U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Colombia
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||11 June 2003|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Colombia, 11 June 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d7bec.html [accessed 21 October 2014]|
Colombia (Tier 1)
Colombia is a major source of women and girls trafficked into prostitution. Victims are primarily sent to Europe, especially Spain and The Netherlands, as well as Japan. There also is internal trafficking in Colombia for prostitution and forced conscription in terrorist and guerrilla groups, often with children as victims.
The Government of Colombia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The widespread internal armed conflict, the existence of well-organized drug trafficking groups, and economic pressures combine to make Colombia one of the major source countries for trafficking victims in Latin America. However, despite these factors, the government continues to make serious and sustained efforts toward the elimination of trafficking in persons, both at home and abroad.
An interagency committee coordinates a variety of anti-trafficking prevention measures, including the creation of a hotline, public awareness campaigns, and improved coordination with Interpol. Police and immigration officials, with the help of NGOs, closely monitor airports and have prevented dozens of Colombians from being trafficked by identifying would-be victims and educating them on the dangers that lay ahead.
In 2002, improved anti-trafficking legislation broadened the definition of trafficking and toughened the penalties – almost doubling prison sentences and raising the maximum fine by a factor of 10. Colombia is one of the leading countries engaged in international law enforcement cooperation against trafficking. Police have conducted numerous international operations in coordination with other governments, particularly Spain, The Netherlands, and Japan, which have led to the rescue of hundreds of trafficking victims and over 100 arrests. For example, in November 2002, information provided by Colombian law enforcement authorities through Colombia's diplomatic mission in Tokyo led Japanese officials to arrest a major organized crime leader who had trafficked at least 400 Colombian women into Japan. Several Colombian collaborators in the trafficking ring were deported to Colombia, where they are under indictment and in custody. Domestically, police are proactive, attempting to break up trafficking rings before women are victimized. In the last 18 months, government authorities have arrested 44 persons on trafficking charges, indicted 30, and convicted 16. The government encourages victims to testify against traffickers, but the witness protection program is underfunded, and successful intimidation by traffickers has limited the number of successful prosecutions.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs assists Colombian victims abroad by providing basic services and facilitating repatriation. The government cooperates with a network of NGOs and IOM to provide support and assistance to victims once they return to Colombia. The government works with IOM to train diplomats and consular officials on how to assist victims. IOM also works closely with other governmental officials, training more than 500 officials last year on the implementation of the new trafficking law.