Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September 2014, 13:54 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mexico

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 5 June 2006
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Mexico, 5 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4680d89f3f.html [accessed 23 September 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.

Mexico (Tier 2 Watch List)

Mexico is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and labor. The vast majority of trafficking in the country involves Central Americans who are trafficked along Mexico's southern border. Trafficking to Mexico also occurs from South America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. Women and children are trafficked from Mexico's poorest rural regions to urban centers and tourist areas for sexual exploitation, often through fraudulent offers of employment or through threats of physical violence. Child sex tourism in Mexico remains a problem, mainly in the border and tourist areas. Women are also trafficked into Mexico's sex trade as well as trafficked via Mexico into the United States' illegal sex trade under false pretenses by organized criminal networks. The Mexican trafficking problem is often conflated with alien smuggling, although frequently the same criminal networks are involved. Pervasive corruption among state and local law enforcement often impedes investigations.

The Government of Mexico does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Government of Mexico remains on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year based on future commitments of the government to undertake additional efforts in prosecution, protection, and prevention of trafficking in persons. Further, the placement is due to the failure of the government to provide critical law enforcement data. Even though there were some key deficiencies in the government's efforts over the reporting period, some progress was made, and implementation will be important over the coming year. The Mexican Senate unanimously passed comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; the Chamber of Deputies has yet to vote on the bill. Nonetheless, the Inter-institutional Working Group on Trafficking is now under the control of the Preventive Federal Police (PFP) which will dedicate 140 agents to investigating trafficking cases and it will create a database to track future cases. While Mexico does not yet have a national action plan, the Inter-institutional Working Group has established six target cities for joint investigative and victim relief operations. Mexico has established a cooperative framework with NGOs working on victim protection, and is working on its own and with NGOs on public awareness campaigns against trafficking.

Prosecution

The Government of Mexico did not keep law enforcement statistics on trafficking investigations, arrests, prosecutions, or convictions over the reporting period, in part because it does not have a trafficking specific law and many of the cases are prosecuted under other laws. It is likely that states and other local jurisdictions have some trafficking-related prosecutions and convictions, but it is difficult to keep statistics on those types of cases. Thus, it is unknown whether Mexico made progress in this area, which is critical to its evaluation. However, from January 2005- August 2005 law enforcement authorities reported criminal proceedings for trafficking-related offenses in 1,336 cases (57 federal and 1,279 state) and imposed sentences in 531 cases. The government's information was difficult to analyze, and the number of these cases that involve trafficking in persons is not clear. Two of the reported convictions were clearly for offenses that are trafficking-related. Mexican authorities provided details on a series of eight ongoing investigations that were also clearly trafficking-related; Mexican authorities have identified 126 gangs involved in trafficking.

Prostitution is essentially legal in Mexico, and pimping and prostitution are widely practiced without arrest or prosecution. Although Mexico lacks comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, it has a number of related laws that may be used against trafficking-related crimes, including laws against organized crime, corruption of minors, and forced prostitution. Mexico's constitution prohibits slavery. Varying state-level laws also prohibit and provide criminal punishment for trafficking-related crimes. The Mexican government has cooperated with the U.S. on a number of trafficking cases, some involving prosecutions in both countries. The Mexican government has both requested extradition of persons accused of trafficking-related offenses and surrendered such criminals requested for extradition by other countries, including the U.S. Corruption remains endemic among Mexican security personnel. Through "Operation Secure Mexico" and other initiatives, federal authorities have sought to help local municipalities remove corrupt police officials, including over half the police in Nuevo Laredo. However, the arrest of a journalist in Puebla this year for reporting on official collusion with traffickers (she was quickly released) demonstrated that corruption of law enforcement and judicial and political figures presents a major obstacle to improved anti-trafficking efforts.

Protection

Victim protection provided by the Mexican government over the last year improved, due to new facilities, training and cooperation with NGOs, but remained inadequate. There are no shelters or related services that specifically aid trafficking victims, but the government's social welfare agency (DIF) operates shelters that assist trafficking victims along with other victims of violence. A new migrant facility opened in Chiapas in March 2006 provides office space for Central American officials to expand assistance to their nationals who may be victims of trafficking. In 2005, DIF rescued and sheltered over 270 children engaged in commercial sexual exploitation.

Additionally, the government has increased efforts to work with NGOs and international organizations for the protection of trafficking victims, including working with IOM. Since June 2005, six NGOs and international organizations have offered training to governmental organizations to build capacity in victim services. Mexico's immigration authority (INM) issued a directive last year permitting trafficking victims to reside in Mexico as long as they agree to cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; already at least four victims have taken advantage of the program. There is no formalized mechanism or protocol to refer victims of trafficking to NGOs for care once the victims have been identified. Law enforcement and migration officials from Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize met to establish mechanisms to combat a range of mutual concerns including trafficking.

Prevention

High-level government officials, including the First Lady of Mexico, the Secretary of Government, and the Foreign Secretary have stressed the need to fight trafficking. The vast majority of Mexico's prevention efforts are through its social welfare agency (DIF), which runs public awareness campaigns throughout the country, concentrating in cities considered most vulnerable to trafficking. DIF is also working with NGOs and international organizations to prevent the growing sex tourism problem in Mexico. The government recently began working with IOM on trafficking-related matters on its southern border. Other NGOs and human rights organizations are working with the government on future prevention campaigns. In August 2005, Mexico hosted an Anti-Trafficking Workshop for the media and entertainment industry in Mexico.

In March 2006, Mexico hosted the Inter-American Network of Parliamentarian Women's Conference on Trafficking in Persons and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors. Some NGOs have been granted limited permission to enter detention facilities to interview possible trafficking victims, although access remains a problem.

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