PERU: Tier 2
Peru is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Indigenous Peruvians are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Peruvian women and girls, and to a lesser extent boys, are exploited in sex trafficking within the country. Women and girls exploited near mining communities are often indebted due to the cost of transportation and unable to leave due to remoteness of camps and complicity of miners in their exploitation. Peruvian women and children are exploited in sex trafficking in other countries, particularly within South America, and women and girls from neighboring countries are found in sex trafficking in Peru. Child sex tourism is present in areas such as Cuzco, Lima, and the Peruvian Amazon. Peruvian men, women, and children are exploited in forced labor within the country, principally in informal gold mining and related services, logging, agriculture, brick-making, the informal sector, and domestic service. Peruvians working in artisanal gold mines experience forced labor, including through deceptive recruitment, debt bondage, restricted freedom of movement or inability to leave, withholding of or nonpayment of wages, and threats and use of physical violence. Forced child labor occurs in begging, street vending, and criminal activities, including cocaine production and transportation. The terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, recruits children and adults to serve as combatants and in the illicit narcotics trade. Peruvian men, women, and children are found in forced labor in other South American countries, the United States, and other countries. Peru is a destination for forced labor victims from other countries, including labor trafficking victims in the fishing industry. Third country migrants transiting through Peru to Brazil were reportedly vulnerable to trafficking. Government officials, NGOs, and victims report police extort nightclub and brothel owners using the threat of sex trafficking charges; falsely charge victims trying to escape bars or brothels with crimes such as theft; and force victims to sign declarations absolving their traffickers. Officials and NGOs report police officers extort women in prostitution, threatening to arrest them for trafficking; this intimidation serves as a disincentive for victims to report their exploitation. Some officials’ involvement in the mining industry poses a conflict of interest that impedes law enforcement action against trafficking in mining areas. Some officials reportedly accept money to drop charges or exonerate traffickers. There were reports police in the anti-trafficking unit accepted traffickers’ bribes.
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. The government opened a dedicated shelter for child sex trafficking victims, increased staff in the anti-trafficking police unit, and established a dedicated prosecutorial unit in Lima in 2014. Trafficking-related complicity remained a serious and largely unaddressed problem as authorities reported no new prosecutions or any convictions of complicit officials. Efforts to identify and assist forced labor victims and to prosecute and convict labor traffickers remained inadequate. Victim services remained limited. Government data on human trafficking was unreliable.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PERU:
Increase funding for and access to specialized, comprehensive services for all victims, including adults and victims outside the capital, in partnership with NGOs; follow through on investigations of trafficking-related complicity by prosecuting and convicting officials guilty of such crimes; significantly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders, especially for forced labor; initiate proactive labor trafficking investigations through enhanced partnerships between law enforcement officials, labor officials, and civil society organizations; create and implement victim-centered identification and referral mechanisms that focus on avoiding re-victimization and coordinating interagency efforts, including during law enforcement operations; establish systematic training efforts to improve victim identification by government officials; verify through ongoing oversight that police and prosecutors conduct intelligence-based raids and employ effective victim screening and referrals; dedicate funding in ministry and regional government budgets to carry out anti-trafficking responsibilities; and improve data collection.
The government made uneven progress on prosecution efforts. Law 28950 prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, prescribing penalties of eight to 25 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. This law was modified in 2014 to clarify the definition of trafficking. The law diverges from the 2000 UN TIP Protocol by penalizing illegal adoption and the sale of organs as trafficking. Some police, prosecutors, and judges classified trafficking cases as other crimes, such as pimping or enabling prostitution, which carry lower penalties. Judges often downgraded trafficking charges to lesser charges related to prostitution and frequently failed to sentence traffickers for aggravated trafficking in cases involving child victims, as required by law.
Data collection was uneven, and law enforcement officials continued to conflate adult prostitution and sex trafficking, making data unreliable. Prosecutors reported opening 105 trafficking investigations and initiating prosecutions of 20 individuals for trafficking in 2014. The government reported convicting 19 traffickers under the trafficking statute, a significant decrease from 41 traffickers convicted in 2013. Authorities did not report how many of these convictions were for forced labor, how many were prior convictions upheld by appeals courts, or if any were for illegal adoption or sale of organs. Authorities did not report the range of sentences or how many sentences were suspended. Investigations, prosecutions, and convictions for forced labor appeared to remain low relative to the size of the problem. The anti-trafficking and anti-smuggling police unit was based in the capital, with a smaller branch in Iquitos. In 2014, the government increased the unit’s staff in Lima and raised it to the level of a directorate. The directorate’s ability to conduct victim-centered operations, particularly outside Lima, remained hampered by limited resources and staff turnover. Some police reportedly have asked victims’ families for money to do police work, including raids. Authorities launched an anti-trafficking prosecutorial unit with jurisdiction over Lima. Police and prosecutors coordinated poorly and lacked expertise, compromising efforts to rescue victims and investigate cases. In some areas, a lack of government presence, absence of victim services, and officials’ fear of traffickers hampered law enforcement efforts. Some police and prosecutors blamed victims for their exploitation or categorized trafficking cases as labor infractions or runaway youth. In partnership with NGOs and an international organization, officials provided training to police, prosecutors, and other officials. Authorities coordinated with foreign governments on trafficking investigations.
