Trafficking in Persons Report
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
June 14, 2004
Report

ARGENTINA (TIER 2)

Map of Western HemisphereArgentina 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.

Prosecution
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.

Protection
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.

Prevention
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.

BELIZE (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Belize is a transit and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and debt bondage. Belizean brothel operators contract with traffickers to bring women and girls from Central America into Belize for the sex trade. Belizean girls are also trafficked internally for sexual exploitation in prostitution and pornography. Because of Belize's lax border controls, illegal migrants—notably from China and India—enter and transit the country, bound for Mexico and the U.S. Many illegal migrants perform labor in Belize to pay off their huge smuggling debts; they may be forced to do this work.

The Government of Belize does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Belize's efforts were reassessed to have met the requirements of Tier 2 in September 2003 as a result of several government initiatives: the enactment of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, the creation of a national taskforce, and stepped-up law enforcement efforts against brothel owners and operators. The government needs to sustain these efforts by arresting and prosecuting the many traffickers who are active in illegal migration and sexual exploitation. The government also needs to address government corruption by removing and prosecuting officials who patronize brothels with trafficking victims or profit from illegal migration. For these reasons, Belize is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
The government's law enforcement efforts are guided by the anti-trafficking statute enacted in the summer of 2003. Police made 11 trafficking-related arrests. There have been no prosecutions or convictions. Of four sex traffickers arrested in the summer of 2003, one defendant was released on a technicality; three others are out on bail and no trial dates have been set. Police arrested several migrant smugglers (who are often transporting trafficking victims), and should redouble these efforts. Prosecuting corrupt government officials should remain a priority.

Protection
The national anti-trafficking law contains commendable victim protection policies, but implementation is hindered by a lack of resources. The government does not treat victims as criminals, and foreign victims may claim residency status. The government lacks the resources to provide victims with adequate services; victims are referred to NGOs for this purpose.

Prevention
Belize's anti-trafficking strategy is set by the national taskforce, which has made considerable progress in coordinating government actions, but has yet to release a national plan. The government conducted a brief multimedia public awareness campaign. The government carried out training of public officials, but needs to devote more resources to protecting the border and devising an aggressive anti-trafficking border policy.

BOLIVIA (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Bolivia is a source country for men, women and children trafficked for labor and sexual exploitation to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, the United States, and Western Europe. Widespread poverty, political instability, and cultural factors force thousands of Bolivians to work in sub-standard circumstances or illegally migrate, placing large numbers at risk of being trafficked. Bolivian children are particularly vulnerable. Children are trafficked from rural to urban areas, including for sexual exploitation. The Bolivian-Brazilian border is also an area of commercial sexual exploitation. Bolivia is a transit country for illegal migrants from outside the region; 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. These efforts are hindered by limited resources and a prolonged political and economic crisis. Bolivian leaders should work to enhance public awareness and display national commitment on trafficking. Bolivia needs to focus police and prosecutorial officials to implement comprehensive law enforcement against traffickers.

Legislation that outlaws the trafficking of children is pending in Congress. The government should continue targeting for removal corrupt officials who may be involved in trafficking. The appointment of a government anti-trafficking coordinator would represent further concrete progress in the government's effort to combat trafficking. Because of the magnitude of the problem it faces and the expectation that the government can do more, Bolivia is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
The government has no anti-trafficking law enforcement strategy or policy direction from senior officials. The government keeps no official statistics on trafficking, but made scores of narcotics-trafficking arrests (some of which had a trafficking component) and a number of arrests under the "corruption of youth" law. While officials have arrested and prosecuted migrant smugglers, some observers suggest they have rarely targeted those with explicit trafficking links.

Authorities have rarely if ever used an existing 1999 statute that penalizes trafficking in women. Corrupt officials who facilitate cross-border trafficking remain a concern.

Protection
Political and economic crises undermine the government's ability to implement a comprehensive strategy to assist victims. Child welfare programs supported by the national and municipal governments and by local and international NGOs provide limited help to persons in need, but there is no available data on the number of trafficking victims assisted. A small number of officials have received training on identifying the patterns and characteristics of trafficking, including the identification of victims. Officials have brought to the attention of the Governments of Chile, Peru, and Argentina situations of Bolivians being trafficked in those countries. Bolivia has also begun to make similar efforts with governments in Western Europe and in Brazil.

Prevention
Senior government officials in 2003 expressed a commitment to undertake anti-trafficking measures, such as tightening immigration controls and ensuring that children have identity documents, but a lack of resources has hampered these efforts. Bolivia's current inter-agency working group coordinates long-term policy on child trafficking and child welfare issues (particularly the worst forms of child labor), but it lacks the resources to produce concrete results. Resource constraints have compelled the government to seek program funding from international donors.

BRAZIL (TIER 2)

Brazil is a source and destination country for men, women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation and involuntary labor. Women and girls are trafficked to neighboring countries in South America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Western Europe. Some 75,000 Brazilian women and girls are estimated to be in prostitution in Europe, with 5,000 more in countries in Latin America. Many are trafficking victims. Internal trafficking also targets Brazilian children, often in the context of sex tourism. Internal trafficking for forced labor, primarily from urban to rural areas for agricultural work, is a major problem. The ILO estimates 25,000 Brazilians are victims of forced labor trafficking. Bolivians and Chinese are also trafficked into Brazil for labor exploitation.

The Government of Brazil does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Brazil needs to significantly strengthen law enforcement efforts against traffickers. Traffickers in Brazil rarely face incarceration as punishment for their crimes. Although the government has given new energy to prevention measures and victim protection, those efforts are incomplete without more effective law enforcement.

Prosecution
Brazil's law enforcement efforts, though improving, have yet to produce many criminal convictions. Anti-trafficking laws that punish both sex and labor traffickers exist and are generally enforced, but violators rarely receive criminal penalties. The Labor Ministry continues to liberate victims of labor trafficking (4,700 in 2003) and fine the traffickers. Criminal cases are handed over to Justice Ministry prosecutors. Although complete data is unavailable, officials estimate that 50-100 labor trafficking defendants were prosecuted in 2003. Many of these court proceedings have not reached conclusion. Only a few defendants have been convicted, and all of them remain free on appeal. The government provided no data on persons prosecuted for trafficking women into the sex trade (under Penal Code Art. 231), but the ILO reports that over the past three years federal authorities brought 68 such cases to court (some with more than one defendant). Most of these cases are still open. To date there have been few convictions.

Protection
The government's protection efforts have yielded mixed results. Officials make significant efforts to protect Brazilian victims at home, but victims abroad receive significantly less assistance. The Ministry of Social Assistance operates more than 335 centers nationwide (the Sentinel Program) to assist victims of exploitation. The government also operates seven centers specifically to assist trafficking victims, but some foreign victims are summarily deported. No special facilities exist to help Brazilian victims abroad; they receive standard citizen services, but generally no more. The government has failed to develop an aggressive policy to help such victims, many of whom are victims of sexual exploitation.

