Ring leaders often operate from outside Belgium and make use of middlemen. Most of these criminal organizations come from Western Africa, Bulgaria, and Romania. Female victims are offered lucrative jobs, but end up in the prostitution business. Whereas traditional prostitution is diminishing, massage parlors, commercial escort services, and internet prostitution are gaining ground. Victims of economic exploitation are often trafficked through employment agencies. Marriage brokers are also involved in trafficking.
24. (SBU) SETTING THE SCENE FOR THE GOVERNMENT'S ANTI-TIP EFFORTS:
-- A. The Belgian authorities acknowledge that trafficking is a problem.
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-- B. The Council of Ministers sets policy orientation, which is implemented through the Interdepartmental Coordination Unit for the Combat against Trafficking and Smuggling. The anti-TIP effort is a key part of the government's 2008-2011 law enforcement program. The Coordination Unit meets two or three times per year, and is chaired by the Justice Minister. A secondary, technical level inter-agency group meets monthly to carry out Coordination Unit's directives. This group includes representatives from the Criminal Policy Department of the Justice Ministry, the Center for Equal Opportunities and the Combat against Racism (CEOCR), the Immigration Office, the Federal Police, the State Security Service, the Social Welfare Ministry, and the Employment Ministry. The information gathering is in the hands of the IAMM/CIATTEH. The latter's capability to analyze trafficking is hampered, by the legal privacy restriction which forces IAMM/CIATTEH to use anonymous data.
-- C. Neither funding nor corruption is considered impediments to combating trafficking in Belgium. The CEOOR listed lack of parliamentary oversight in its 2007 annual report a as its chief recommendation; there is no specific parliamentary committee addressing trafficking.
-- D. Over the past several years Belgium has greatly improved its data gathering regarding trafficking, with information supplied by the Justice ministry, the Federal Police, and the three specialized trafficking shelters. The Center for Equal Opportunity and the Combat against Racism (CEOCR) is tasked with issuing an annual evaluation report on the government's anti-trafficking policy and efforts. The CEOCR's 2007 annual trafficking report was issued in May 2008.
25. (SBU) INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF TRAFFICKERS.
-- A. The first anti-smuggling measures were taken under the 1980 Access to the Territory, Residence, and Immigration Act. In 1995 Parliament adopted the first comprehensive anti-trafficking act. The Belgian act of April 13, 1995, contained a series of measures aimed at repressing human trafficking and child pornography. The law defined trafficking in persons as "helping in any way whatsoever, either directly or through an intermediary, an alien who enters or resides in Belgium, and, in doing so, directly or indirectly making use of fraudulent practices, violence, threats or any form of force against that alien on account of his or her uncertain administrative status or due to pregnancy, illness, disability or mental disorder."" In 2002, Parliament adopted legislation to combat organized crime more effectively. A further restructuring of the anti-trafficking effort occurred in 2004.
In 2005, lawmakers adopted a major overhaul of the 1995 legislation. It aligned Belgian legislation with prevailing European and international law, in particular the additional protocols to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (2000), The EU Council framework decision on combating trafficking in human beings (2002), the EU directive on the facilitation of unauthorized entry, transit and residence (2002), and the EU Council framework decision on the strengthening of the penal framework to prevent the facilitation of unauthorized entry, transit and residence.
Following passage of the 2005 law, it became possible to pursue criminal cases for recruiting, transporting, transiting, providing shelter, and passing on the control over persons for the purpose of prostitution, child pornography, exploitation of mendacity, economic exploitation, organ transplant or forced commitment of crimes. This law made it easier for the authorities to arrest slumlords, and combat forced begging. Moreover, the new
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legislation applied to both Belgian and foreign perpetrators, and it made possible to pursue domestic trafficking cases. It set a distinct definition for smuggling vs. trafficking, and made it impossible to invoke consent of the victim as a defense against criminal charges. Aggravating circumstances included committing fraud, threatening the life of the victims, involvement in a criminal organization, vulnerability of the victim (under age), use of violence, and causing severe harm to or death of the victim. The authorities amended the 2005 law in 2006 by making it a crime to contract a fake marriage, receive compensation for arranging a fake marriage, or inciting others to do so.
The September 15, 2006, law permitted trafficking victims who opted to collaborate with the authorities the ability to obtain legal guarantees to remain in Belgium. The legislation came into force June 1, 2007.