In 2014, authorities investigated two police officers accused of collaborating with traffickers and raping a child victim. In February 2015, prosecutors closed the investigation of a congressman for running a motel where child sex trafficking occurred. The government removed two prosecutors from office in 2014 for covering up a trafficking case. Criminal charges remained pending against two prosecutors who had been temporarily suspended in 2012 for accepting money from a trafficker. An investigation initiated during the previous reporting period of a police commander arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe to ignore human trafficking remained ongoing. The government did not report any prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking.
The government made limited progress in victim protection, though most victims lacked access to specialized services. Authorities did not employ systematic procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and did not maintain reliable victim identification statistics. Some officials appeared to fail to identify labor trafficking victims and distinguish between women engaged in prostitution and sex trafficking victims. Some police and prosecutors expected adult victims to self-identify in front of other potential victims and traffickers during raids. Based on incomplete police data, police identified 165 potential trafficking victims in 2014; of these, 140 were adults and 25 children, and 152 were female and 13 male. This represents a significant decrease from 664 potential victims police reported identifying in 2013. Ministry of Defense officials reported identifying six children and six adults subjected to forced labor by the Shining Path in 2014.
The government had no formal process for referring trafficking victims to services, and it was unclear how many total victims received which services, including shelter. The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP) reported assisting 177 trafficking victims, including 122 girls, 17 boys, 38 women, and no men; the cases of adult women appeared to include women engaged in prostitution. Shelter and specialized psychological, employment, and other services remained unavailable in most areas and for most adults and labor trafficking victims. Several ministries had victim assistance protocols, some of which were published in 2014, though most were implemented unevenly. MIMP was required by law to coordinate and provide services to trafficking victims in partnership with regional governments, but lacked funding or capacity to fulfill this mandate. MIMP had a budget of 752,000 soles ($260,000) to implement its protection responsibilities for victims. After gathering testimony, police often sent victims home, at times relying on NGOs or traffickers for funding, instead of referring them to care services, often because those services did not exist. MIMP opened the first dedicated shelter for girl victims of sex trafficking; this shelter provided services to 14 victims in 2014. In December 2014, MIMP assisted a municipal government in Madre de Dios to use an inoperative government shelter to provide services to female victims of violence, including trafficking; it reported assisting two trafficking victims. Many government shelters for vulnerable children lacked space to house victims. Likewise, government emergency centers for women provided no shelter and no specialized services for victims. Authorities did not report how many Peruvian victims abroad they assisted or repatriated in 2014, and funding for reintegration was lacking.
The prosecutorial program for victims and witnesses assisted 144 trafficking victims in 2014. Authorities were required to provide victims with a public defender during prosecutions of traffickers, but did not report how many victims received this assistance in 2014. Victims often received inadequate protection and assistance during judicial processes, and many victims experienced aggressive questioning without an attorney or family member present. Some officials did not sufficiently protect the privacy of trafficking victims. The government did not report any victims receiving restitution. There were no reports of the government penalizing victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. Foreign victims were eligible for temporary and permanent residency status under Peruvian refugee law, but the government did not report how many victims, if any, received this status in 2014.
The government maintained prevention efforts. The interagency committee, which also included NGOs and international organizations, met regularly, though participants reported that some ministries did not fully participate. The committee issued an annual report on anti-trafficking efforts. The government had a separate commission and inter-ministerial plan and protocol against forced labor, which lacked a budget for implementation. Twenty-two regional governments maintained anti-trafficking working groups, which varied in effectiveness and some of which relied on NGOs for coordination. Most government entities lacked adequate funding to implement their duties as outlined in the national anti-trafficking action plan. Various ministries conducted awareness-raising efforts, often in partnership with international organizations and NGOs and with foreign donor funding. Some of these efforts focused on preventing child sex tourism. The labor inspection unit focused on child and forced labor, established in 2013, did not identify any forced labor victims in 2014. Authorities did not report prosecutions or convictions of child sex tourists in 2014. The government took efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts involving children in partnership with civil society, but did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel. The government provided Peruvian peacekeepers with specific training on human trafficking prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.