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

U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Colombia

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 3 June 2005
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Colombia, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d83928.html [accessed 21 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.

Colombia (Tier 1)

Colombia is a major source and transit country for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The Colombian Government estimates that 45,000-50,000 Colombian nationals engage in prostitution overseas; many of them are trafficking victims. Most traffickers are linked to narcotics trafficking or other criminal organizations; trafficking operations include both Colombians and criminals from countries of destination. Young Colombian women and girls are principally trafficked to Spain, Japan, Hong Kong, Panama, Chile, and Ecuador. Some Colombian men are trafficked for forced labor. Internal trafficking of women and children for sexual exploitation from rural to urban areas remains a serious problem. Insurgent and paramilitary groups have forcibly conscripted and exploited as many as 14,000 children in Colombia and from bordering areas of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Panama. Victims transit Colombia from other South American countries, on their way to Europe and the United States.

The Government of Colombia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Although the Government of Colombia did not provide full data on investigations, prosecutions, convictions, and sentences, the Secretary of State has determined that it has made a good faith effort to do so. The government continues to show political will to address one of the largest national outflows of trafficking victims in the Western Hemisphere. Although courts reported no convictions of traffickers in 2004, the Colombian Government investigated and prosecuted numerous cases, improved laws, and coordinated government agency efforts to target traffickers. The government should move to increase trafficking prosecutions and improve its ability to centrally monitor and collect data on the status of cases brought against traffickers.

Prosecution

Colombia's comprehensive anti-trafficking law makes adequate provision to punish traffickers and the government continued to work with other countries to disrupt trafficking networks. Although Colombian courts convicted no traffickers in 2004, Colombian law enforcement initiated 20 new cases during the reporting period and captured a Spanish trafficker who was returned to Spain for prosecution. Authorities prosecuted at least 16 cases. Most of the more than 300 cases pending from previous years remained in various stages of investigation. The government made significant efforts to work additional trafficking investigations with Spain, Japan, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Panama. Amendments to the trafficking law increased penalties to 13 to 23 years in prison, with even higher penalties for aggravated circumstances or in cases with victims under 12 years of age. Late in 2004, the government created a unit in the Prosecutor General's Office dedicated entirely to the investigation and prosecution of crimes related to trafficking in persons.

Protection

The government made a good faith effort to assist Colombians trafficked abroad and child victims at home. Colombian missions abroad referred nine cases to IOM for repatriation assistance. Colombian missions in some countries with large Colombian expatriate communities – such as Japan – worked aggressively to assist trafficking victims and referred repatriated victims to IOM and NGOs for assistance. Victims frequently faced intimidation and threats of reprisal from traffickers. In the face of such threats and inadequate witness protection programs, many victims chose not to assist in prosecutions. The government's Institute of Family Welfare supported programs for some child victims of internal trafficking for sexual exploitation and former child soldiers that provided counseling, educational information, and social support, but resources available proved insufficient to keep pace with the demand for services.

Prevention

The government's interagency committee led strong national prevention efforts by preparing information campaigns, promoting training, and coordinating information exchange. Immigration officials worked with NGOs at airports to identify and warn potential outbound trafficking victims. The government also made efforts to involve businesses, particularly in the travel industry, in the fight against trafficking. Government entities relied heavily on NGOs and international organizations to educate officials and the public about trafficking.

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