Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July 2014, 14:56 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Peru

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Peru, 19 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fe30ca048.html [accessed 23 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.

PERU (Tier 2)

Peru is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Peruvians are exploited in forced labor within the country, mainly in mining, logging, agriculture, brick making, and domestic service. Peruvian women and girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are recruited and coerced into prostitution 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 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, in domestic service, and in cocaine production and transportation. There are continued reports that the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, recruited children to serve as combatants and in the illicit narcotics trade. To a lesser extent, Peruvian women are found in forced prostitution in Ecuador and Argentina, and men and women are found in forced labor in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil, and the United States, among other countries. Peru also is a destination country for some foreign female trafficking victims, particularly from Ecuador, and some Bolivian nationals in conditions of forced labor. Child sex tourism is present in areas such as Cuzco, Lima, and the Peruvian Amazon.

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. The government again failed to make sufficient efforts to address the high incidence of forced labor in the country and, given the magnitude of Peru's trafficking problem and the high number of cases identified, convictions and sentences remained low. Government funding for specialized victim services remained inadequate, particularly in light of the significant number of victims, and law enforcement officials repeatedly conflated sex trafficking and prostitution. The government also failed to take action against government employees facilitating human trafficking. However, authorities maintained law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking offenders, achieved the country's first forced labor conviction, and enacted a national plan against trafficking that had been pending since 2006.

Recommendations for Peru: Significantly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and punish trafficking offenders, especially for forced labor crimes; fund dedicated shelters and specialized services for all victims of trafficking, including adults, or fund NGOs with capacity to provide these services; initiate proactive investigations of forced labor crimes through enhanced partnerships between law enforcement officials, labor officials, and civil society organizations; create and implement formal victim identification and referral mechanisms; ensure that law enforcement officials conduct intelligence-based raids and employ effective victim screening during operations; offer enhanced anti-trafficking training for local prosecutors, judges, labor inspectors, social workers, and law enforcement personnel; hold corrupt officials who may facilitate trafficking activity accountable through criminal investigations and prosecutions; increase funding for resources and training for specialized anti-trafficking police and prosecutorial units; dedicate funding to implementation of the new national plan; improve data collection for trafficking crimes; 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 demonstrated mixed anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. It continued to combat forced prostitution through law enforcement measures, though it again demonstrated weak efforts to investigate and prosecute forced labor offenses. Law 28950 of 2007 prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, as well as people smuggling, 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 continued to report that some law enforcement investigators, prosecutors, and judges often opt to classify human trafficking cases as less serious criminal offenses and prescribe lower penalties. In 2011, police registered 199 potential trafficking cases; these cases involved sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and forced begging, and several cases were registered as both sex and labor trafficking. During 2011, prosecutors initiated prosecutions in 84 trafficking cases and secured four sex trafficking convictions and one forced labor conviction. In 2010, the government reported achieving 12 trafficking convictions, when in fact it achieved only six, highlighting the need for better data collection. Reported sentences for the five convicted offenders in 2011 ranged from four to eight years' imprisonment, in addition to fines; the labor trafficking offender received a suspended sentence, while one sex trafficking offender was convicted in absentia. There continued to be very few prosecutions and convictions reported for forced labor offenses.

The government's dedicated anti-trafficking police division consisted of 50 officers and was based in the capital, with a smaller unit in Iquitos. The division's effectiveness, particularly outside the capital, was hampered by limited resources. Police maintained uneven use of an electronic case tracking system for human trafficking investigation; this system did not track prosecutions and convictions, was not utilized by officers in all parts of the country, and temporarily ceased functioning for two months due to lack of funding for Internet connection. Furthermore, an NGO noted that some police officers erroneously entered prostitution cases as human trafficking cases in the system, reflecting a wider pattern of law enforcement officials conflating prostitution and sex trafficking.

Corruption among low-level officials facilitated trafficking in certain instances, and individual police officers tolerated the operation of unlicensed brothels and commercial sexual exploitation of children. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking. In partnership with civil society organizations and often with international organization and foreign government funding, the government provided training on human trafficking to police officers, prosecutors, diplomats, and other officials.

Protection

The Peruvian government provided minimal assistance to trafficking victims last year. Authorities did not develop or employ systematic procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as people in prostitution or child laborers, and a prominent NGO questioned law enforcement's ability to distinguish between people in prostitution and sex trafficking victims. Labor inspections focused on the formal sector, and inspectors had not received training on forced labor. Law enforcement officials reported identifying 870 potential trafficking victims in 2011, including 700 adults and 170 children, a significant increase from the 191 identified in 2010. It appears, however, that these numbers included a significant number of adult women in prostitution who were not trafficking victims. In previous years, the majority of victims identified were children. The government had no formal process for referring trafficking victims to services. Authorities reported referring female child victims of sex trafficking to the network of 38 government-run children's homes for at-risk youth, including two shelters for teenage girl victims of sexual exploitation that were not specialized for trafficking victims. Adult female victims could receive services through the government's network of over 140 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 vulnerable minors where some child victims of trafficking were temporarily housed. In some cases, however, if other shelters are full, victims have been known to stay for months. NGOs and international organizations provided most services to victims without government funding, and services remained unavailable in many parts of the country, particularly for adults or forced labor victims.

Victim participation in the investigation or prosecution of traffickers remained limited, and Peruvian officials cited lack of funding for victim protection programs as one of the key challenges. Peruvian prosecutors reported providing 170 victims with legal, social, or psychological services, and an NGO study published during the year found that victims received inadequate protection and assistance during the legal process, noting that the identities of adult victims were made public in all cases analyzed. The government did not, however, penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Foreign trafficking victims were eligible for temporary and permanent residency status under Peruvian refugee law, though there were no reports of victims requesting or receiving this status during the year.

Prevention

The Government of Peru maintained anti-trafficking prevention efforts during the year. In October 2011, authorities enacted the national plan to combat trafficking. Government entities were directed to designate funds from their own budgets to implement the plan: while the Ministry of Interior reported dedicating funding for the operation of the interagency committee, most ministries did not have trafficking-designated funding to fulfill their responsibilities. The government's interagency committee, which also included civil society actors, continued to meet to coordinate anti-trafficking efforts and published an extensive annual report on government efforts over the past year. Although they conducted few public awareness efforts, authorities continued to partner with civil society organizations in awareness campaigns and events. The government continued to advertise its anti-trafficking hotline, which received 36 reports of trafficking in 2011; however, some NGOs noted that the hotline was of limited use, as it does not accept calls from cellular phones. Several regional governments maintained anti-trafficking working groups or worked on regional anti-trafficking plans during the year. Some areas of the country are known child sex tourism destinations, and Peruvian laws prohibit this crime. During the reporting period, Peruvian authorities trained tourist service providers on this issue, but reported no investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of child sex tourists in 2011. 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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