U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Argentina
Argentina (Tier 2)
Argentina is primarily a destination country for men, women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and labor. Most foreign victims are women and children trafficked from Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic to supply Argentina's sex trade. Argentine victims are similarly trafficked from rural to urban areas within the country, but they have also been trafficked overseas, mainly into prostitution in Spain. Bolivians are trafficked into Argentina for forced labor. More complete information, pointing to a significant number of victims, has made it possible to include Argentina in this report for the first time.
The Government of Argentina does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Government officials should more forcefully acknowledge Argentina's trafficking problem and adopt national policies to address it. The government should also strengthen law enforcement efforts and deal firmly with corrupt officials. Argentina should cooperate more actively with its neighbors, Paraguay in particular, to detect and shut down trafficking rings and vigorously prosecute trafficking criminals.
Trafficking detection and anti-trafficking prosecution efforts in Argentina are uncoordinated. Prosecutors are hampered by police corruption. Furthermore, the country's law enforcement officers lack a clear mandate from political leaders and resources to aggressively pursue domestic and international traffickers. In the absence of a single comprehensive anti-trafficking law, authorities should much more rigorously enforce existing statutes on conspiracy, child prostitution, sex slavery, and forced labor. A December 2003 migration law could be used against traffickers and carries sentences ranging from one to eight years. In December 2002, officials prosecuted and tried at least four individuals, resulting in one conviction (the defendant received a four-and-a-half year sentence). In a related bribery case, 19 public officials, including police officers, were charged and await trial. Investigations undertaken in another case brought in early 2004 resulted in convictions of three traffickers who received sentences of three to four years. Two more trafficking-related cases are expected to go to trial in 2004, and at least eight other cases are pending.
Argentina lacks a comprehensive nationwide policy of victim protection and, as a result, victim care is sometimes poor. Buenos Aires has a good program for victim protection, aiding dozens of victims, and police department staffs in outlying areas include psychologists to aid victims and witnesses. Some victims qualify for federal government assistance, but most provincial officials are not trained to identify or specifically help victims of trafficking. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has begun to train consular officials to assist Argentine victims abroad, but no data are yet available on the number of possible victims helped.
The national government has no comprehensive policy to prevent trafficking, although isolated preventive measures are in place. The Presidents of Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil and Uruguay have signed an agreement with a provision highlighting the need to coordinate efforts to combat trafficking. The most noticeable prevention activity is found in the city of Buenos Aires, where the government has established a network to conduct information campaigns, outreach, and child victim identification. In addition, the government is participating in an ILO project to prevent and eliminate commercial sexual exploitation of children in the border region with Brazil and Paraguay.