U.S. Department of State 2003 Trafficking in Persons Report - Venezuela

Venezuela (Tier 2)

Venezuela is a destination, transit, and source country for trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation. Women are trafficked to Venezuela from Colombia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru and Cuba. Venezuelan women and girls are trafficked internally from rural to urban areas and internationally to Spain, Portugal and the United States. Children are trafficked internally for labor and sexual exploitation. Some undocumented residents in Venezuela from Colombia, Ecuador and Peru fall victim to traffickers. Because of its lax border controls, illegal migrants transit Venezuela; some of these migrants may be trafficked.

The Government of Venezuela does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so, despite limited resources. The government's ability to address trafficking is uniquely hindered by the country's current political and economic situation. Many officials are only slowly recognizing the nature of the trafficking problem. Some government offices – such as the National Institute for Women – are institutionally capable of responding to trafficking, but have not focused heavily on this issue. By committing more resources to the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases, cooperating with NGOs to widen the understanding of the issue, and addressing trafficking-related corruption, the government can make progress in combating trafficking in persons.


The government's National Institute for Women (called "Inamujer") runs a toll-free telephone hotline in which counselors are on standby to advise women in distress, but has not conducted any specific outreach or anti-trafficking information campaigns to make this resource more widely known. NGOs active in combating trafficking seek opportunities to cooperate with the government in developing a national plan. In prevention efforts not specific to trafficking, the government provides some support to prevent violence against women and increase women's participation in the economy.


Venezuela has no comprehensive law to address trafficking. The Organic Law to Protect Children and Adolescents could be used to prosecute traffickers of minors, but there is no information on any such prosecutions. In 2002, the Attorney General planned to increase significantly the number of prosecutors working on immigration matters, but budget cuts stymied this effort. Venezuela does not adequately monitor its borders. Corruption is a problem; some officials are accused of facilitating the illegal movement of people.


The Venezuelan legal system has good intentions with regard to the protection of women and children, but specific resources committed to combat trafficking are limited. Inamujer has opened three emergency shelters to help battered women, which include trafficking victims. Women sheltered under the aegis of Inamujer have recourse to legal services; however, victims are not specifically encouraged to pursue legal action against traffickers and there is no information on any such cases. Foreign victims are not treated as criminals and their rights are theoretically respected; however, the government makes no special efforts to determine who is a victim and some may be deported as illegal migrants. Venezuelan diplomatic officials are instructed to give consular assistance to their nationals in need overseas, but the government does not generally provide specialized training on trafficking.


This 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.