Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November 2014, 14:08 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Argentina

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Argentina, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c18840dc.html [accessed 26 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

ARGENTINA (Tier 2)

Argentina is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution and forced labor. Many victims from rural areas or northern provinces are forced into prostitution in urban centers or wealthy provinces in central and southern Argentina. The tri-border area with Paraguay and Brazil is a significant source area for Argentine sex trafficking victims, as well as a transit region for labor trafficking victims from Paraguay. A significant number of foreign women and children, primarily from Paraguay, Brazil, Peru, and the Dominican Republic, are forced into prostitution in Argentina. Bolivians, Paraguayans, and Peruvians, as well as Colombians and Dominicans, are subjected to forced labor in sweatshops, on farms, and increasingly in grocery stores and as street vendors. Child sex tourism is a problem, particularly in the tri-border area and in Buenos Aires. Argentina is a transit point for foreign women and girls trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation in Chile, Brazil, Mexico, and Western Europe, and some Argentine women and girls are found in forced prostitution in Western Europe. Argentina's long borders are difficult to monitor, making the country a transit area for traffickers and their victims.

The Government of Argentina does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the past year, the Government of Argentina achieved its first convictions under the 2008 anti-trafficking law and improved government mechanisms for identifying and caring for trafficking victims. However, while numerous trafficking cases are currently in progress, the overall number of convictions was low in comparison with the number of victims identified, shelters remained inadequate, and alleged complicity of government officials with traffickers prevented more comprehensive anti-trafficking efforts.

Recommendations for Argentina: Vigorously implement the new anti-trafficking law; ensure that trafficking prosecutions are not dismissed on the basis of victims' consent; intensify law enforcement efforts to dismantle trafficking networks; increase judicial and prosecutorial efforts to investigate, prosecute, convict, and punish trafficking offenders, including corrupt public officials who may be complicit in trafficking crimes; increase investigations of forced labor and involuntary domestic servitude crimes; dedicate more resources for victim assistance, particularly shelters; enhance victim protections; and increase anti-trafficking training for law enforcement, judges, and other public officials.

Prosecution

The Government of Argentina increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts last year. Argentina prohibits all forms of trafficking pursuant to Law 26,364, enacted in April 2008, which prescribes penalties of three to 15 years' imprisonment. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and exceed those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. According to Argentine law, all suspects charged with crimes that have a minimum penalty of three years are eligible to post bail. Authorities indicted 90 individuals in 54 trafficking cases. During the reporting period, the government obtained three convictions of sex trafficking offenders, with one sentence for four years, another for 10 years, and one trafficking offender under house arrest after receiving a four-year sentence. A federal court in Buenos Aires province ruled that trafficking victims cannot provide consent when their social or economic background limits free choice. NGOs report that during legal proceedings, victims are sometimes asked if they initially consented to engage in certain activities, such as prostitution, and affirmative answers were sometimes considered proof that the victim was not trafficked.

According to NGOs and international organizations, some provincial and local law enforcement officers are complicit in human trafficking crimes. Some police officers reportedly turn a blind eye to trafficking activity or tip off brothel owners about impending raids. The government did not convict any government officials involved in human trafficking last year, although there were several ongoing investigations into suspected police complicity in commercial sexual exploitation cases. In addition to the central government's anti-trafficking prosecutor's office, at least 10 provinces have created their own specialized law enforcement units to investigate trafficking. Argentine authorities worked with foreign governments to investigate several trafficking cases. The prosecutor general approved a standardized protocol for investigation of sex trafficking cases and guidelines for identifying, interviewing, and assisting victims. Authorities trained over 4,000 judicial officials and law enforcement officers on victim identification and care; however, there is a need for further training for officials on how to investigate and prosecute trafficking crimes.

Protection

The government assisted trafficking victims during the reporting period, though international organizations and NGOs provided most specialized victim services. In response to a rising number of Dominican trafficking victims, in 2009, Argentine authorities established an airport interview process to identify trafficking victims among Dominican citizens attempting to enter the country. The National Migration Agency increased its inspections of migrants' living and working conditions in Buenos Aires more than tenfold. The federal government did not operate shelters dedicated solely to trafficking victims, but provided modest funding to some domestic violence shelters at the local level. The majority of trafficking victims were referred to government-operated public shelters, such as domestic violence shelters, or shelters run by local NGOs or religious orders: in some cases, authorities placed victims in hotels or safe houses. There is only one shelter dedicated solely to trafficking victims in Argentina, and it is run by an NGO. Many shelters were oversubscribed, and the quality and level of victim care varied widely by province. The government did not provide specialized care for adult male victims. After transferring the Office for Rescue and Caring of Victims of Trafficking from the Ministry of the Interior to the Ministry of Justice in 2009, psychologists, social workers, and policy experts were included in law enforcement efforts involving the identification of victims. During the reporting period, the government conducted 254 raids on suspected commercial sex sites and sweatshops and rescued 421 trafficking victims: over three-quarters of these victims were adults. The Office for Rescue and Caring of Victims of Trafficking provided initial post-rescue care, including access to legal, medical, and psychological services. The governments of Salta and Chaco provinces maintained their own victim care offices. Foreign victims had the same access to care services as Argentine victims. Argentine authorities encouraged victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers; however, some officials reported deficiencies in witness protection provided to victims. There were no specific reports of victims being jailed or penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Trafficking victims may petition the Argentine government for temporary residency on humanitarian grounds, and citizens of Mercosur member or associate states can obtain temporary residency in Argentina under Argentine immigration law, though it was not clear how many victims, if any, received such temporary residency. The government did not report identifying or assisting any repatriated Argentine victims of trafficking abroad.

Prevention

The government sustained its prevention activities. Several provincial governments organized anti-trafficking campaigns, and used films, leaflets, and workshops in schools to raise public awareness. The City of Buenos Aires passed a law designating a "Week for the Fight Against Trafficking." The government increased its ability to monitor the trafficking situation through enhanced data collection and research efforts. Argentine penal code does not specifically prohibit child sex tourism and the government did not prosecute any child sex tourists. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, the Prosecutor General signed a resolution instructing federal prosecutors to seek the closure of all brothels NGOs reported, however, that brothels are generally tipped off by local police in advance of raids and that the resolution will have little effect unless something is done to address police complicity. The government provided anti-trafficking training to Argentine troops prior to their deployment on international peacekeeping operations.

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