Last Updated: Friday, 19 December 2014, 13:25 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Paraguay

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Paraguay, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee54c.html [accessed 19 December 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.

Paraguay (Tier 2)

Paraguay is a source country for women and children subjected to sex trafficking, as well as a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor. Many Paraguayan trafficking victims are found in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Spain; smaller numbers of victims are exploited in Brazil. In one case last year, 32 Paraguayan women were identified in forced prostitution in the Spanish province of Cuenca and, in two other cases, over 50 Paraguayan women were rescued from forced prostitution in brothels in Argentina. Domestic servitude and sex trafficking of adults and children within the country remain a serious problem. Indigenous persons are particularly at risk of being subjected to forced labor or forced prostitution, and during the reporting period the local media highlighted cases of indigenous girls in prostitution at the behest of family members. Poor children from rural areas are subjected to forced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic servitude in urban centers such as Asuncion, Ciudad del Este, and Encarnacion, and a significant number of street children are trafficking victims. To a lesser extent foreign trafficking victims from Bolivia and Peru have been identified in situations of forced labor within Paraguay. Many undocumented migrants, some of whom could be trafficked, travel through the Tri-Border Area of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

The Government of Paraguay does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government sustained modest anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and significantly increased funding for victim services and awareness efforts during the year. However, the government did not convict any trafficking offenders during the reporting period. The current legal framework failed to adequately prohibit internal cases of forced labor or forced prostitution and authorities had no formal system to proactively identify trafficking victims.

Recommendations for Paraguay: Address deficiencies in anti-trafficking laws to prohibit forced labor and forced prostitution occurring within the country's borders; intensify efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, including forced labor crimes, as well as efforts to convict and punish trafficking offenders, including officials who are involved in or facilitate human trafficking; increase training for government officials, including law enforcement officials and judges, on how to identify and respond to trafficking cases; provide access to comprehensive assistance for victims of all forms of trafficking; and strengthen efforts to raise public awareness about human trafficking, particularly among those seeking work abroad.

Prosecution

The Paraguayan government's anti-trafficking law enforcement actions diminished during the past year, as no convictions of trafficking offenders were reported, despite a significant number of prosecutions. Paraguay's penal code does not sufficiently prohibit all forms of trafficking in persons. Articles 129(b) and (c) of the new penal code, which came into force in July 2009, prohibit transnational sex and labor trafficking that involve the use of force, threats, deception, or trickery, prescribing penalties up to 12 years' imprisonment. All of these prescribed penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Although Paraguayan law does not specifically prohibit internal trafficking, prosecutors could draw on exploitation of prostitution and kidnapping statutes, as well as other penal code provisions, to prosecute internal trafficking crimes, and reported doing so in a few cases during the year. During 2010, police anti-trafficking units in Asuncion, Puerto Elisa, Colonel Oviedo, Encarnacion, Caaguazu, and Ciudad del Este investigated 136 potential trafficking cases, conducted 17 raids on establishments suspected of trafficking, and arrested 32 suspected trafficking offenders.

The dedicated anti-trafficking unit in the Attorney General's Office had a total of two prosecutors and 10 assistants, and this unit worked with prosecutors at the local level to investigate and prosecute human trafficking cases. In 2010, Paraguayan prosecutors opened investigations into at least 107 possible trafficking cases, compared with 138 possible cases opened in 2009, almost all of which involved sex trafficking. Authorities indicted 38 suspected trafficking offenders but reported no convictions for human trafficking in 2010, as compared with two convictions for trafficking crimes under other statutes in 2009. During the past year, some government officials, including police, border guards, judges, and elected officials, reportedly facilitated trafficking crimes by accepting payments from trafficking offenders. Prosecutors investigated and charged a police officer and a public registry employee in separate cases of possible trafficking-related complicity in 2010; these cases had not gone to trial by the end of the reporting period. Paraguayan officials continued to work closely with foreign governments in their law enforcement efforts, cooperating with Argentine, Bolivian, Brazilian, Chilean, and Spanish authorities on trafficking investigations, some of which resulted in convictions of trafficking offenders in Chile and Argentina. In February 2011, the police adopted a new mandatory training manual containing material on human trafficking.

Protection

The Government of Paraguay increased efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the reporting period, but victim assistance remained inadequate. Authorities did not employ a formal system for proactively identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations such as prostituted women, domestic servants, or street children, and did not employ a formalized process for referring any such victims to care services. The Women's Secretariat (SMRP) ran one shelter for female trafficking victims in Asuncion that did not detain adult victims involuntarily. SMRP also funded other assistance programs, including three drop-in centers, for female victims of violence which could provide some short-term services, such as medical, psychological, and legal assistance. Anti-trafficking funds for SMRP increased almost five-fold during the reporting period to reach a total of approximately $110,000. In partnership with another government entity, the secretariat opened two businesses – a beauty shop and an agricultural plot – designed to provide trafficking victims with employment. The Paraguayan government did not offer shelter facilities for male victims. In 2010, the SMRP provided services to 27 trafficking victims in its shelter, 17 of whom were children, as well as to 11 trafficking victims who did not stay at the shelter. The interagency anti-trafficking roundtable reported identifying 80 international victims of trafficking, including six children. Government-funded care services for foreign and Paraguayan trafficking victims remained limited, however, especially outside of the capital, and most victim assistance is funded at least in part by NGOs and international donors. Paraguayan authorities encouraged victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, and some victims filed complaints to open investigations. Victims generally avoided the court system, however, due to social stigma, fear of retaliation, and the lengthy judicial process. Identified victims generally were not jailed, deported, or otherwise penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The Government of Paraguay could offer temporary or permanent residency status for foreign trafficking victims through its liberal immigration system, but did not report doing so in the past year.

Prevention

The Paraguayan government increased prevention activities during the reporting period. Government agencies and civil society participated in a government-run anti-trafficking roundtable, which consisted of five sub-committees. The roundtable began drafting comprehensive legislation as well as a national anti-trafficking plan in 2010. A separate plan to combat forced and child labor went into effect last year. In partnership with NGOs and an international bank, the government launched an anti-trafficking awareness campaign targeted at educating at-risk populations with radio and television ads in Spanish and Guarani. The SMRP continued to conduct regional workshops focused on improving the local government response to human trafficking, with a total of over 1,500 participants during the year. The government reported no efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor. The government issued little public reporting on its anti-trafficking activities but collaborated significantly with NGOs in addressing human trafficking issues. Paraguay was not a known destination for child sex tourists, though foreign citizens from neighboring countries are reported to engage in commercial sexual exploitation of children in Ciudad del Este. The government provided human rights training, which included a human trafficking component, to troops deployed on international peacekeeping missions.

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