Prevention
President Lula has declared on several occasions that fighting trafficking is a national priority. He has announced a Comprehensive Program, now in progress, though much remains to be done. The government developed a national plan to prevent sexual violence against youth, and there are pro-grams to prevent the worst forms of child labor. The federal government also funds information campaigns to combat sex tourism, child sexual exploitation, and labor trafficking. Federal authorities are attempting to improve monitoring of the highway system, border crossings and the coastline. Given the relatively scarce resources available to patrol Brazil's extensive land borders, the authorities will have to develop better intelligence to combat trafficking by land routes.

CANADA (TIER 1)

Canada is primarily a destination and transit country for women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation from China, South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Latin America, Russia, and Eastern Europe. To a lesser extent, men, women and children are trafficked for forced labor, and Canadian citizens are trafficked internally for the sex trade. Most transiting victims are bound for the U.S. In a recent criminal intelligence assessment, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) estimates that 800 persons are trafficked into Canada annually and that an additional 1,500-2,200 persons are trafficked through Canada into the U.S. Some observers believe these numbers significantly understate the problem.

The Government of Canada fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government's Interdepartmental Working Group coordinates and reports on the effectiveness of the national anti-trafficking policy. Senior government officials are speaking out more often, and more resources are being devoted to border control; a new RCMP anti-trafficking taskforce is also being created. For these reasons, Canada has been reclassified from Tier 2 to Tier 1.

Prosecution
The Government of Canada made impressive gains in prosecuting traffickers in 2003, as its law enforcement statistics demonstrate. Canada has prosecuted traffickers in the context of general law enforcement efforts, but is now starting to implement a specific anti-trafficking law enforcement strategy. The overall results are solid, even though Canada's federal system and diversity of criminal codes complicate data collection. Reviewing national statistics, Canada's Justice Department reported that at least 40 traffickers were prosecuted in the reporting period. So far 16 defendants have been convicted; sentences range from one to seven years. Other cases are still in the courts.

Protection
Canadian social service agencies offer assistance to trafficking victims who have Canadian citizenship, residency, or other legal rights to be in Canada. Under Canadian law, undocumented aliens are allowed to claim refugee status, which would permit them to remain in Canada with limited benefits while their cases are adjudicated. However, critics claim that in practice the complexity of the application process effectively prevents some victims from claiming refugee status before they are deported. Canadian authorities deny this is the case. Identifying trafficking victims inside clandestine migrant smuggling operations is difficult.

Prevention
Canada is engaged at home and abroad in preventing and warning about the dangers of trafficking. The government publishes a multi-lingual pamphlet about trafficking and funds a range of Canada-based NGOs and institutions that are active in efforts to prevent trafficking. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funds anti-trafficking programs on four continents. Canadian immigration officers are stationed in key source countries to hinder trafficking networks. Canadian authorities protect their borders, although officials should reassess visa requirements for certain nationals, such as South Koreans. South Koreans do not require a visa to enter Canada and are being trafficked via Canada into the U.S.

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.

Prosecution
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.

Protection
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.

Prevention
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.

COLOMBIA (TIER 1)

Colombia is a major source and transit country for women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation. Colombians are trafficked to Central America, Panama, the Caribbean (particularly the Netherlands Antilles), Japan, Singapore, and Europe (particularly Spain and the Netherlands). The Colombian government estimates that up to 50,000 of its citizens are in prostitution abroad, mainly in Western Europe and Japan; many of these persons are trafficked for sexual exploitation. There is significant internal trafficking for sexual exploitation in which victims are transported from rural to urban areas. Some Colombian men and boys are trafficked internally for forced labor, and the FARC terrorist organization carries out forced conscription of children for armed conflict.

The Government of Colombia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government has shown political will at the highest levels to address one of the largest national outflows of trafficking victims in the Western Hemisphere, brought about by a guerrilla insurgency and narco-criminal enterprises. In response, the government's inter-agency committee is a model for the hemisphere: coordinating prevention campaigns, promoting law enforcement, launching a criminal database, and facilitating intra-government cooperation.

Prosecution
Colombia has a comprehensive anti-trafficking law and an active enforcement strategy, the keystone of which is to reach out to police officials in destination countries to break up trafficking rings and prosecute traffickers. The government conducted six international operations that freed 14 women and led to the arrests of eight traffickers. Colombia's cross-border cooperation is excellent and should be expanded to Panama and Western Europe. In 2003, the government conducted 16 prosecutions resulting in several plea bargains and three convictions for trafficking offenses. There were another 306 investigations; this marked a 38% increase from the previous year.

Protection
The government recognizes the needs of victims and generally makes solid attempts to assist its citizens abroad and child victims at home. However, these efforts are inconsistent and hampered by a lack of resources. For example, some Colombian diplomatic missions, such as the embassy in Japan, have aggressively worked to help Colombian victims; others, such as the embassy in Panama, have not thoroughly pursued with Panamanian officials the need to rescue victims trafficked for sexual exploitation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to ensure that Colombian victims who want to return home are able to do so. Generally, only child victims of internal trafficking receive government assistance.

Prevention
The government provides leadership and coordinates with a wide variety of institutions, including NGOs, in implementing its prevention strategy. The inter-agency committee has prepared information campaigns and helped ensure telephone hotlines function effectively. Colombian immigration officials monitor airports closely to seek out and warn potential trafficking victims before they depart; most trafficking victims travel by air. By comparison, Colombia's land border and seaports are poorly monitored. Colombia is faced with the formidable challenge of organized crime luring its citizens abroad, particularly to Western Europe and Japan. Despite prevention efforts, this outbound trafficking continues largely unabated. Destination countries need to work more closely with the Colombian government to stem this flow.

COSTA RICA (TIER 2)

Costa Rica is mainly a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation. Victims are internally trafficked from San Jose to coastal and border communities in the provinces of Limon, Puntarenas, and Guanacaste. Victims are trafficked to Costa Rica from Nicaragua, Colombia, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, the Philippines, Russia, and Eastern Europe. Although most foreign victims remain in Costa Rica, traffickers also attempt to transport them onward to the U.S. and Canada. Costa Ricans migrate illegally to the U.S. and Canada; authorities believe some may be trafficked. In 2003, authorities discovered two Costa Rican women in Japan who had been trafficked there.

The Government of Costa Rica does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Costa Rica needs to create institutional links between its increasingly effective law enforcement efforts against traffickers and social services to victims. As a regional leader, Costa Rica is positioned to play a strong role in developing mechanisms to gather and share intelligence on trafficking in Central America and the Caribbean.

