Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September 2014, 13:28 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Peru

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Peru, 27 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e12ee534b.html [accessed 19 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.

Peru (Tier 2)

Peru is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Several thousand persons are estimated to be subjected to conditions of forced labor within Peru, mainly in mining, logging, agriculture, brick making, and domestic service. Peruvian women and girls are recruited and coerced into prostitution in nightclubs, bars, and brothels in Peru's urban areas and mining centers, often through false employment offers or promises of education. The Madre de Dios province, as well as the cities of Cuzco and Lima, were identified as some of the main destinations for Peruvian sex trafficking victims. Indigenous persons are particularly vulnerable to debt bondage. Forced child labor remains a problem, particularly in informal gold mines, among begging rings in urban areas, and in cocaine production and transportation. There are reports that the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, recruited children to serve as combatants and in the illicit narcotics trade. There were also reports that a smaller number of adolescents were serving in the Peruvian Armed Forces: however, while there were 150 complaints to the Human Rights Ombudsman about underage soldiers, authorities reported only 20 such complaints made in 2010. Most trafficking is carried out internally, but Peruvian women are also, to a lesser extent, subjected to forced prostitution in Ecuador, Spain, Italy, Japan, and the United States, and forced labor in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and Brazil. Peru also is a destination country for some Ecuadorian, Bolivian, and Chinese women and girls subjected to sex trafficking, and some Bolivian nationals in conditions of forced labor. Child sex tourism is present in areas such as Cuzco and Lima. Traffickers reportedly operate with impunity in certain regions where there is little or no government presence.

The Government of Peru does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Authorities sustained law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking and maintained strong public awareness efforts, including launching the first national anti-trafficking campaign. However, the government again failed to make sufficient efforts to address the high incidence of forced labor in the country and has never reported successfully prosecuting a forced labor offense. Furthermore, authorities did not provide adequate victim services for victims of all forms of trafficking, and a draft national plan to combat trafficking created in 2006 has yet to be formalized.

Recommendations for Peru: Vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, especially for forced labor crimes, including corrupt officials who may facilitate trafficking activity; initiate proactive investigations of forced labor crimes through enhanced partnerships between law enforcement officials and labor officials; fund shelters and specialized services for all victims of trafficking or fund NGOs with capacity to provide these services; create and implement formal mechanisms to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; offer enhanced anti-trafficking training for local prosecutors, judges, social workers, and law enforcement personnel; increase funding for specialized anti-trafficking police and prosecutorial units; enact and implement the draft national plan to combat trafficking; and continue to strengthen local government efforts to combat trafficking and to raise public awareness on all forms of human trafficking.

Prosecution

The Government of Peru continued to combat forced prostitution through law enforcement measures last year but again demonstrated weak efforts to investigate and prosecute forced labor offenses. Law 28950 of 2007 prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, prescribing penalties of eight to 25 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. However, NGOs reported that law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, and judges often opt to classify human trafficking cases as less serious criminal offenses that prescribe lower penalties. During the reporting period, police investigated 83 potential trafficking cases; of these, two involved forced labor, and 25 involved sex trafficking. Authorities brought forth 18 trafficking cases to the judiciary and secured the convictions of 12 sex trafficking offenders, who received sentences of up to 30 years' imprisonment, in addition to fines. Authorities did not report how many sentences were suspended. In comparison, Peruvian authorities prosecuted 78 cases and convicted nine sex trafficking offenders the previous year. For the fifth consecutive year, there were very few prosecutions and no convictions reported for forced labor offenses, despite an estimated high incidence of forced labor in the country, and previous efforts to proactively investigate forced labor at mining sites in the Amazon were discontinued.

The government's dedicated anti-trafficking police unit consisted of 32 officers and was based in the capital. Police maintained and expanded the use of an electronic case tracking system for human trafficking investigations, although this system did not track judicial activity, such as prosecutions and convictions. Furthermore, NGOs reported that the system is not always used efficiently, as police in some areas do not enter investigations into the system in a timely fashion or at all. Prosecutors are supposed to accompany police on raids on brothels and other locations where trafficking is suspected; NGOs reported that sometimes poor coordination led to delayed action.

