Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Ecuador
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons|
|Publication Date||4 June 2008|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Ecuador, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a1232.html [accessed 23 July 2014]|
ECUADOR (Tier 2)
Ecuador is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. The majority of trafficking victims are believed to be children trafficked from coastal and border areas to urban centers for sexual exploitation. Ecuadorian children are trafficked into hazardous forms of labor, domestic servitude, forced to beg on the streets, work in the hospitality and commercial sectors, and perform hard labor in mines. Some children are trafficked to neighboring countries and to European countries, including Spain and Italy. Women are trafficked to Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, and Western Europe, particularly Spain and Italy, for sexual exploitation. Although most trafficking occurs within the country, Colombian women and adolescent girls are trafficked into Ecuador for sexual exploitation.
The Government of Ecuador does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government continued to increase the number of convictions of sex traffickers and continued to cooperate closely with civil society organizations on anti-trafficking prevention and public awareness efforts. This year, the government designated a single point of contact within the Ministry of Government for trafficking issues. However, trafficking-related complicity of some government officials, particularly at the local level, remained a problem and an impediment to achieving greater anti-trafficking progress. The government also needs to take a greater interest in protecting adult and minor trafficking victims who may be held against their will in the country's brothels and forced into prostitution.
Recommendations for Ecuador: Continue to vigorously investigate and convict traffickers, including labor traffickers; train law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges to better identify, investigate, and prosecute trafficking cases; investigate and prosecute government officials complicit in trafficking activities; provide temporary resident visas for undocumented foreign trafficking victims; and increase raids on the brothels that house underage trafficking victims.
The government demonstrated clear progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. Ecuador prohibits all forms of trafficking through a 2005 comprehensive anti-trafficking law, which prescribes punishments of up to 35 years' imprisonment – penalties that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes. During the reporting period, Ecuadorian authorities opened approximately 76 cases across the country. Although none of the indictments have resulted in convictions thus far, prosecutors were able to complete prosecutions in five previously opened cases, which resulted in the conviction of 12 child sex traffickers. All were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 12 years in prison. Most of the cases involved the inducement of minor children into prostitution through fraudulent employment offers. During the reporting period, the government identified several more specialized trafficking prosecutors in Manabi province, bringing the total number of provinces with specialized prosecutors to five. During the year, there were no convictions obtained for the offense of trafficking adults for sexual exploitation or the trafficking of any persons for labor exploitation. The government provided numerous training opportunities for officials dealing with trafficking in persons, including border police, government prosecutors, and judges. Despite reports of trafficking-related corruption, particularly related to civil registry officials issuing false identity documents to Colombian adults and minors, no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of potentially complicit officials took place last year. According to Ecuadorian police, brothel owners commonly use false identity documents to exploit foreign minors and adults in prostitution, and to avoid criminal liability for immigration and trafficking violations in the event of a police raid.
The Ecuadorian government committed additional resources to assist victims of trafficking over the last year. Through its Victim and Witness Protection Program, the Public Ministry coordinates government efforts to provide funding and support to NGOs that serve trafficking victims, as well as coordinating the referral of victims to appropriate service providers. Domestic and foreign trafficking victims have access to legal, medical, and psychological services in victim care facilities, although there remains a lack of available shelters for trafficking victims in many areas of the country. During the reporting period, the government committed $260,000 to support shelters and victim assistance in the provinces of Pichincha, El Oro, and Sucumbios. In 2007, the government increased the number of police officers who work with the program from 36 to 88, resulting in several hundred trafficking victims helped throughout the year. The Public Ministry also assigned 20 female lawyers to work as program coordinators in 20 provinces. Through the Victim and Witness Protection Program, the government encourages victims to assist in the investigation of their traffickers. Law enforcement and social services personnel have a formal system of identifying victims of trafficking among high-risk persons with whom they come in contact. Authorities did not penalize trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. The Ecuadorian government does not, however, provide legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they face hardship or retribution, although authorities may award refugee status on an ad hoc basis.
The Government of Ecuador made significant trafficking prevention efforts over the last year, particularly in the area of public awareness. Senior government officials spoke publicly to raise awareness and understanding of the country's trafficking problems. The National Institute for Child and Family (INNFA) continued its nationwide anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling education campaign geared towards vulnerable populations, which included the distribution of postcards, stickers, and informational materials across the country. In January 2008, INNFA also launched a Plan to Eradicate Child Trafficking in the Andean Corridor for labor exploitation and begging. The Ministry of Tourism spent $36,000 on efforts to prevent commercial sex tourism during the reporting period. It also worked closely with UNICEF and numerous NGOs on a continuing campaign against child sex tourism, which began in 2006. The government, however, did not take other steps to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.