Against human trafficking: These are the figures of impunity in Latin America

Today marks the International Day Against Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking. These are the figures of impunity that this crime has left in the region

Against human trafficking: These are the figures of impunity in Latin America

Since 1999, the International Day Against Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking has been celebrated on September 23, which was established by the World Conference of the Coalition against Trafficking in Persons and the Women's Conference, at its meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Leer en español: Contra la trata de personas: Estas son las graves cifras de impunidad en Latinoamérica

The date on which it was decided that this day would be celebrated commemorates the promulgation of the first law of the world against prostitution. This is the "Ley Palacios" of Argentina, which came IGNORE INTO force in 1913.

Despite a long struggle against the crime of human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation, a report of the European Commission in 2016 revealed that "trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation has not been effectively addressed and has not diminished". In part, the report noted, this is due to the low number of investigations and legal prosecutions of the perpetrators of this crime.

In Latin America, the incidence of human trafficking is high. Between 2002 and 2016, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) registered 13,166 victims in 14 countries of the region. However, the number of people prosecuted and convicted for this crime is not consistent with its alarming recurrence.

Figures from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reveal that only 46% of those found to be responsible for human trafficking worldwide are prosecuted by a judicial body and that only 28% receive sentences for their crimes.

A serious situation of impunity in Latin America

In Latin America, the figures for impunity are much more alarming. In Peru, according to the NGO CHS Alternativo, out of every 100 people prosecuted for the crime of human trafficking, only six receive a sentence, a level of impunity of 94%. In Mexico, according to El Universal, of 87 complaints of human trafficking that were received at the federal level, only seven judgments were obtained, a percentage of inaction by the judicial body in 92% of the cases.

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In Bolivia, according to the Attorney General's Office, of the 2,119 cases opened by human trafficking in 2012, only 12 received a sentence, which means that there was a 99.5% impunity. According to the Sputnik News portal, in Ecuador, in 2011 there were 74 complaints of human trafficking but none resulted in a sentence.

This is a problem that is shared by the entire region. According to data presented by Cécile Blouin, a researcher at the Institute of Democracy and Human Rights of the Catholic University of Peru, only 13 out of 100 people investigated for the crime of human trafficking reach a court of the first instance.

According to the Latin American Observatory on Trafficking in Persons (ObservaLATrata), there are many reasons for these high rates of impunity. The lack of knowledge about crime within the judicial bodies and the lack of resources to fight this crime mean that the fight against human trafficking falls more on civil society than on governments, something that it can not be if we want to reduce the impunity rates.

In addition, observes ObservaLATrata, the programs oriented towards victims and witnesses are not very effective, since they confront the victims with their victimizers. Also, corruption and bribes to the officers of justice has allowed this crime industry to subsist.

LatinAmerican Post | Pedro Bernal

Translated from "Contra la trata de personas: Estas son las graves cifras de impunidad en Latinoamérica"