Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Chile

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Chile, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee8bc.html [accessed 31 July 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.

Chile (Tier 2)

Chile is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Within the country, many victims are Chilean women and girls who respond to false job offers and subsequently are subjected to sex trafficking. To a limited extent, Chilean women and girls also are subjected to sex trafficking in neighboring countries such as Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia, as well as Spain. Women and girls from Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay, and other Latin American countries are lured to Chile by fraudulent job offers and subsequently coerced into prostitution or forced domestic service. Foreign victims of labor trafficking, primarily from Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and China, have been identified in Chile's mining and agricultural sectors. There are reports that children are recruited against their will as drug mules along the borders with Bolivia and Peru.

The Government of Chile does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, Chilean authorities increased their overall law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking offenses. Chilean law enforcement efforts shifted compared to the previous reporting period; the number of investigations and convictions for promoting or facilitating child prostitution increased, while the number of investigations and convictions for transnational sex trafficking decreased. In a notable sign of progress, in March 2011 the Chilean congress passed comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation that had been pending in the Senate since 2007. However, Chilean officials did not proactively investigate labor trafficking during the reporting period. The government offered limited services to adult sex trafficking victims and victims of labor trafficking, but increased specialized services for children exploited in commercial sex.

Recommendations for Chile: Implement new comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; intensify efforts to investigate and prosecute all forms of human trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders; proactively investigate possible cases of forced labor; train police officers, immigration officials, social workers, and judicial officials on the new law and on how to identify and respond to cases of labor trafficking and internal sex trafficking of adults; strengthen victim protection efforts, particularly for adult victims of forced prostitution and for forced labor victims, and ensure victim access to shelters and comprehensive services through increased funding and referral protocols; enhance interagency coordination mechanisms; consider creating a national strategy or plan to combat trafficking; and increase public awareness about all forms of human trafficking.

Prosecution

The Government of Chile increased law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking offenders during the reporting period and passed a new comprehensive anti-trafficking law in March 2011. This law prohibits all forms of human trafficking, as well as human smuggling. The law prescribes penalties ranging from five years and a day to 15 years of imprisonment for trafficking offenses, penalties which are raised to a minimum of 10 years and a day if the victim is a child. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as rape. The new law also authorizes the use of undercover agents and other enhanced investigative tools in human trafficking cases. Prior to this, Chilean law did not prohibit all forms of human trafficking, though it criminalized transnational movement of persons for purposes of prostitution under Article 367 of its penal code. Penalties prescribed under this statute ranged from three to 20 years of imprisonment, depending on whether aggravated circumstances existed. The increase in the minimum sentence for human trafficking, as established in the new law, is significant because sentences of less than five years are often suspended in Chile, and individuals convicted of trafficking under Article 367 often did not serve jail time for their offenses. In cases of internal trafficking of children for prostitution, prosecutors can use sections of Article 361 of the penal code which address sexual crimes against children and prescribe penalties ranging from 10 to 20 years.

During the reporting period, the government opened 128 trafficking-related investigations – 112 for promoting or facilitating child prostitution, and 16 for cross-border sex trafficking. Chilean courts obtained 39 convictions in 2010, of which 38 involved promoting or facilitating child prostitution, and one which involved cross-border sex trafficking. Sentences ranged from 541 days to six years' imprisonment. In comparison, Chilean authorities achieved 34 convictions during the previous year, eight for promoting or facilitating prostitution of children, and 26 for cross-border sex trafficking.

During the reporting period, the government sentenced four police officers for obtaining sexual services from persons between the ages of 14 and 18; one officer was sentenced to three years' time while the other three officers received sentences of 541 days each and were given immediate parole. Chilean authorities conducted joint trafficking investigations with the governments of Paraguay, Colombia, Peru, and Spain. Specialized training on trafficking was limited, but in partnership with an international organization, Chilean officials sponsored training workshops on identifying and preventing trafficking for 172 officials across the country. The Chilean public prosecutor's office provided training on human trafficking to 250 prosecutors in Uruguay, Panama, and Guatemala.

Protection

The Chilean government delivered comprehensive victim services to child sex trafficking victims, but provided limited services to adult sex trafficking victims and victims of forced labor. The government did not employ a formal system to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as migrant workers or women in prostitution, but some government-funded staff working with sexually-exploited youth received training to become trainers on victim identification. No comprehensive data was available regarding the number of trafficking victims identified in Chile during the reporting period. However, authorities reported assisting seven child trafficking victims in 2010, and an international organization assisted 11 victims from Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Kenya, three of whom were male. The National Service for Minors (SENAME) provided services to child victims of sex trafficking through its national network of 16 walk-in centers for children subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. SENAME had a budget of $2.5 million in 2010 for these NGO-administered centers, which collectively had a capacity to serve 800 children, an increase from the capacity to serve 700 children reported during the previous year. SENAME also funded one residential shelter exclusively for child sex trafficking victims and provided child trafficking victims with legal services. Adult sex trafficking victims generally were referred to NGOs and international organizations, who also aided foreign victims with voluntary repatriation. The government did not operate any specialized shelters for adult trafficking victims. According to NGOs, it is difficult for adult female victims of trafficking to access services at one of 25 government-run domestic violence shelters. Authorities provided psychological and medical assistance to adult sex trafficking victims for cases under prosecution. As forced labor was not a crime in Chile until March 2011, there were no specialized services available to labor trafficking victims during the reporting period.

Chilean authorities encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. The new comprehensive law includes provision of medical care, psychological counseling, and witness protection services to adult victims of trafficking who assist in trafficking investigations; no victims have yet received services under the new law's provisions. The new law formalizes victims' rights to request temporary residency for a minimum six-month period while they decide whether to participate in judicial proceedings. The law also establishes foreign victims' rights to take steps toward regularizing their legal status in Chile. Chilean authorities reported issuing humanitarian visas to foreign sex trafficking victims who wished to participate in the investigation of their traffickers during the year.

Prevention

The government sustained prevention efforts during the reporting period by continuing anti-trafficking education and outreach campaigns. Almost all of these efforts focused on the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In 2010, SENAME formed a working group on sexual exploitation of children which met nine times during the year. The separate Interagency Working Group on Trafficking in Persons did not meet in 2010. Transparency in the government's anti-trafficking efforts measures was limited; it reported trafficking prosecutions on government websites, but did not publish assessments of its own anti-trafficking policies or efforts during the year. SENAME continued to raise awareness about child prostitution through its "There is No Excuse" campaign, expanding efforts to the hotel sector. Immigration documents for travelers arriving in Chile include information about the penalties for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The government forged partnerships with NGOs, international organizations, and foreign governments in implementing these prevention efforts. The government gave mandatory anti-trafficking and human rights training to Chilean troops prior to their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping missions. In an effort to reduce the demand for commercial sex, courts prosecuted individuals for soliciting sexual services from children. No specific efforts to reduce demand for forced labor were reported.

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