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Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Uruguay

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - Uruguay, 14 June 2010, available at: [accessed 17 January 2022]
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 primarily a source and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution 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. There is anecdotal evidence some cases of human trafficking were linked to local and international crime rings, which traffic narcotics and other contraband.

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, sustained victim protection services, and brought one trafficking case to trial. However, the government continues to lag in adequately prosecuting and convicting trafficking offenders.

Recommendations for Uruguay: Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and to convict and punish trafficking offenders; proactively investigate potential cases of forced labor; increase use of the new anti-trafficking law; expand anti-trafficking training for judges and law enforcement personnel; establish a formal mechanism to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, including prostituted women and girls; and enhance and expand victim services, particularly outside the capital.


The Government of Uruguay sustained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the last year. In 2008, the government enacted an anti-trafficking statute as part of a broader immigration reform package. Article 78 of that law prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, 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. Article 78 supplements older Uruguayan laws prohibiting child trafficking, child pornography, and forced labor, which prescribe penalties ranging from six months' to 12 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with punishments prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the reporting period, the government prosecuted two trafficking offenders in one case under its new anti-trafficking statute; the two traffickers subjected seven women to forced prostitution in Spain and remain in prison awaiting sentencing. This remains the only case tried under the anti-trafficking law; however, other cases were tried under anti-pimping statutes. The government maintained anti-trafficking training for members of its diplomatic corps, and several border officials received training in how to identify potential trafficking victims. The government sustained partnerships with other governments to cooperate on international trafficking cases, working particularly close with the Argentine government, with whom they share immigration databases. There was no confirmed evidence of official complicity of Uruguayan officials with human trafficking.


The Uruguayan government continued to ensure trafficking victims received access to basic victim services during the year, with international donors providing significant funding for these services. Uruguayan authorities referred 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: however, the government could not accommodate the demand for these services, and victim care services were uneven outside the capital. Adult male trafficking victims remain ineligible for services. While the government provided limited funding to NGOs working in the area of trafficking, the majority of human trafficking-related victim services remained concentrated in the capital. The government does not have a formal system for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as adults in prostitution or undocumented migrants. However, the government worked with a local NGO to distribute leaflets about human trafficking to women in prostitution. The government encourages, but does not require, victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. In June 2009, the government passed new legislation offering additional witness protection to victims who testify; however, the law has yet to be used in a human trafficking case. There were no reports of victims being jailed, deported, or otherwise penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Uruguayan law does not force the repatriation of any foreign trafficking victim, and allows trafficking victims to seek citizenship in Uruguay.


The Uruguayan government increased its efforts to raise public awareness of the dangers of human trafficking and child prostitution during the reporting period. The government continued to forge partnerships with NGOs, international organizations, and foreign governments, and officials participated in several regional conferences and training activities related to human trafficking. In an effort to reduce consumer demand for commercial sex acts involving children, the government launched a campaign in February 2010 to distribute 30,000 anti-trafficking leaflets and 10,000 stickers in tourist areas. Government officials maintained efforts to reach out to hotel workers and to others in the broader tourism sector to raise awareness about child sex tourism and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The Ministry of Education continued to include anti-trafficking material in its high school sex education curriculum. Two government committees related to human trafficking met on a regular basis: an informal interagency committee that coordinates the government's anti-trafficking efforts, and a special committee that addressed cases of commercial and noncommercial sexual exploitation of children. Authorities provided anti-trafficking training to Uruguayan troops being deployed on international peacekeeping missions during the year. The government collaborated with a local NGO to publish and distribute 3,000 informational leaflets on human trafficking to women in prostitution. There were no known efforts to address demand for forced labor.

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