Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 14:07 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Guatemala

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 14 June 2004
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Guatemala, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
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.

Guatemala (Tier 2 Watch List)

Guatemala is a source, transit, and destination country for Guatemalan and other Central American women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation inside Guatemala and to the United States. Estimates of the total number of victims are not available, but one reliable NGO report identified 600-700 minors in centers of prostitution across Guatemala. A 2002 report by the UN Rapporteur estimated 2,000 minors in prostitution in Guatemala City alone. Trafficking for sexual exploitation also occurs across the Mexican-Guatemalan border. Mexico deported 81,000 Guatemalans in 2003; it is unknown how many may have been trafficking victims. To a lesser extent, there are reports (but no reliable estimates) of forced labor trafficking, mainly involving children used in begging rings in Guatemala City. Guatemala is also a transit country for illegal migrants from outside the region, such as Chinese; some may be trafficked.

The Government of Guatemala does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. For much of 2003, the government's anti-trafficking efforts were stagnant with almost no law enforcement efforts against traffickers. In a significant policy reversal in early 2004, the new Guatemalan administration has begun to address human trafficking in a coordinated approach, organizing police and prosecution units, conducting raids, and formulating a national strategy. The government signed an important new agreement on anti-trafficking border cooperation with Mexico. Because this assessment is based on the government's new commitments to fight trafficking at all levels over the next year, including prosecuting traffickers and addressing corruption, Guatemala is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.


After a long period of inaction, Guatemala authorities have recently mobilized prosecutors and police in a new aggressive policy to arrest and prosecute traffickers. In March 2004, the police conducted a number of brothel raids and arrested several suspected traffickers. At least four accused traffickers are awaiting prosecution. In a positive sign, authorities have begun to work with leading NGOs to identify child victims in underage prostitution. The government supports proposed legislation in Congress to stiffen sanctions against traffickers and better define trafficking-related crimes. These are all important steps forward, but the new administration needs to show a long-term commitment to arresting and prosecuting traffickers as well as fighting corruption that makes trafficking possible.


The new administration has committed to putting new energy into protection efforts that had stagnated in 2003. The government works with NGOs to identify child victims and move them to shelters; these efforts are expanding as part of Guatemala's new pledge to find victims. The Secretariat of Social Welfare currently runs one temporary shelter and has pledged to open a new one in Coatepeque in San Marcos province. The government needs to improve its efforts to protect adult victims and work with them in criminal investigations. Currently, all undocumented for-eigners, including trafficking victims, are subject to deportation and given 72 hours to depart, but many stay in Guatemala.


The new administration has pledged to give new direction to the government's interagency anti-trafficking group. Both the Secretariat for Social Communication and Immigration Service have announced plans for a public awareness campaign in 2004. A key test of the government's over-all engagement will be Guatemala's implementation of the March 2004 agreement with Mexico to work closely on a range of trafficking problems on the joint border. Another important task will be to make progress on the national plan to fight commercial sexual exploitation of children.

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