U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Colombia

Colombia (Tier 1)

Colombia is one of the Western Hemisphere's major source countries for women and girls trafficked abroad for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Colombian women and girls are trafficked throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, East Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. Within the country, some Colombian men are trafficked for forced labor, but trafficking of women and children from rural to urban areas for sexual exploitation remains a larger problem. Internal armed violence in Colombia has displaced many communities, making them vulnerable to trafficking, and insurgent and paramilitary groups have forcibly recruited and exploited thousands of children as soldiers. Organized criminal networks – some connected to terrorist organizations – and local gangs also force displaced men, women, and children into conditions of commercial sexual exploitation and compulsory labor.

The Government of Colombia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government intensified law enforcement actions against traffickers during the reporting period, and sustained solid prevention and protection efforts. In the coming year, the government should continue to work with civil society to raise public awareness and improve protection services for victims.


The Government of Colombia made strong progress in identifying and prosecuting criminal acts of trafficking during the reporting period. Colombian law prohibits all forms of human trafficking through a comprehensive anti-trafficking statute, Law 985, which was enacted in 2005 and prescribes penalties of up to 23 years' imprisonment – penalties sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other grave crimes. In 2006, authorities opened 49 investigations against traffickers. The government also initiated 75 trafficking prosecutions, which represents more than a doubling of cases since 2005. The government also achieved 10 convictions against traffickers in 2006, a five-fold increase since 2005. Eight of these convictions were against a large band of traffickers in Pereira. Six women and two men were sentenced to 48 months' imprisonment for their roles in trafficking persons to Panama, Japan, and Spain. The remaining two convictions came from a case in the city of Armenia, in which the defendants were each sentenced to six and a half years' imprisonment. The government worked with international organizations to increase training for judges and prosecutors, and cooperated with foreign governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Panama, Italy, and Spain on international trafficking cases. The government is currently investigating one U. S. citizen in connection with child pornography. There were no reports of public officials' complicity in trafficking.


The government sustained its efforts to address victims' needs during the reporting period. The Colombian government provides limited funding to NGOs to provide shelter and other services to trafficking victims, and it relied on NGOs and international organizations to provide the bulk of victim assistance. The government provides specialized training to consular officials to help them recognize potential trafficking victims, and Colombian missions abroad assist Colombian victims. Police investigators have set up special interview facilities in Bogota's international airport to debrief returning victims and investigate their cases. The government also has approved plans to open an anti-trafficking operations center in the coming year. It will serve as a central repository of anti-trafficking information for victims, and will include a national call center. The government operates a witness-protection program for trafficking victims participating in court proceedings. Colombian authorities encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. There were no reports of victims being jailed or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. Because Colombia is not a significant destination country for trafficking, there is no demand for temporary residency status for foreign victims.


The government made modest progress during the reporting year in raising public awareness, but continued to rely heavily on NGOs and international organizations to conduct trafficking-prevention campaigns. The government completed its national action plan on trafficking in persons; implementation of the plan is pending. The government worked closely with IOM to develop a national hotline to report trafficking crimes. The government also worked with NGOs to distribute a comprehensive guide to victim assistance and other awareness-raising materials such as posters, radio, and television spots. The government sponsors assistance programs targeted to populations vulnerable to trafficking, such as micro-lending for women and anti-child labor programs.


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