Prosecution
Costa Rica's law enforcement strategy is based on interagency collaboration between special units of the Public Ministry, Ministry of Public Security and Judicial Investigative Police. While these units were augmented in 2003, their important work remains hampered by resource constraints. According to government data, in 2003, authorities made 14 trafficking-related arrests. All of those arrested were detained on charges of child sexual exploitation. Of the 14, authorities placed six offenders in pretrial custody, prosecutors charged seven defendants, and the courts sentenced one defendant. Costa Rica is considering new legislation to improve its anti-trafficking laws. These improvements should address all forms of trafficking, including internal trafficking.

Protection
The government has a victim protection policy, but it may be unevenly applied. Officials assist Costa Rican victims, but shelter space is too limited to accommodate all the victims. Authorities claim that foreign victims are recognized and may be given legal status to help prosecute their traffickers; otherwise, they are repatriated home. Some observers claim that foreign victims are deported as illegal migrants.

Prevention
The Costa Rican Government recognizes that trafficking is a serious problem. Its national plan on commercial sexual exploitation was updated in 2003, but more aggressive government action is needed. Limited by resources, current government prevention measures are scattered and consist mainly of occasional public statements, radio programming, and social programs that target vulnerable groups. Borders remain porous and are a subject of continuing concern.

CUBA (TIER 3)

Cuba is a country of internal trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Child sexual victims are generally teenage girls aged 14 to 17 who are abused in prostitution. The Cuban Government does not condone underage prostitution, but does not publicly address the problem, which largely takes place in the context of tourism that earns hard currency for the state. Cuba is a destination for sex tourists, including foreigners searching for underage prostitutes. Cuba's tourist industry is heavily dominated by state companies, and government employees tolerate corrupt practices that facilitate this sexual exploitation, sometimes even making state-run facilities available for underage prostitution. Traffickers and prostitutes often arrange room rentals in private homes for their illegal activities. Most traffickers work in small, informal networks, luring teenagers into the sex trade with promises of fast money and consumer goods. Cuban forced labor victims include children coerced to work in commercial agriculture. Some opponents of the Cuban Government, often arrested under vague charges such as "dangerousness" and "con-tempt of authority," are forced to carry out work that profits the state.

The Government of Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Cuban officials dismiss as politically motivated any criticisms of the government's failure to address trafficking. They have avoided developing a strategy to address the problem. The government needs to publicly acknowledge that trafficking occurs, implement a national plan to prevent teenagers from entering the sex trade, and end its forced labor practices.

Prosecution
The government has no anti-trafficking law enforcement policy and there was no observed progress in punishing traffickers during the last year. The government instituted a broad crackdown against prostitution and related activities during 2003, including shutting down private home room rentals that reportedly contributed to the problem of child prostitution. Officials did not provide information on the effectiveness of these efforts. Existing statutes allow for the prosecution of sex trafficking offenses, but the government refuses to release any data on the few prosecutions that it reportedly conducts. Bilateral police cooperation has taken place on specific sex trafficking investigations, but as a matter of policy Cuban authorities do not admit to the existence of a problem. At least four U.S. citizens were arrested and have been convicted in Cuba on charges of "corruption of minors." Cuban authorities contributed evidence that led to the conviction of a major child pornographer in the U.S. and the dismantling of a pornography ring in Cuba, which involved commercially sexually exploited children.

Protection
The government does not provide protection services to trafficking victims and there has been no progress in this area during 2003. Child victims of the sex trade are generally treated as criminals. Suspected prostitutes, including children, are often detained in police sweeps, held for several hours or days, fined, and released. The government describes its use of forced child labor as a "voluntary" arrangement and does not acknowledge that it constitutes trafficking.

Prevention
The government undertakes no information campaign to prevent trafficking for sexual exploitation, although it admits that prostitution is a problem. The government fails to publicize the incidence and dangers of child prostitution.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

The Dominican Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Dominican women and girls are trafficked to countries in Western Europe, Central American, the Caribbean, and South and North America for sexual exploitation. Estimates vary, but experts believe that 50,000 Dominicans have been in prostitution abroad, many having suffered some form of trafficking exploitation. The Dominican Republic is also a destination country - mainly for Haitians who are victims of trafficking for forced labor and sexual exploitation. Many Haitians working in agriculture, particularly in the sugar cane harvests, are trafficking victims. Experts estimate that 2,500-3,000 Haitian children are trafficked annually across the joint land border. Observers estimate 25,000-30,000 minors are in prostitution in the Dominican Republic; most are Dominicans, but some are Haitians. Many of these children are victimized in the sex tourism industry. The Dominican Republic is a significant transit country for many illegal migrants, including Chinese, most bound for the U.S. Some become trafficking victims as they are forced to work to repay large smuggling fees.

The Government of the Dominican Republic does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The Dominican Republic was reclassified from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in September 2003 as a result of several government initiatives, including the enactment of a new comprehensive law, the indictment of a Congressman for trafficking and the arrest of a major trafficker, and a public commitment by the Mejia administration to arrest and prosecute traffickers. Follow up on these measures has been uneven. Law enforcement results remain inadequate; police have made few new arrests and there were no convictions of traffickers. The government has removed several high-level officials from positions in which they could profit from smuggling and trafficking of persons, but has not fired them from government altogether or prosecuted them. More needs to be done. A strong point is the Foreign Affairs Ministry, which has aggressively linked its embassies to collect information on trafficking patterns in order to help victims. Due to the lack of aggressive law enforcement and the magnitude of its trafficking problem, the Dominican Republic is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
Although the Government of the Dominican Republic has established anti-trafficking police and prosecutor units, it lacks effective law enforcement. Available information is incomplete, but officials made two new arrests in the reporting period: one alleged child trafficker (Aracelis Sanchez Mora) and one trafficker arrested in October 2003. So far, neither case has gone to trial. The corruption-related prosecution of accused trafficker and Congressman Guillermo Radhames Ramos Garcia is still in the courts. Accused child trafficker Maria Martinez Nunez is still incarcerated in Najayo prison, awaiting prosecution. The military and immigration service detained over 50 suspects for infractions of the migration law, though it is unclear how many were traffickers. Most appear to have been only fined and released. Other efforts included closing down seven locations in Sos�a where children were exploited sexually by tourists. The Foreign Ministry recalled or fired several ranking Dominican diplomats for suspected complicity in smuggling and trafficking activities. None has been charged.

Protection
Facing resource constraints, the Dominican Republic lacks a comprehensive victim protection policy. Foreign victims are subject to swift deportation. Most victim assistance is provided by NGOs. The government's only shelter for trafficking victims is still not operational. A number of government officials have attended NGO-offered training programs in the past year in order to improve their understanding of the new law, which calls for victim assistance. The Foreign Ministry trains consular officers to help trafficking victims abroad.

