Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2018, 13:56 GMT

2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Uruguay

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 27 June 2011
Cite as United States Department of State, 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report - Uruguay, 27 June 2011, available at: [accessed 17 January 2018]
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.

Uruguay (Tier 2)

Uruguay is a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Most victims are women and girls trafficked within the country to border and tourist areas for commercial sexual exploitation; some boys are also trafficked for the same purpose. Lured by fraudulent recruitment offers, some Uruguayan women migrated to Spain and Italy, and were subsequently forced into prostitution. During the reporting period, there were specific cases of Uruguayan children subjected to sex trafficking in Brazil. Although there have been few confirmed cases of forced labor in Uruguay, there are reports of exploitation of foreign workers in the agricultural sector, including fisheries. There is anecdotal evidence that some cases of human trafficking were linked to local and international crime rings that smuggle narcotics and other contraband and which operate in industrial areas.

The Government of Uruguay 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 increased its prevention efforts and convicted and sentenced two trafficking offenders under laws prohibiting the sexual exploitation of children. The government, however, continues to lag in employing its anti-trafficking law to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders and in proactively investigating potential forced labor cases. The Government of Uruguay also lacked a formal system for identifying trafficking victims, as well as specialized staff and services focused on the needs of victims.

Recommendations for Uruguay: Intensify efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and sentence trafficking offenders using the 2008 trafficking law; enact legislation that would establish victim protections; proactively investigate potential cases of forced labor; increase anti-trafficking training for law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, and social workers; establish a formal mechanism to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, including prostituted women and girls; and expand specialized services for trafficking victims, particularly outside the capital.


The Government of Uruguay maintained law enforcement efforts against sex trafficking offenders during the reporting period. Article 78 of the immigration law, enacted in 2008, prohibits all transnational forms of trafficking, prescribing penalties of four to 16 years' imprisonment; these penalties are increased if the victim is a child or if the trafficker used violence, intimidation, or deceit, and are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. For internal cases of forced labor, authorities can employ Article 280 of the penal code, which prohibits reducing a person to slavery and authorizes sentences between two and six years' imprisonment, or Article 281, which prohibits imprisonment for the purposes of profiting from the coercive use of the victim's services, with sentences of six to 12 years' imprisonment. More often, Uruguayan courts convict trafficking offenders under statutes relating to sexual violence against children or the exploitation of people in prostitution; however, these statutes carry lesser sentences and some can be commuted to community service or fines.

Uruguayan officials investigated several possible trafficking cases in 2010, most of which involved Uruguayan children and all but one of which involved sex trafficking. There have been no reported convictions achieved under the Article 78, or any reported prosecutions or convictions under Article 280 and 281 during the reporting period. As two judges in the specialized court on organized crime in Montevideo are the country's only authorities with jurisdiction over trafficking cases, it is possible that many trafficking cases are not delegated to these officials and are investigated and tried under other statutes. The government sentenced four convicted trafficking offenders under statutes prohibiting the sexual exploitation of children: sentences ranged from three years and six months' to four years and six months' imprisonment. Authorities also convicted another trafficking offender of pimping a child. In comparison, during the previous reporting period, the Government of Uruguay prosecuted two trafficking offenders and reported no convictions or sentences for human trafficking. The government maintained training on identifying and assisting trafficking victims for members of its diplomatic service. The government coordinated several trafficking investigations with Argentine and Brazilian authorities. The government did not report the investigation, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of any public officials for trafficking-related offenses.


The Uruguayan government continued to provide limited protection to trafficking victims, with international donors providing significant funding for these services and few specialized services available. The government does not have a formal system for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as adults in prostitution or undocumented migrants. During the reporting period, one NGO reported providing services to between five and 15 trafficking victims: there were no government estimates of victims identified or assisted. Uruguayan authorities reported referring child victims of trafficking to government institutions for care. The government operated shelters accessible to adult female victims of abuse, including trafficking victims, and sought to provide them with legal, medical, and psychological care, although it is unclear how many adult trafficking victims, if any, received services at these shelters. Victim care services were uneven outside the capital and could not accommodate the demand for services. Government operated shelters did not detain adult trafficking victims involuntarily. Adult male trafficking victims remain ineligible for services. The government did not provide funding to anti-trafficking NGOs and budgetary constraints limited the government's ability to comply with victim assistance mandates. The government encouraged, but did not require, victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. During the year, there were no reports of identified trafficking victims being jailed, deported, or otherwise penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government offered no specific alternatives to trafficking victims' removal to countries where they face retribution or hardship beyond asylum.


The Uruguayan government increased its efforts to raise public awareness of the dangers of sex trafficking during the reporting period. The Ministry of Social Development chaired an interagency roundtable that coordinated government anti-trafficking efforts and met six times in 2010. A committee that addressed cases of commercial and noncommercial sexual exploitation of children met on a more regular basis. The Ministry of Tourism (MOT) conducted "train the trainer" courses in Montevideo for over 250 government officials who work in tourist locales and continued a campaign launched last reporting period to raise awareness about the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The MOT also continued an awareness campaign on commercial sexual exploitation of children and solicited hotels and service providers to sign on to an anti-trafficking code of conduct; 30 new service providers signed during the reporting period for a total of 148 signatories. Transparency in the government's anti-trafficking measures was minimal; it did not publicly report on the effectiveness of its own efforts during the year, though it reported doing so internally. However, the government financed a study on the trafficking of minors in the border region with Brazil; the findings reportedly will be published later in 2011. Authorities provided anti-trafficking training to Uruguayan troops being deployed on international peacekeeping missions during the year. The government continued to distribute pamphlets on human trafficking to women in prostitution at their mandatory medical checkups. There were no known efforts to address the demand for forced labor.

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