Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 08:28 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - El Salvador

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 - El Salvador, 4 June 2008, available at: [accessed 25 May 2016]
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.


El Salvador is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Most victims are Salvadoran women and girls trafficked within the country from rural to urban areas for sexual exploitation. The majority of foreign victims are women and children from Nicaragua and Honduras who travel to El Salvador in response to job offers, but are subsequently forced into prostitution or domestic servitude. Some Salvadorans are trafficked to Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States for commercial sexual exploitation. There are reports of men and children from neighboring countries who are subject to forced agricultural labor in El Salvador.

The Government of El Salvador 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, the government sustained law enforcement and victim protection efforts, and made strong progress on prevention activities. The government also took strong steps to address trafficking-related corruption by sentencing a former police officer to seven years in jail.

Recommendations for El Salvador: Strengthen law enforcement efforts against trafficking offenders; investigate and prosecute, as appropriate, reports of labor exploitation; increase victim services and assistance, particularly for adults; increase anti-trafficking training for judicial officials; and consider increasing penalties for trafficking-in-persons crimes.


The Government of El Salvador sustained solid law enforcement efforts against trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Article 367B of the Salvadoran Penal Code prohibits all forms of human trafficking and prescribes penalties of four to eight years' imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for rape and other serious offenses. Some prosecutors elected to charge trafficking-related crimes under rape statutes in order to secure heavier sentences against offenders. In 2007, the government prosecuted 46 human trafficking cases, down from 67 cases prosecuted in 2006. However, in 2007 prosecutors obtained five trafficking convictions with sentences ranging from six to eight years' imprisonment, compared to four convictions obtained in 2006. Throughout the last year, police conducted undercover trafficking investigations and acted on tips to raid brothels and other commercial sex sites. More than 70 trafficking victims, mostly children, were rescued from trafficking situations. Children found in brothels or in other dangerous circumstances were routinely taken into government protective custody. The government focused law enforcement efforts on sexual exploitation cases; complaints of labor exploitation and domestic servitude were, however, generally not investigated. The government cooperated with the governments of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Belize, and the United States on transnational trafficking cases during the reporting period. In February 2008, the government took strong steps to address official complicity by securing a seven-year prison term against a former police officer convicted of trafficking-related activity.


The Salvadoran government sustained victim assistance efforts during the reporting period. ISNA, a national agency for children and adolescents, operated a national network of 11 shelters which provide secure housing, 24-hour medical attention, psychological counseling, and vocational workshops to minor trafficking victims and other victims of abuse. An additional shelter for trafficking victims, which was previously operated by an NGO with government support, is being administered by the government, but was not re-opened during the reporting period. Moreover, government shelters and services were directed toward minor girls, and not readily accessible to adult or boy trafficking victims. Greater reintegration assistance may prevent some victims from being re-trafficked. Adult female trafficking victims had limited access to a small shelter run by the Institute of Women in which they could stay for up to 15 days. The government trained personnel on identifying trafficking victims and providing assistance, including for consular officials posted in likely destination and transit countries for Salvadoran victims. The government also maintained "protection consulates" along major human smuggling and trafficking routes between El Salvador and the United States. These consulates arranged immediate medical care for injured Salvadorans, including trafficking victims, and assisted with repatriation efforts. Domestically, Salvadoran authorities encouraged victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. There were no reports of victims being charged, jailed, or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked. Foreign victims were not deported; they faced voluntary repatriation with government assistance, though the government provided no legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they face hardship or retribution.


The Salvadoran government significantly increased prevention efforts during the reporting period. The government ran anti-trafficking information and education campaigns, and operated an antitrafficking hotline. In conjunction with ILO, the government in June 2007 implemented a large anti-trafficking pilot project, training more than 700 teachers and 28,000 students about the risks of commercial sexual exploitation. An additional awareness campaign focused on the risks of illegal migration and human trafficking. With assistance from IOM, the government conducted widespread training of law enforcement personnel, reaching more than 1,500 police officers nationwide. Border agents also received training to detect trafficking activity and irregular migration, such as minors traveling across borders. No government efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts were reported over the last year.

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