U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Guatemala
|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 - Guatemala, 3 June 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d84523.html [accessed 20 December 2014]|
Guatemala (Tier 2)
Guatemala is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children from Guatemala and other Central American countries trafficked internally and to the United States for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. Estimates of the total number of victims are difficult to assess; however, the Government of Guatemala acknowledges that trafficking is a significant and growing problem in the country as well as in the region. Past estimates by reliable sources cite large numbers of minors engaged in underage prostitution (2,000 in Guatemala City alone) throughout the country, with particular concern in the border area between Guatemala and Mexico. There are also anecdotal reports of forced labor trafficking in the country involving children used in begging rings in Guatemala City. Guatemala is a significant transit country for illegal migration, and many of these individuals may be trafficking victims.
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. Over the reporting period, Guatemala has stepped up its efforts to rescue minors from commercial sexual exploitation in bars, brothels, and other establishments where traffickers are known to operate. On February 22, 2004, the Governments of Guatemala and Mexico formally initiated implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) they signed last year to address the cross-border trafficking issues that currently plague that region. Efforts should be increased to rescue minors that are trafficked for sexual exploitation along the border region and also to prevent such minors from being trafficked into other countries where Guatemalan minors are being found, including Mexico, Belize, and El Salvador.
The Government of Guatemala has mobilized prosecutors and police to implement a new aggressive policy to arrest and prosecute traffickers. Both the National Civilian Police (PNC) and the Attorney General's Office have set up specialized units aimed at combating trafficking throughout the country. Guatemalan authorities, assisted by an NGO, have conducted hundreds of raids of bars, brothels, and other establishments where traffickers are known to be operating. The raids have resulted in 40 arrests and six convictions, an increase in overall law enforcement action seen in the previous reporting period. Additionally, the Guatemalan Congress recently passed legislation that improves the legal framework in the country to increase penalties for traffickers. While progress clearly has been made, long-term sustainable steps should be undertaken to arrest and prosecute traffickers under the new law. Strong efforts should also be taken to fight trafficking-related corruption, including instances of law enforcement officials facilitating cross-border movement and reports of law enforcement officials patronizing brothels. Cross-border cooperation with Belize and Mexico to investigate and arrest traffickers should also be improved.
The government continued to refer identified child trafficking victims to NGO shelters and such efforts were expanded during the reporting period. The Secretariat of Social Welfare currently runs one temporary shelter and pledged last year to open a new one in Coatepeque in San Marcos province. Efforts should be made to open this shelter quickly so victims may be assisted. The government still struggles to identify and assist adult trafficking victims, hampering its ability to complete criminal investigations of traffickers. It remains the case that all undocumented foreigners, including trafficking victims, are subject to deportation and given 72 hours to depart; the reality, though, is that many stay in Guatemala. Resource constraints have hampered the Government of Guatemala's ability to assist and repatriate individuals deported from Mexico, many of whom are not Guatemalan, and may be trafficking victims.
The Government of Guatemala continues to struggle (due in large part to lack of resources) to conduct a long-term sustainable prevention campaign. However, the government has undertaken some limited campaigns aimed at warning individuals of the risks of trafficking. Serious and sustainable efforts should be undertaken to implement the MOU signed with Mexico to work on the broad multitude of trafficking problems along the joint border.