Prevention
The government has no comprehensive policy on preventing trafficking, but increasingly officials are doing more. The Foreign Affairs Ministry has empowered several networks of consular officials abroad who are collecting and sharing information on trafficking patterns. The Attorney General is speaking out on trafficking. He states that his office has rescued 2,000 girls from brothels, but further information on these cases was not provided. The government's anti-trafficking task force has worked closely with NGOs and launched a billboard campaign, radio programming, and a variety of training sessions. Border and coastline control continues to need more attention.

ECUADOR (TIER 3)

[*Please note: Ecuador was updated to Tier 2 Watch List per President George W. Bush, Presidential Determination No. 2004-46, September 10, 2004.]

Ecuador is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Most victims are children internally trafficked for prostitution; the ILO esti-mates that 5,200 minors are engaged in the sex industry. Ecuadorians are trafficked to Western Europe, particularly Spain. Because of Ecuador's lax border controls, many illegal migrants transit the country; some of these migrants may be trafficked. More complete information, pointing to a significant number of victims, has made it possible to include Ecuador in this report for the first time.

The Government of Ecuador does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Because there has been very limited information on trafficking until the release of an ILO report in late 2003, the government is only beginning to grapple with this challenge, including a serious problem with the commercial sexual exploitation of minors. Government leaders need to develop, publicize, and implement a comprehensive anti-trafficking policy and expand efforts to work with anti-trafficking NGOs. Ecuador should update and enforce its laws and prosecute traffickers who lure minors into prostitution. Ecuador needs to devote more resources to investigations and expand cooperation with Spain and other destination countries to detect and eliminate trafficking rings.

Prosecution
The Government of Ecuador failed to make significant law enforcement efforts to directly combat trafficking in 2003. Ecuador lacks an anti-trafficking law enforcement strategy and has not con-ducted any arrests, prosecutions, or sentencing of traffickers. A number of existing laws—such as the statutes penalizing trafficking-like abuses during migrant smuggling—could be used against traffickers. In fact, the government significantly improved its arrests and prosecutions of illegal alien smugglers in 2003, which may help combat trafficking. Documented cases of Ecuadorians trafficked to Spain have not yet resulted in any law enforcement in Ecuador against the traffickers. The government should seek more assistance from Spain on these cases. Penal sanctions are not being applied against internal traffickers of minors for commercial sexual exploitation.

Protection
The national government has no general policy to assist trafficking victims, but is committed to develop a program to assist children. The government has committed to working with the ILO to combat commercial sexual exploitation of minors, including developing protection and prevention programs for victims. Due partly to resource restraints, the government currently has no national policy to operate victim shelters, or to cooperate with those that do, although the city of Quito is working with international donors to develop shelters for exploited minors. The government has no policy to assist Ecuadorians trafficked abroad, but maintains that in practice it renders assistance to any of its citizens victimized abroad and that repatriated citizens are helped on an as-needed basis. The government has no data on foreign victims and provides no training to officials on how to assist them.

Prevention
The Ecuadorian Government has no specific policies or programs to prevent trafficking. The government conducts several programs to keep children in school and to assist those at risk of child labor, but these measures are not specifically designed to prevent trafficking. In the past, the National Institute for Children and the Family conducted information campaigns in selected cities to keep minors out of the sex trade, but those measures ended in 2002.

EL SALVADOR (TIER 2)

El Salvador is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation; it is also a source country for forced labor. Salvadorans are trafficked to the United States, Canada, Mexico, and other countries in Central America. Salvadoran women and children are trafficked internally for prostitution from the rural and eastern part of the country to urban areas. Most foreign victims are women and children from Nicaragua, Honduras, and countries in South America, particularly Colombia. In some cases Salvadorans have been trafficked for commercial agriculture to the United States.

The Government of El Salvador does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. In particular, the government has failed to take effective action against underage prostitution. An effective anti-trafficking measure would be to change the law in order to make enforcement of prostitution laws fall under the National Civilian Police (PNC), rather than the less capable municipal guard forces. This measure would require the PNC to receive additional resources commensurate with this responsibility.

Prosecution
The government does not vigorously enforce existing laws that prohibit trafficking and punish traffickers. Convictions are rare. The government indicted three suspected traffickers under the country's anti-trafficking law. These prosecutions are the first under the newly reformed anti-trafficking statute. The Attorney General's office should use this and other applicable laws to more aggressively investigate, prosecute, and convict brothel owners, especially those involved in the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In 2003, police arrested 33 individuals for commercial sexual exploitation of minors, prosecutors presented 51 individuals charged with involvement in child prostitution to the courts for either their initial hearing or trial, and San Salvador courts tried 17 individuals for violating anti-prostitution laws. Of these 17, one was convicted for involvement in child prostitution. The government in 2003 carried out anti-trafficking training for police, prosecutors, and judges. The government recently revised the law against sex crimes to increase the penalties for sex offenses against children, and to sanction individuals that use electronic means to distribute pornography.

Protection
Limited by resources, the government provides reasonable protections for Salvadorans, particularly children, but it fails to adequately protect foreign trafficking victims. The government's child welfare agency (ISNA) provides protection, counseling, shelter, and legal assistance to at-risk Salvadoran children, including underage trafficking victims. During the reporting period, 69 children engaged in prostitution were turned over to ISNA's care. The government cooperates with NGOs and refers Salvadoran trafficking victims to them, but it runs no shelters specifically for trafficking victims. The government does provide funding to repatriate sick or minor Salvadorans from neighboring countries. Illegal immigrants, who may include foreign victims of trafficking, face quick deportation as a matter of policy, unless they are children.

Prevention
The government has aggressively used the media to warn the public about trafficking. With UNICEF support, the government sponsored public service ads on television warning about trafficking associated with illegal migration. The government is participating in an ILO-IPEC "Timebound" Program to eliminate the commercial sexual exploitation of children. As part of this program, the government sponsored newspaper ads warning about this sexual exploitation. With U.S. Government support, the government's child welfare agency also sponsored publicity campaigns via posters, radio, and TV that warn about child trafficking situations.

GUATEMALA (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Guatemala is a source, transit, and destination country for Guatemalan and other Central American women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation inside Guatemala and to the United States. Estimates of the total number of victims are not available, but one reliable NGO report identified 600-700 minors in centers of prostitution across Guatemala. A 2002 report by the UN Rapporteur estimated 2,000 minors in prostitution in Guatemala City alone. Trafficking for sexual exploitation also occurs across the Mexican-Guatemalan border. Mexico deported 81,000 Guatemalans in 2003; it is unknown how many may have been trafficking victims. To a lesser extent, there are reports (but no reliable estimates) of forced labor trafficking, mainly involving children used in begging rings in Guatemala City. Guatemala is also a transit country for illegal migrants from outside the region, such as Chinese; some may be trafficked.

