Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Bolivia

BOLIVIA (Tier 2)

Bolivia is principally a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual and labor exploitation. Bolivians are trafficked mainly to Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Spain, and the United States for forced labor in sweatshops, factories, and agriculture. Young Bolivian women and girls are trafficked within the country from rural to urban areas for commercial sexual exploitation. Members of indigenous communities are at risk for domestic labor exploitation, particularly on sugar cane and Brazil nut plantations. Bolivian children are trafficked internally for forced labor in mining, agriculture, and as domestic servants. Some reports indicate that parents have sold or rented their children into farm labor exploitation near border areas with Peru. Undocumented migrants from Asia reportedly transit Bolivia; some may be trafficking victims.

The Government of Bolivia 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 demonstrated significant anti-trafficking progress last year by increasing law enforcement actions against trafficking offenders, expanding victim services, and sustaining prevention efforts.

Recommendations for Bolivia: Continue to intensify anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts; commence investigations of corrupt officials suspected of trafficking activity; increase victim services across the country; dedicate resources to investigating and preventing forced labor; develop procedures for identifying victims among potential trafficking populations; and amend anti-trafficking laws to provide greater legal protections for victims.


The Government of Bolivia significantly increased law enforcement efforts against trafficking crimes over the last year. The government prohibits all forms of human trafficking through its comprehensive anti-trafficking law enacted in 2006, which prescribes penalties of up to 12 years' imprisonment. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for rape. In 2007, the Bolivian National Police opened 118 antitrafficking investigations, a marked increase over 2006. Special anti-trafficking police and prosecutors filed seven trafficking prosecutions in court and achieved five convictions, with sentences imposed on convicted trafficking offenders ranging from three to seven years of imprisonment. Such results demonstrate increased efforts from 2006, when the government secured two convictions and sentences against trafficking offenders. With U.S. assistance, the prosecutor's office in Santa Cruz formed an integrated victims' unit of police investigators, prosecutors, medical, and psychological personnel to investigate trafficking and sexual abuse crimes and provide direct aid to victims. Bolivian police also significantly stepped up use of proactive techniques such as raids of brothels and other sites, and rescued a total of 129 children exploited in prostitution – almost double the number of victims rescued in 2006. The government worked with international organizations and the United States to train prosecutors and anti-trafficking personnel. There were reports of some government officials tolerating trafficking activity, particularly involving labor exploitation on large plantations, and in border areas. However, no investigations or prosecutions of such suspected corrupt activity have been initiated by the government.


The Bolivian government increased resources and strengthened collaboration with municipal authorities and NGOs for the protection of trafficking victims over the last year. Nevertheless, services for victims remain unavailable in many parts of the country, especially outside larger cities such as La Paz and Santa Cruz. However, in 2007, the prosecutor's office in Santa Cruz created a temporary shelter capable of caring for 120 trafficking victims. The Prefecture of the Department of La Paz also operates a shelter with capacity for 40 victims of commercial sexual exploitation, and La Paz's city government operates an emergency shelter that assists trafficking victims, in addition to other victims of domestic and sexual violence. The government makes efforts to encourage victims to assist with the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. Although the government generally provides appropriate legal protection to trafficking victims, some are jailed or penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government lacks effective procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations such as criminal detainees, prostituted women, and migrant and child workers.


The government sustained its prevention and public awareness efforts by conducting 75 anti-trafficking seminars and education campaigns, reaching approximately 2,800 persons. The government also worked closely with NGOs and international organizations on prevention activities. The government reported no efforts to reduce demand for commercial sex acts during the year. Moreover, no information was available on measures the government may have taken to prevent Bolivian troops from engaging in trafficking-related activity when deployed abroad as part of a peacekeeping operation.

Bolivia tier ranking by year


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.