On February 1, 2007 the Justice Minister issued a new directive on investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases. The directive better defined economic exploitation, and it contained a detailed list of trafficking indicators. It outlined coordination by the prosecuting magistrates, and listed cases that have to be prioritized (young victims, human dignity, use of force, or organized nature of the crime). The directive also contained provisos on how police forces have to conduct investigations, and it emphasized the need to direct victims to specialized shelters.
-- B. and C. Persons convicted of violating anti-trafficking legislation are subject to one to five years of imprisonment and are fined between 2,750 Euros ($3,575) and 275,000 Euros ($357,500). For repeat offenders, those convicted for offences of an organized nature, or other aggravating circumstances, the punishment increases from 10 to 15 years imprisonment along with fines up to 550,000 euro. If the offenders belong to a criminal organization, or if the trafficking results in manslaughter, the punishment is 15 to 20 years imprisonment and a fine ranging from 5,000 euro ($6,500) to 825,000 euro ($1,072,500). Persons convicted of trafficking for economic exploitation are subject to one to five years imprisonment and are fined between 2,750 euro ($3,575) and 275,000 euro ($357,500). The law specifies that Belgian nationals can also be the victim of economic exploitation. The law defines economic exploitation as employment in circumstances that that violate the employee's human dignity. Belgium is using a much broader definition than the European Framework decision. The use of force or exploitation of vulnerability is not a requirement to an determination of exploitation. Employers or labor agents who confiscate workers' passports or travel documents for the purpose of trafficking or switch contracts without the worker's consent violate the law. Moreover, wage, hours, and working conditions that do not meet the standards of the prevailing labor legislation and collective bargaining agreements is exploitation of labor under Belgian law.
-- D. Penalties for rape and forcible sexual assault are rather similar, and range from five years up to 30 years imprisonment, if the crime results in the death of the victim.
-- E. (2008 LAW ENFORCEMENT STATISTICS WILL BE AVAILABLE AT A LATER DATE.) The courts systematically prosecute trafficking cases under the prevailing legislation as detailed under A., B., and C. Investigation of ad prosecution of trafficking is done according to a Justice Minister's directive which came into force on February 1, 2007. The directive provides police and magistrates a list of indicators to identify victims. The Federal Police handled 609 sexual exploitation cases and 220 economic exploitation cases in 2007, compared to 642 and 183 cases the previous year. The Federal Police handled 375 child prostitution and sex tourism cases,
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compared to 197 in 2006.
In January 2009, the police arrested three persons in connection with exploitation of girls coming from Brazil, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Russia. The Police in November 2008 arrested a Turkish national and his Bulgarian female partner who were exploiting and extorting Bulgarian workers on a chicken farm. The Police arrested on October 13, 2008 a physician who performed an abortion on a trafficking victim. In October 2008 three persons were arrested who were operating a prostitution ring active in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. The victims were mainly Nigerian girls. In June 2008 five persons were arrested who were involved in sexual exploitation and the drug trade. On July 1, 2008, the labor court magistrate's office conducted a search at Brussels' leading Conrad hotel where a sheikha and her relatives from the United Arab Emirates were illegally exploitation 17 servants. Eleven of the servants opted to collaborate with the judicial authorities. Eight family members were charged with human trafficking. The sheikha and her relatives left the country and the investigation was still ongoing at the completion of this report.
In January 2009, the Brussels first instance court handed down four years imprisonment and a 22,000 euro ($28,600) fine to a Bulgarian member of a trafficking ring. Some of the victims applied for trafficking victim status. On January 26, 2009 the Antwerp district court convicted a lawyer to five years imprisonment and a 5,000 euro ($6,500) fine for raping an under aged girl and trafficking her from Morocco to Belgium. On December 17, 2008, the Ghent Appellate Court handed down three and four years prison sentences to two Chinese nationals for economic exploitation and trafficking. The court confiscated assets to the tune of 750,000 euro ($975,000). The victims were exploited by restaurants and were forced to work six days a week and 12 hours days. The judge also ruled that their housing conditions were inhumane. The victims successfully applied for trafficking victim status. In November 2008 the Ieper Chamber of Indictment ruled that 32 people would stand trial on smuggling and trafficking charges as members of a criminal organization specialized in arranging fake marriages for Indian and Pakistani men who were seeking to obtain permanent residence in Belgium. On November 26, 2008, the Antwerp Court of Assizes convicted six Iraqi nationals to prison sentences ranging from 3 to 25 years imprisonment for having taken hostage and tortured two Indian, nationals in order to obtain a ransom for smuggling the two to the United Kingdom. Defense lawyers argued that both defendants and plaintiffs were members of rivaling trafficking rings.