The Government of Guatemala does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. For much of 2003, the government's anti-trafficking efforts were stagnant with almost no law enforcement efforts against traffickers. In a significant policy reversal in early 2004, the new Guatemalan administration has begun to address human trafficking in a coordinated approach, organizing police and prosecution units, conducting raids, and formulating a national strategy. The government signed an important new agreement on anti-trafficking border cooperation with Mexico. Because this assessment is based on the government's new commitments to fight trafficking at all levels over the next year, including prosecuting traffickers and addressing corruption, Guatemala is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
After a long period of inaction, Guatemala authorities have recently mobilized prosecutors and police in a new aggressive policy to arrest and prosecute traffickers. In March 2004, the police conducted a number of brothel raids and arrested several suspected traffickers. At least four accused traffickers are awaiting prosecution. In a positive sign, authorities have begun to work with leading NGOs to identify child victims in underage prostitution. The government supports proposed legislation in Congress to stiffen sanctions against traffickers and better define trafficking-related crimes. These are all important steps forward, but the new administration needs to show a long-term commitment to arresting and prosecuting traffickers as well as fighting corruption that makes trafficking possible.

Protection
The new administration has committed to putting new energy into protection efforts that had stagnated in 2003. The government works with NGOs to identify child victims and move them to shelters; these efforts are expanding as part of Guatemala's new pledge to find victims. The Secretariat of Social Welfare currently runs one temporary shelter and has pledged to open a new one in Coatepeque in San Marcos province. The government needs to improve its efforts to protect adult victims and work with them in criminal investigations. Currently, all undocumented for-eigners, including trafficking victims, are subject to deportation and given 72 hours to depart, but many stay in Guatemala.

Prevention
The new administration has pledged to give new direction to the government's interagency anti-trafficking group. Both the Secretariat for Social Communication and Immigration Service have announced plans for a public awareness campaign in 2004. A key test of the government's over-all engagement will be Guatemala's implementation of the March 2004 agreement with Mexico to work closely on a range of trafficking problems on the joint border. Another important task will be to make progress on the national plan to fight commercial sexual exploitation of children.

GUYANA (TIER 3)

[*Please note: Guyana was updated to Tier 2 Watch List per President George W. Bush, Presidential Determination No. 2004-46, September 10, 2004.]

Guyana is a country of origin, transit, and destination for young women and children trafficked primarily for sexual exploitation. Much of the trafficking takes place in the interior of the country, where observers indicate that likely over 100 persons are engaged in forced prostitution in isolated settlements. Victims are also found in prostitution centers in Georgetown and New Amsterdam. Guyanese victims originate mainly from Amerindian communities; some come from coastal urban centers. Most foreign victims are trafficked from Northern Brazil; some may also come from Venezuela. Guyana is also a transit country for victims trafficked into Suriname. More complete information, pointing to a significant number of trafficking victims, has made it possible to include Guyana in the report for the first time.

The Government of Guyana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. This is due to a lack of understanding of the problem, as well as a paucity of resources that can be dedicated to fighting the problem. Guyana is only beginning to address human trafficking, much of which occurs in regions where the government has limited authority. The government should cooperate with the international community and its neighbors to develop a comprehensive anti-trafficking policy. National laws should be modernized to keep minors out of prostitution and sanction their traffickers. Victims should be rescued. Resources should be dedicated to protecting victims and prevention.

Prosecution
Guyana does not have a comprehensive law that addresses trafficking, nor does it generally arrest or prosecute traffickers. An existing statute that addresses some aspects of trafficking was used only once in 2003, resulting in a dismissed case. Officials are not trained to detect trafficking cases, and as a result they do not distinguish trafficking from migrant smuggling activity. Guyana does not fully control its isolated borders. Priority needs to be placed on rescuing children who are sexually exploited and prosecuting their traffickers.

Protection
The government has no policy of providing protection to trafficking victims and keeps no information on them. Any protection that the government might indirectly offer to victims would be in the form of modest assistance to the homeless.

Prevention
Faced with limited resources, the government does not carry out anti-trafficking information or education campaigns, and officials are just becoming aware of the need to take steps to prevent trafficking. The government's only efforts have been modest support for a local NGO assisting women in distress.

HONDURAS (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Honduras is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation. Many victims are Honduran children trafficked from rural areas to urban and tourist centers such as San Pedro Sula, the North Caribbean coast, and the Bay Islands. Observers documented more than 1,000 minors (mostly Hondurans) that were victims of commercial sexual exploitation in 2003. Foreign victims trafficked into commercial sexual exploitation originate from Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and El Salvador. Honduran women and children are trafficked to the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, and other countries in Central America. Honduras is also a transit country for illegal migration originating outside the region. Illegal migrants, such as Chinese, are known to transit Honduras. Willingly smuggled, many are later forced into debt bondage to pay off their smuggling fees.

The Government of Honduras does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. A few committed government officials are active on trafficking issues, but results are modest, particularly in view of the large number of victims. The government continues to lag on arresting and prosecuting traffickers. For these reasons, Honduras has been placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
Honduras lacks a comprehensive law enforcement strategy and anti-trafficking law, but authorities mount occasional operations against traffickers. The government reported 11 trafficking-related arrests. In addition, authorities arrested four Chinese smugglers whose cases may include a trafficking dimension. Currently, three prosecutions are ongoing. There have been no reported convictions. Honduran police arrested international trafficker Roger Galindo in cooperation with U.S. officials. Higher priority needs to be given to arresting traffickers who operate underage brothels with impunity.

Protection
The Honduran Government lacks a plan to assist trafficking victims. Some training of immigration and consular officials to identify victims has taken place and Honduran authorities have assisted in the return of victims from Mexico and Canada. Domestically, government policy remains ad hoc. Rescued child victims are placed in shelters financed by international donors and run by NGOs, but government efforts to remove children from brothels are largely ineffective. Foreign victims of trafficking are subject to summary deportation.

Prevention
Although lacking a comprehensive prevention plan, Honduras has developed a strategy to focus on preventing the trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation. A working group of government agencies, international organizations, and NGOs developed a national plan against the commercial sexual exploitation of children and women, and has drafted legislation to strengthen the law against such crimes. This draft legislation was presented to the President of Congress on March 23, 2004. This plan includes a national awareness-raising campaign. The government supports, with international donor assistance, social and educational programs to help children in poverty. Honduras needs to increase its border monitoring efforts to interdict traffickers and rescue their victims.

