Oct 192014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/09/07DUBAI570.html
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07DUBAI570
2007-09-30 19:08
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Consulate Dubai

VZCZCXRO2664
PP RUEHDIR
DE RUEHDE #0570/01 2731908
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 301908Z SEP 07
FM AMCONSUL DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5678
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0003
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 0113
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 8815
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DUBAI 000570

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 9/30/2017
TAGS: PREL PHUM KCRM ELAB UN RP AE
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES TRAFFICKING CONCERNS IN DUBAI — ABUSED VISITOR VISAS

DUBAI 00000570 001.2 OF 002

CLASSIFIED BY: Paul Sutphin, CG, Executive, Department of State.

REASON: 1.4 (a), (d)

DEPARTMENT FOR G/TIP, INL, DRL, NEA/RA, AND NEA/ARP, L/DL

¶1. (C) Summary: In separate meetings with Philippine Labor
Attache Virginia Calvez (September 11), Acting Consul General
Maria Louella Duarte and Consular Officer Rafael Palencia, Jr.
(September 18), Pol/EconOff discussed trafficking in persons
concerns. While they claim that trafficking with labor visas is
limited, the UAE visitor visa process is reportedly wide-open to
abuse by traffickers and labor exploiters. Despite a relatively
low estimated number of Filipinas sex-trafficked into Dubai,
Consulate officials here are frustrated at the lack of
prosecutions of traffickers in both the Philippines and the UAE.
End Summary.

Type of visa matters

——————–

¶2. (SBU) According to Labor Attache Duarte, more stringent labor
contract review and tighter visa procedures by Manila have
effectively eliminated trafficking of Filipinos into the UAE on
labor visas. However, she cautioned, traffickers take advantage
of a relatively “lax” UAE visitor visa process and bring women
into the country on 60 day visit visas. Consular Officer
Palencia added his estimate that well over 500 Filipinos enter
the UAE on visitors visas daily (via 9 daily flights between
Manila and Dubai).

¶3. (C) Ridiculing the current UAE visitor visa, Palencia showed
Pol/EconOff photocopies of visas showing the applicant’s
occupation as “business person,” cynically noting that “every
visitor visa issued says occupation business person. How many
of these are really business people?” He said the UAEG is
notoriously lax in its visitor policy; applicants are not
required to appear for personal interviews or additional
background checks. (Comment: If true, this policy is an open
door to Filipinos job seekers without previously-arranged
contracts. End comment.) Renewals of visas after 60 days are
relatively easy to get. Applicants simply exit the country,
Kish Island, Iran is a common destination, and wait for their
new visa approval documents to be faxed to them. When the
“system” works, Filipinos (and others) can return to the UAE the
same day with a brand new 60 day visitors visa (when it does not
work, they end up stranded in Kish without the funds to return
to the Philippines or a visa to enter another country). When
queried as to whether a tightening of visa requirements by the
UAEG would serve as an effective deterrent to traffickers and
labor exploiters, Palencia nodded, but countered that the UAEG
has no incentive to revise a policy that generates substantial
governmental revenue (he estimated the UAEG issues 12,000 to
20,000 visit visas a day with fees starting at 750 AED [205 USD]
each). (Comment: Post has no data to confirm these numbers, but
does not find visas fee income a compelling reason for the
wealthy UAE to admit visitors who may overstay their welcome.
End comment.)

Low rate of trafficking repatriation

————————————

¶4. (C) Over the past two and a half years, Palencia’s office has
repatriated approximately fifty trafficked women with similar
experiences — poor rural girls approached by recruiters and
offered a “good” job and free airline ticket to Dubai.
Recruiters forward the women’s pictures and passport details to
Filipino contacts in Dubai who work with local travel agents to
secure the standard sixty day visit visa. Once approved, either
the travel agency or the Dubai contact fax a copy of the visa
approval to the applicant. With a passport, visa approval and
ticket in hand, the Philippine government does not restrict a
woman’s right to travel; nonetheless, Palencia expressed
frustration that every time his government considers restricting
travel rights of young women in order to prevent trafficking,
there is a strident public outcry about citizen’s rights to
travel anywhere they chose.

¶5. (SBU) Upon landing in Dubai, the girls are reportedly met by
“mama-sans”/”mother hens” (i.e., brothel owners) and transported
directly to their accommodations. There, their passports are
confiscated and they are finally told what their new “job” will
be. According to Palencia, the girls are informed that they owe
the organization 15,000 AED (roughly 4,090 USD) and that a
portion of their set “session fee” of 300 AED (approximately 82

DUBAI 00000570 002.2 OF 002

USD) will be applied towards paying down the “debt”. Once the
debt is eliminated, the girls are told, their passports will be
returned and they will be “released”.

¶6. (C) In an aside, Palencia suggested that approximately 80% of
the girls who are trafficked to Dubai are, in fact, aware that
they will be working as prostitutes. However, they apparently
aren’t aware that their passports will be withheld and that they
will, effectively, be held prisoner while working off an
unanticipated debt. When asked how many Filipinas are now
working in the sex industry in Dubai, Palencia estimated eighty
women.

Need to jail trafficking perpetrators

————————————-

¶7. (C) Expressing frustration over the lack of arrests and
prosecutions of traffickers both in the Philippines and the UAE,
Palencia complained that not only does the UAE Criminal
Investigation Department (CID) fail to take substantive action
against identified traffickers, but once back in the
Philippines, the trafficking victims refuse to cooperate with
authorities in identifying and prosecuting local recruiters.
Palencia’s primary complaint against the UAE CID is its apparent
lack of interest in pursing investigations of Dubai-based
brothel owners; he stated that Emirate officials seem to think
the case ends once the girl is returned to her country and they
do not “go after” the racketeers. He speculated “if just one
case” was brought to trial and sentenced, it would dissuade many
perpetrators from continuing in the trade.

New twist: re-trafficked to Kabul

———————————

¶8. (C) Acting Consul General Duarte added yet another twist to
the trafficking saga, noting that recently the Philippine
Ambassador to Islamabad (who also covers Afghanistan) has been
involved in a case involving women and men “trans-trafficked”
through Dubai onto Kabul. Apparently, once trafficked to Dubai,
the victims had been shipped onward to Afghanistan, where they
have little hope of escaping an unanticipated and difficult
plight. She asked if the USG has additional information on this
new phenomenon.

Comment

——-

9 (C) While Dubai prides itself as a tourist destination and a
relaxed bastion in a relatively conservative region, we should
encourage the UAE to review any visitor visa regulations that
might be exploited by traffickers. We don’t want to dissuade
legitimate tourism, yet a more cautious visitor visa policy
(especially as it applies to low-income, developing country
nationals) might act as a deterrent to trafficking in persons
and illegal labor recruitment. We will raise this issue with
contacts in the UAE Anti-TIP committee. End comment.
SUTPHIN

   

 

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