Chile (Tier 2)
Chile is a source and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary labor. Most victims are Chilean minors who are trafficked internally for the purpose of prostitution. Making a commendable research effort, the Chilean National Department of Children's Affairs (SENAME) reported in 2003 that more than 3,700 children and adolescents have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation. There are police and press reports of cross-border trafficking of Chilean women to Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan. Some victims are trafficked into Chile from Peru, Argentina, and Bolivia, although distinguishing trafficked persons from economic migrants is difficult. More complete information, pointing to a significant number of victims, has made it possible to include Chile in this report for the first time.
The Government of Chile does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Chilean authorities are aware of the trafficking challenge. Government agencies have investigated traffickers and assisted victims, but efforts are largely ad hoc and need national direction. Chile recently enacted a tougher law to penalize pornographers who exploit trafficked children. Authorities need to increase their vigilance in rescuing children from underage prostitution and prosecute their traffickers. Chilean national law should reflect the international standard and prohibit minors under the age of 18 from taking part in prostitution, and punish those who encourage them to do so. Currently, the age of consent is 14 and prostitution is not outlawed. Chile should also expand cooperation with source and destination countries to identify and arrest traffickers.
The government lacks a comprehensive anti-trafficking statute and law enforcement policy. A number of existing laws can be applied, including Penal Code 367, which specifically penalizes cross-border trafficking. An anti-trafficking police unit exists and authorities actively investigate cases involving child prostitution and forced adult prostitution. In 2002, the government investigated 18 Internet pornography and pedophilia networks (involving child trafficking victims), six cases of child prostitution, and a case of four young women trafficked to Japan for sexual exploitation. A prominent Chilean is currently being prosecuted on child pornography charges. This high-profile case has promoted awareness of the problem and the need for strict enforcement of existing laws to protect children.
The government lacks a specific strategy for protecting trafficking victims. However, several government agencies assist crime and domestic violence victims, particularly women and children. Child victims of sex trafficking are placed with SENAME and provided counseling. The government runs a center for abused children and provides funding to NGOs that help victims of sexual exploitation. Police and prosecutors have units with trained attorneys and psychologists to assist victims of crime, including trafficking. The government has helped to repatriate foreign victims, but has yet to adopt a uniform policy on handling victims.
Chile does not have a comprehensive policy to prevent trafficking. State programs address social factors, such as child poverty and school attendance, that put victims at risk. The government has developed a plan to combat commercial sexual abuse and the worst forms of child labor, but conducts no targeted national anti-trafficking prevention programs.