JAMAICA (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Jamaica is a country of internal trafficking of children for sexual exploitation. Victims often travel from rural areas to urban and tourist centers where they are trafficked into prostitution. Child pornography involving trafficking victims is a concern on the island. The ILO estimated in 2001 that several hundred minors are involved in Jamaica's sex trade. Jamaica is also a transit country for illegal migrants moving to the U.S. and Canada; some of these migrants are believed to be trafficking victims.

The Government of Jamaica does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Lacking a specific anti-trafficking statute, Jamaican officials have been stymied in efforts to arrest and prosecute traffickers who target children. A new "Child Care and Protection Act" was passed in 2004; law enforcement officials should take steps to implement it as promptly and effectively as possible. Corruption among immigration officials in facilitating the unauthorized international movement of persons remains a concern. Because this assessment is based on the government's commitment to vigorously enforce the Child Care and Protection Act rather than on concrete actions during the reporting period, Jamaica is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
Jamaica law enforcement efforts against traffickers were weak during 2003. The government's law enforcement strategy against child sex trafficking is based upon the new Child Care and Protection Act. The government does not collect law enforcement data on trafficking. From information provided on related offenses, it is clear that few arrests or prosecutions of child sex traffickers have occurred. The government is working with the IOM to enhance its ability to detect transnational trafficking, and an island-wide passenger entry and exit system is expected to be operational in the summer of 2004. In February 2004, Jamaican authorities arrested one Canadian and two Polish nationals attempting to smuggle nine Chinese nationals from Jamaica to the Bahamas.

Protection
The government has no formal policy for protecting child trafficking victims, but they are offered the same general assistance through social services to the needy and vulnerable that are provided to other children removed from abusive situations. There are no government-funded shelters specifically for trafficking victims, but the government's Child Development Agency oversees facilities for at-risk children. The government provides funding to NGOs that work to reintegrate child laborers who are victims of trafficking.

Prevention
Government officials recognize that children in poverty are vulnerable to trafficking, but government engagement is limited by resource constraints. The government's strategy is to work with international organizations such as UNICEF and ILO to carry out public awareness campaigns that focus on child education and women's empowerment. The government participates in an ILO program to combat child commercial sexual exploitation and child labor in the tourism industry. A campaign is planned to inform the public on the new Child Care and Protection Act, which includes provisions to protect trafficking victims and prosecute offenders.

MEXICO (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Mexico is a source, transit, and destination country for persons trafficked for sexual exploitation and labor. Trafficking patterns in Mexico are diverse and complicated. Many victims are Mexican children internally trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation. Reliable estimates point to 16,000-20,000 Mexican and Central American child sex victims in Mexico, found largely in border, urban, and tourist areas. Women are also trafficked into the Mexican sex trade and a significant number are moved into the United States. Most victims are Mexican and Central American, but they also originate from the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Mexican and Central American agricultural workers have been victims of forced labor trafficking from Mexico into the U.S. There are no reliable estimates on trafficking victims or exploited laborers. Mexico is a major transit country for illegal migration into the U.S. and many cross-border trafficking victims are difficult to identify because their cases are shrouded in this clandestine transnational movement.

The Government of Mexico does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The results of Mexico's efforts to fight trafficking are mixed. Mexico needs national-level commitment to fight trafficking and a national anti-trafficking law. As with other significant transit countries, Mexico is severely challenged to identify and rescue potential trafficking victims who are in transit. The government needs to expand cooperation on both of its land borders with Guatemala and the United States to identify trafficking cases that occur as part of cross-border illegal migration. The Mexican-Guatemalan March 2004 Memorandum Of Understanding on trafficking is a good start. In view of the commitment of Mexican officials to do more to fight trafficking in the face of a significant problem, the country is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
Lacking a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, Mexico has no national law enforcement strategy to address human trafficking, but scattered criminal cases have been brought against traffickers. Much more needs to be done. Available 2003-04 federal government data indicate that there were 27 arrests made and 16 additional arrest warrants issued for sexual exploitation trafficking offenses. There was no information available on the sentencing of any traffickers for sexual exploitation in 2003. Many more arrests and prosecutions were carried out against criminal migrant smugglers, including 85 convictions, but no information is available on which, if any, of these cases involved trafficking exploitation. Mexico tends to prosecute smugglers who commit human rights abuses. Mexico's cyber-crimes unit eliminated 200 Internet sites dedicated to child pornography that exploited child trafficking victims. Mexico has also taken steps to investigate and prosecute individuals facilitating child prostitution. Corruption among some officials continues to be a significant concern, and Mexico has made efforts to investigate and prosecute corrupt officials, but still more needs to be done.

Protection
Mexico lacks an overarching government approach to protect trafficking victims, but uncoordinated policies do assist Mexican victims. For example, the government funds NGOs and runs shelters that offer basic services to Mexicans in need, including those who may have been trafficked. On the other hand, all undocumented foreigners, including potential trafficking victims, face detention and deportation. Depending on their situation, foreign minors may be given some temporary assistance.

Prevention
The government continues to display an ad hoc approach to prevention. There are some isolated successes, and other areas that call out for attention, but the efforts are meager in response to the scope of the problem. The government's social welfare agency (DIF) implements a national plan to stop child sexual exploitation. DIF carries out awareness campaigns and runs a hotline that assists exploited minors. Mexico's immigration service (INM) provides information on the human rights of foreign migrants and attempts to coordinate policies with Mexico's neighbors to deter illegal migration. But INM is overwhelmed by the number of illegal migrants in Mexico. The government's policy of immediate deportation limits its ability to investigate trafficking schemes and act to prevent them. Mexico has supported anti-trafficking policies at international forums, such as the UN Commission on Human Rights.

NICARAGUA (TIER 2)

Nicaragua is a source and transit country for women and children trafficked for sexual exploitation. Nicaraguans are trafficked from rural to urban areas within the country, and to other parts of Central America and Mexico. Most victims are Nicaraguan children prostituted by their traffickers.

The Government of Nicaragua does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government's new measures announced in 2003 to fight sex trafficking of minors are commendable, but Nicaragua continues to lack an effective law enforcement strategy. As social agencies continue the slow process of removing children in poverty from prostitution, law enforcement officials need to move much more aggressively against commercial establishments that profit from this exploitation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs should seek out Nicaraguan victims abroad and expand bilateral efforts to combat trafficking.

Prosecution
The government's new national plan to fight sexual exploitation of minors calls for law enforcement against child sex traffickers, but officials should also develop enforcement measures to address all forms of trafficking. In 2003, four traffickers were convicted: one club owner trafficker received 3-5 years in prison; three other traffickers were sentenced to four years and were required to compensate their victims. Nicaraguan law should be modernized to criminalize underage prostitution; Nicaraguan law currently permits minors aged 14-17 to engage in prostitution, which creates opportunities for traffickers.