In rendering verdicts in economic exploitation cases the courts take into account such elements as the confiscation of passports, travel documents, pay, employment and housing conditions, the use of physical force, and sexual abuse.
-- F. The Justice Minister and the Board of Prosecutors General determine on prosecution priorities. Training on recognizing trafficked persons is well established in law enforcement agencies and procedures for dealing with trafficking cases are well known. The Justice Ministry and the Justice High Council organized special training for magistrates. The Foreign Ministry provided training for diplomats and the Federal police for its federal and local forces dealing with trafficking. In 2007 the Justice Ministry issued a directive for helping magistrates and police forces in detecting and prosecuting trafficking cases. In September 2008 the Interior, Justice, Employment, Foreign Affairs, Social Welfare and Finance ministries jointly issued a directive on coordinating aid to trafficking victims. The directive covered how to identify victims, what action has to
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be taken by the authorities and agencies dealing with trafficking, how victims have to be directed to shelters and administrative steps to be taken for the victims.
-- G. Belgium collaborates regularly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM, the United Nations and the Council of Europe). Belgium cooperates within the Schengen countries framework to combat visa fraud. Belgium has supported a preventive program for the Great Lakes Region of Africa sponsored by UNICEF. It has contributed to preventive OSCE and OIM programs in Georgia. It has contributed to UNFPA, UNICEF and OHCHR programs for the prevention of violence against women and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR). It has also contributed to an UNICEF program for combating the child trade in Western Africa.
-- H. Belgians and foreign nationals can be extradited under the European arrest warrant. The Belgian Parliament has adopted this European framework decision. Belgian has some 50 extradition treaties in force with other countries. Moreover, the Federal Police exchange information with Europol and Interpol, and countries with which Belgian has bilateral or multilateral cooperation agreements. The Federal Prosecutor acts as Belgium's contact with Eurojust. Belgium frequently sends rogatory commissions to foreign countries, and it has obtained the extradition of suspects to Belgium. According to the CEOCR, Belgian law enforcement encounters difficulties in obtaining cooperation from Bulgaria, a new EU member state. No trafficking offenders were extradited to the United States.
-- I. and J. There is no evidence of government involvement in or tolerance of trafficking.
-- K. Prostitution as such is not a criminal act, but organizing prostitution and forcing people to prostitute themselves are criminal offences. Prostitution under the age of 18 is always considered coercion or abuse of trust under the law, and sentenced accordingly. The law of November 2000 has reinforced protection of minors with regard to trafficking, prostitution and pornography. The Federal Police in 2006 registered 3,504 cases of sexual assault and rape involving minors, compared to 3,411 such cases in 2005. The Federal Police registered 310 child prostitutions cases in 2006, compared to 354 the previous year. Child prostitution cases on the internet can be reported to the police through www.ecops.be. The Justice Ministry registered 39 convictions in child prostitution cases in 2007, compared to 24 the previous year. Prostitution in bars is diminishing, while prostitution in massage parlors and through escort services is increasing. There is a significant increase of people prostituting themselves through the internet. Law enforcement agencies encounter great difficulties monitoring this form of prostitution. Several cities and towns have taken measures to curtail prostitution. Following the example of Brussels and Antwerp, in September 2008, the Liege city government closed 51 brothels, limiting prostitution to a few registered bars. On January 6, 2009, a Brussels judge handed down a four-year imprisonment sentence and a 22,000 euro ($28,600) fine to a Bulgarian national for pimping and trafficking.
-- L. There were no reports of Belgian troops contributing to international peacekeeping missions becoming involved in trafficking.
-- M. The Belgian authorities identify sex tourism and child pornography as a serious problem and specific legislation for combating these criminal acts has been adopted by the lawmakers. In 2000 and again in 2008 the Belgian Parliament adopted constitutional proviso on children's rights guaranteeing respect for moral, physical and sexual integrity
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of children. In 2005 the lawmakers amended the 1995 act on combating human trafficking and child pornography. New provisions were added to the criminal code enhancing the protection of minors, particularly with regard to trafficking, prostitution and pornography.
In 2007 the Federal Police handled 375 child pornography and sex tourism cases, up from the 197 handled in 2006. The federal Police in 2006 arrested a Belgian national who sexually abused his two daughters, and prostituted his daughters. An Italian national videotaed the violations and sold the tapes via the nternet. In total 35 children were abused, ad worldwide 2,500 internet clients were identifed.