The government did not provide data on its investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of government employees complicit in human trafficking. Corruption among low-level officials enabled trafficking in certain instances, and individual police officers tolerated the operation of unlicensed brothels and the prostitution of children. In one case during the reporting period, NGOs and the media reported that local authorities protected the owner of a bar frequented by police officers and prosecutors where victims were subjected to forced prostitution. One of the main witnesses in this case died when she was run over by the accused trafficker, reflecting a need for better witness protection. In partnership with civil society, the government provided training on human trafficking to police officers, immigration officials, and social workers, among others. The government collaborated with the Argentine and Chilean government in several anti-trafficking investigations.

Protection

The government provided limited assistance to trafficking victims last year. The government did not employ a formal mechanism for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as adult women in prostitution or children in the informal mining sector. The government had no formal process for referring trafficking victims for treatment. Authorities reported referring child victims of trafficking to the network of 39 government-run children's homes for at-risk youth. Some adult female victims received services through the government's network of over 100 emergency centers, though these centers do not offer shelter services and none are specifically equipped or staffed to care for trafficking victims. The Peruvian national police maintained preventive centers for minors where some child victims of trafficking were temporarily housed before being referred to other shelters for services. NGOs provided care and shelters to sexually exploited women; however, specialized services and shelter for adult trafficking victims remained largely unavailable and there were no dedicated shelters for trafficking victims in the country. In at least one case during the reporting period, an adult victim was housed in police facilities as no other shelter was available, and in some cases victims housed in police facilities had to sleep on the floor and did not receive proper assistance, including food. Law enforcement officials reported identifying 191 potential trafficking victims, and Peruvian prosecutors reported providing 27 victims with legal, social, and psychological services. The government did not provide financial assistance to anti-trafficking NGOs and adequate victim services remained unavailable in many parts of the country. Military officials pledged to NGOs in 2009 and to the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights in 2010 to discharge 1,000 child soldiers – some of whom might be trafficking victims – though authorities did not publicly report on how many children were actually demobilized from the ranks of the military during the reporting period.

Victim participation in the investigation or prosecution of traffickers remained limited, although several victims under government protection chose to testify against their traffickers during the reporting period. As of 2010, victims are allowed to pursue civil suits against their traffickers free of charge, though no victims were offered assistance in doing so during the reporting period. The government did not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Trafficking victims were eligible for temporary and permanent residency status under Peruvian refugee law, and at least one victim was granted such permanent residency, although victims generally preferred to return to their countries of origin. However, some NGOs noted that authorities did not adequately screen irregular migrants before deportation to verify if they were trafficking victims.

Prevention

The Government of Peru continued strong anti-trafficking prevention efforts. The government's interagency committee continued to meet to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and published an extensive annual report on government efforts over the past year. The government, however, has yet to formalize the draft national plan to combat trafficking that committee members drafted in 2006. During the reporting period, authorities launched the first national campaign against trafficking, in partnership with civil society and with financial support from a foreign government and an international organization. The government continued to advertise its anti-trafficking hotline, which received 31 reports of trafficking in 2010. The Madre de Dios region created a regional action plan against human trafficking, modeled on the draft national plan, with funding for implementation, and three other regions reported strengthened anti-trafficking networks during the reporting period. Some areas of the country are known child sex tourism destinations, and Peruvian laws prohibit this crime; during the reporting period, Peruvian authorities arrested an American tourist for pedophilia. The government provided training to 610 officials and tourism service providers about child sex tourism, conducted a public awareness campaign on the issue, and promoted codes of conduct for tour service providers; to date, 325 businesses have signed code of conduct agreements nationwide. The government provided Peruvian peacekeepers with human rights training, including human trafficking awareness, prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. No efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor were reported.

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