Protection
Victim assistance is minimal for Nicaraguans and non-existent for foreigners. Foreign victims discovered illegally in the country are detained and face summary deportation. The government has understandably focused its victim protection plans on helping Nicaraguan minors in sexual exploitation. The government cooperates with NGOs in fighting sexual exploitation of minors, but there are no government shelters for such victims. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs helped two Nicaraguan victims return from Guatemala, but much work remains to be done in repatriating victims.

Prevention
In 2003, the government launched a broad strategy to combat the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The five-year plan is ambitious and its effectiveness will depend upon the sustained commitment of senior officials and resources. A broad national anti-trafficking coalition, which includes the government and NGOs, was formed in February 2004; the coalition plans to compile information about trafficking throughout the country and use the media to enhance public awareness. Facing scarce resources, most of the government's current efforts are tied to international donor funding. With this assistance, government agencies (e.g., the women's division of the national police and the Education Ministry) conduct awareness campaigns for high school students. The Immigration service and police seek to interdict international traffickers, but their efforts are complicated by the high incidence of migrant smuggling, and the fact that victims often fail to cooperate.

PANAMA (TIER 2)

Panama is a transit and destination country for women and girls, primarily from Colombia and the Dominican Republic, trafficked for sexual exploitation. Transiting victims are bound for Costa Rica and the United States via Central America. Panamanian children are trafficked internally for sexual exploitation. The production and transmission of child pornography, which involves trafficking victims, are growing concerns, along with small but organized commercial sex operations exploiting minors. Panama has a regulated commercial sex industry in which trafficking does occur. Illegal prostitution (adult and underage) is responsible for the largest percentage of victims. There are reports that Panama is a transit country for debt-bonded illegal migrants. More complete information, pointing to a significant number of victims, has made it possible to include Panama in this report for the first time.

The Government of Panama does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Panamanian officials acknowledge trafficking is a problem. The government has updated and enhanced an anti-trafficking statute in March 2004, but must sustain improvements in victim protection measures and increase regional and bilateral cooperation. Elimination of a visa program designed to bring prostitutes to Panama could enhance the government's anti-trafficking measures, but more effort is needed to combat abuses in the sex trade. Panama's new National Commission for the Prevention of Sexual Crime Exploitation must increase public awareness and provide support for increased prosecutions.

Prosecution
Panama's recently enhanced anti-trafficking law should spur an increase of investigations, arrests, and prosecutions, which up to now have only been sporadic. The Panamanian police Sex Crimes Unit made 10 arrests for trafficking-related crimes in 2003. Five of these defendants are awaiting trial. Three other high-profile traffickers had their convictions upheld by the Supreme Court (top sentence was 76 months).

Protection
Panama's updated anti-trafficking statute should help improve victim protection, which has lacked organization and resources. Victim referrals should be better organized and the referral system well publicized. The enhanced law will provide for victim compensation and foreign victims will be afforded special disposition on migration matters. Currently, there is a lack of organized data collection on victims, but the new statute requires the Commission to establish a comprehensive database. The Immigration service deported close to 400 foreign prostitutes in 2003 and officials maintain that none claimed victim status although procedures are in place for them to do so. Immigration's efforts could be enhanced by providing more transparency, for example, by ensuring that a neutral observer, such as the Ombudsman, is involved. While a number of government officials have received training on trafficking, including victim identification and protection, more training is needed at all levels.

Prevention
Prevention efforts were unorganized, but recent initiatives have increased public awareness and show promise. Many high-ranking government officials have spoken out about efforts to combat trafficking. The government had lacked a formal national education campaign, but has recently improved outreach via press conferences, radio interviews, and television programs. The government provides a victim hotline.

PARAGUAY (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Paraguay is a source country for women and children trafficked to Argentina and Spain for sexual exploitation and forced labor. Paraguayans, often poor children, are trafficked internally, from rural to urban areas. Paraguay is also a destination country for girls trafficked from neighboring countries for sexual exploitation. Trafficking in the three-border region around Ciudad del Este is an ongoing problem. Unofficial government estimates indicate over 1,000 Paraguayans are victims of trafficking internally and abroad. As more complete information on trafficking has become available, pointing to a significant number of victims, Paraguay is being included in this report for the first time.

The Government of Paraguay does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government should be commended for recognizing trafficking as a problem, but concentrated national efforts are required to prosecute traffickers and maintain law enforcement data. Paraguay should renew its cooperative efforts with Spain and Argentina to close down trafficking rings. The government should take positive steps to warn potential victims of trafficking dangers. Given the pledges of senior government officials to do more, Paraguay is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
The government has no strategy to carry out law enforcement against traffickers, although individual cases have been pursued. Paraguay has a basic anti-trafficking statute, but that and other laws that could be used against traffickers are not adequately enforced. The government does not collect data on arrests and convictions of traffickers, but has pledged to begin doing so. In a positive development in February 2004, police arrested two Taiwanese traffickers operating in the three-border area.

Protection
Government efforts to assist Paraguayan victims outside the country are limited by resource constraints. The Secretariat for Repatriations takes the lead in helping victims abroad and works with the Foreign Ministry to assist their return to Paraguay. Overall, few social services are pro-vided for Paraguayan victims of internal trafficking. Government funds help support an NGO in the three-border region that runs a hotline and a shelter for victims. The government works with the International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (ILO-IPEC) to address exploitation in the domestic work of children in Asunci�n and the sexual exploitation of children on the country's border with Argentina and Brazil.

Prevention
The government does little to prevent trafficking. Although the Secretariat for Women has programs to promote women's economic decision-making, the government does not warn women about the dangers of being trafficked for sexual exploitation to Europe or Argentina. The government has recently adopted a comprehensive national plan to protect children from internal trafficking, but is only at the beginning stages of implementing it. Paraguay does not adequately monitor its borders.

PERU (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Peru is a source country for women and children trafficked internally for sexual exploitation. Most Peruvian victims of internal trafficking are girls forced or coerced into prostitution in nightclubs, bars, and brothels. Some victims are girls trafficked as domestic servants. Most internal trafficking networks move girls from rural to urban areas; traffickers recruit victims through local, informal, and family-based contacts. Peruvians have also been trafficked to Western Europe, particularly Spain. Illegal migrants, some of whom may be trafficked, also transit Peru. More complete information on trafficking, pointing to a significant number of victims, has made it possible to include Peru in this report for the first time.