26. (SBU) PROTECTION AND ASSISTANCE TO VCTIMS:
-- A. In 2006, Parliament enacted complete overhaul of the 1980 Immigration Act, bringing Belgian legislation in line with prevailing EU directives, such as the EU Directive 2004/81 on awarding residence to trafficking victims who opt to operate with the authorities. As a result, the prevailing Belgian protections system is now supported by law, and has been extended to certain categories of smuggling victims including unaccompanied minors, the vulnerable, the deceived, and the ill. The law covers nationals from outside and from within the European Union. Denial of victim status can be appealed through a special judicial college.
Victims have 45 days to decide what to do and can qualify for a renewable 3-month residence permit or a 6-month permit, depending on the state of the judicial investigation. In order to qualify for an extension, the victims have to break all links with the alleged perpetrators and collaborate in the investigation. The prosecutor must establish whether the person is a trafficking victims or a victims of a serious form of smuggling. Victims can eventually obtain permanent residence after the traffickers are sentenced or if the prosecutor files a trafficking case. Victims can file for damages.
On September 26, 2008 the government and the College of Prosecutors General issued a directive on multidisciplinary cooperation to deal with trafficking victims. The directive contains detailed guidelines on how the federal police, the social security and labor inspection services, the Immigration Office, the shelters and the magistrates must cooperate in locating victims and providing them with appropriate assistance so that they know how , including explaining the possibility of qualifying for victim protection and how to do so.
-- B. The Federal and regional governments fund three officially recognized shelters for victims: one in Brussels, one in Antwerp, and the third in Liege. These centers provide medical, psychological, administrative, assimilation, social, and judicial assistance. The shelters cater almost exclusively to foreign victims. Child victims enjoy the same rights and can also qualify for victim protection. Children have three months to decide and are immediately registered. If a child fails to qualify under trafficking protection legislation, he or she would still qualify for protection granted under the rules for unaccompanied minors illegally staying in Belgium. If the child is presumed to be a trafficking victim he or she is directed to one of the specialized centers operated by the regional governments. The government covers their education and medical expenses.
-- C. The government-sponsored shelters provide trafficking victims with access to legal, medical and psychological services. Judicial assistance is provided by the shelters in collaboration with the police and magistrates. Administrative assistance is provided in conjunction with the
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Immigration Office. Victims can either stay in safe houses operated by the shelters or opt for an individual dwelling. The shelters also provide psychological aid. The shelters are sponsored at the federal and regional level of government. Funding consists of direct subsidies and wages of collaborators paid by the authorities.
-- D. The September 2008 directive tasks the police, the social security and labor inspection services, the Immigration Office, and the Commissariat for refugees and Stateless persons with informing potential victims of their rights, and with directing them to shelters if they wish to apply for trafficking victim status. Depending on the legal proceedings, victims may qualify for temporary and permanent residence.
-- E. Victims qualify for housing, administrative, legal and psychological aid.
-- F. Law enforcement agencies systematically refer victims to shelters, even if the victim fails to identify himself as -- February 10) from the MFA DG for Strategic Affairs and Terrorism to the Dutch Ambassador to Spain, as a follow-up to the trilateral (Dutch, US Russian) delegation he led to the MFA on January 20 to formally notify
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GOS that The Hague will host the 2009 Plenary (See REFTEL E). The cove letter affirms that the GOS is firmly committed to combating nuclear and radiological terrorism and offers to the GONL Spanish insights gained from hosting G events last year.
//GOS Interest in Observing US Exercises//
7. (SBU) Torres mentioned he was aware that the DOE will be leading internal USG exercises on combating nuclear terrorism in 2009 and state that the GOS would be interested in attending these exercises as observers. COMMENT: Based on POLOFF's subsequent discussions with Washington-based contacts, it appears Torres was referring to the EMPIR 09 exercise, to be held in Albany, NY in April. END COMMENT.
//New GOS National GIIP Coordinator for technical issues//
8. (SBU) Torres later copied POLOFF on a February 19 email in which he notified USG personnel that the GOS had designated a new POC as Nationa Coordinator for the GIIP:
Mr. Angel Jose Baranda Diaz Jefe de Area Secretariat of State for Security Ministry of Interior Tel: 34-91-537-16-90 Fax: 34-91-537-19-87 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org CHACON