U.S. Department of State 2005 Trafficking in Persons Report - Uruguay

Uruguay (Tier 2)

Uruguay increasingly is a source country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation and a destination and transit country for some forced labor. Traffickers target young women and minors for commercial sexual exploitation in urban areas and popular tourist destinations. Children from poor rural families are sent by their parents, sometimes involuntarily, to work at ranches in conditions of involuntary servitude. Organized groups force some children to beg. Uruguayan women are also trafficked to Europe, Brazil, and Argentina for sexual exploitation. Uruguay serves as a transit point for trafficking routes in the region and women and children from Argentina, Brazil, and other countries are trafficked across Uruguay's poorly controlled borders for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Chinese migrants have been trafficked into forced labor in Uruguay. Newly available information indicating a growing concern over the number of minors in the country who fall victim to trafficking, and particularly trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation, has made it possible to include Uruguay in this report for the first time.

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. The government does not consider trafficking to be widespread in Uruguay but has acknowledged increasing concern. During the reporting period it enacted laws against commercial sexual exploitation of minors and joined neighboring countries in efforts to identify and take remedial steps against commercial sexual exploitation of children. The government should update national laws to address all forms of trafficking, and increase efforts to educate the public, prevent child sex tourism, and protect trafficking victims.


The government's law enforcement efforts against traffickers were limited during the reporting period. Two laws enacted in 2004 strengthened provisions and penalties related to commercial sexual exploitation of children. Uruguay's anti-trafficking laws do not address trafficking of adults, but most trafficking-related crimes fall under existing fraud and slavery statutes. Businesses employing forced laborers are fined or closed – sanctions that could not be applied against groups that forced children to beg. During the reporting period, courts convicted two traffickers for prostitution of minors. In January 2005, police arrested five and issued warrants for two more suspected traffickers who smuggled Chinese migrants and exploited them for forced agricultural labor. The government extradites suspected traffickers and cooperated with Interpol and foreign governments on transnational cases during the reporting period. The government investigated suspected public corruption; in the January 2005 Chinese forced labor case, the government indicted eight and removed four immigration and police officials.


The Government of Uruguay lacked programs for assisting trafficking victims during the last year. The government funded programs and NGOs that targeted assistance to street children, victims of abuse, and at-risk children in general, but none focused on trafficking victims. Courts did not prosecute victims and victims could bring suit against traffickers. The government provided no victim-oriented training for police, but some officials received NGO training on proper techniques for interviewing children.


The government ran no education campaigns focused on trafficking; officials need to learn more about the trafficking problem in Uruguay and work with civil society to educate the public. The government funded an ILO program to keep children in school, and supported NGOs and ran hotline and leaflet campaigns regarding child abuse and exploitation in general. In 2004, the Ministry of Interior created a special office to address child trafficking. In August 2004, the Crime Prevention Office started a database to track trafficking-related cases.


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