The Government of Peru does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Government officials have recently acknowledged the gravity of the country's trafficking problem and established a new multi-agency working group to coordinate state action. Officials need to develop a comprehensive national plan, revise and update statutes covering trafficking-related offenses, take law enforcement action against traffickers, improve intelligence, and initiate cooperation with inter-national destination countries such as Spain. Based on new commitments to act vigorously against trafficking, Peru is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
Peru's weak prosecution efforts improved modestly in 2003. The government does not yet have an effective anti-trafficking law enforcement policy, but is developing one. Comprehensive new anti-trafficking legislation has been drafted and is slated for expedited consideration by the legislature. In January 2004, the Ministry of Interior created an anti-trafficking unit, which conducted raids on brothels and rescued victims. Prosecutors have initiated one trafficking prosecution, which is still pending. Nationwide in 2003, 83 persons were arrested for pimping; none of these arrests has led to a prosecution. The Ministry of Interior has pledged to keep statistics on trafficking cases. Government corruption and complicity in the cross-border movement of persons remains a major problem.

Protection
Peru lacks a national strategy to provide protection for victims of trafficking. But some government protection measures are available under existing social services for crime victims in Peru. The Ministry of Women and Children runs 38 centers nationwide that provide temporary housing for female crime victims. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no policy to assist victims abroad, a serious shortcoming that should be promptly addressed.

Prevention
Peru does not have a national prevention strategy and officials have much to do, but some existing government programs, such as teaching children about commercial sexual exploitation in schools, have helped to warn potential victims. The Ministry for Women and Children runs a hotline for domestic violence (over 6,000 calls in 2003). Ministry officials are aware of trafficking and have led government efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation. These and other social assistance programs are modest steps in the right direction; the multi-agency working group is now called upon to develop and implement an aggressive and comprehensive plan.

SURINAME (TIER 2 - WATCH LIST)

Suriname is a transit and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Suriname may also be a transit country for persons trafficked for forced labor. Brazilian, Dominican and Colombian women are trafficked to Surinamese brothels. Brazilians are trafficked through Suriname and on to Europe, typically The Netherlands. Brazilian women are in prostitution in isolated mining camps in the interior of Suriname; some may be trafficking victims. Haitians are smuggled through Suriname to French Guiana, and Chinese are smuggled into and through Suriname. Some persons smuggled may become trafficking victims because they are put into forced labor to repay their smuggling debts.

The Government of Suriname does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Suriname's efforts were reclassified from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in September 2003 as a result of several government initiatives: an inter-agency working group was formed, senior government officials spoke out publicly, police conducted raids, and prosecutors and judges were trained. The results of these initial efforts have been uneven. Senior government officials seek to fight trafficking, but much work still needs to be done. Authorities are not trained to distinguish trafficking victims from illegal migrants. The government should aggressively investigate illegal migration, which often veils trafficking operations. It should also take steps to identify and prosecute traffickers and assist their victims. For these reasons, Suriname is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.

Prosecution
Suriname is struggling to implement an anti-trafficking law enforcement policy. The country lacks a comprehensive law, but outdated statutes prohibit slavery, migrant smuggling, and pimping. These statutes are not adequately enforced. From July to December 2003, police conducted 23 raids on brothels; they arrested prostitutes, but no traffickers. In July 2003, one person was prosecuted and sentenced to 11 months in jail and three years' probation for prostituting her 11-year-old daughter. No other anti-trafficking prosecutions or convictions were reported. Corruption among officials who monitor prostitution is a concern.

Protection
The government's policy on victim protection is unevenly applied. A police hotline has been established, but authorities are not trained to identify trafficking victims and often summarily deport them. Officials who monitor foreign prostitutes are concerned, first and foremost, with legal residency status, rather than screening for victims. The authorities identified no victims of trafficking in 23 raids in 2003. Instead, police detained 24 women prostitutes; 18 were deported and no trafficking victims were identified among them. The existence of extensive prostitution—illegal but tolerated—by foreign women, which takes place in urban areas and in isolated camps, suggests that victims are not being identified. The only examples of trafficking victims identified by the authorities in the past two years were four Dominican women who complained in 2002 that their travel documents were illegally held. Commendably, they were assisted and repatriated.

Prevention
Officials are aware of the need to prevent trafficking and have made some efforts to devise a national strategy, but much work still needs to be done, particularly in training government officials. The government established an inter-agency working group that includes a major NGO, and an anti-trafficking national plan is being developed. Public service announcements are being aired as of February 2004. Preventive measures will require better border control and oversight of visa issuance.

VENEZUELA (TIER 3)

Venezuela is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Brazilian and Colombian women and girls are trafficked to and through Venezuela. Venezuelans are trafficked internally for the domestic sex trade and to Western Europe, particularly Spain. Venezuelan sex tourism that encourages underage prostitution is a concern. There are reports that in border areas Venezuelans are trafficked to mining camps in Guyana for sexual exploitation and abducted by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to be used as soldiers. Venezuela is a transit country for illegal migration; some of these migrants are believed to be trafficking victims.

The Government of Venezuela does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. Due to Venezuela's current political situation, the government is not devoting serious attention or resources to trafficking in persons, which is a growing regional problem. The government carries out no anti-trafficking law enforcement; it has no victim protection policy. For these reasons, Venezuela is being reclassified from Tier 2 to Tier 3.

Prosecution
The government has no pro-active law enforcement strategy to combat trafficking. Human rights organizations and police have received some complaints about trafficking, but Venezuelan authorities maintain they have not identified a widespread problem. There were no reported arrests or convictions of traffickers in the context of internal underage prostitution or international trafficking in 2003. Venezuelan officials acknowledged that at least one human trafficking accusation was brought to their attention by the Spanish police, but stated that they found no evidence that a crime had taken place. Current information available from Spanish and Brazilian official sources indicates more cooperation with Venezuela is needed to investigate trafficking. For example, the Spanish police liberated at least 14 Venezuelans in forced prostitution in Spain in 2003. A major Brazilian study identifies 10 international trafficking routes into Venezuela. The anti-trafficking border agreement signed between Brazilian and Venezuelan authorities in 2003 ("Pact of Pacaraima") is a good start. Draft legislation addressing organized crime could potentially enhance Venezuelan's anti-trafficking efforts. In addition, penal code articles 174 and 389 prohibit and punish any form of slavery.

Protection
The government has no policy to protect trafficking victims. The government administers three shelters for battered women, including a telephone hotline, but officials keep no information on whether any trafficking victims find shelter there. The government does not train officials in identifying or rescuing victims. In the past, Venezuelan border officials summarily deported undocumented foreigners. The government is not aware if any of the deportees were trafficking victims, but automatic deportations of undocumented individuals are becoming less common due to the collaboration of Venezuelan border officials with the regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is based in Caracas.

Prevention
The government does not formally acknowledge trafficking as a significant problem and conducts no information or education campaigns. The government provides some support for programs to empower women economically. To its credit, the government has removed immigration officials involved in human smuggling, which often can be linked to human trafficking. But Venezuela's long porous borders facilitate the movement of trafficked persons into and through the country and require better government control.

[This is a mobile copy of IV. Country Narratives: Western Hemisphere]