CHILE: Tier 1
Chile is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Chilean women and children are exploited in sex trafficking within the country, as are women and girls from other Latin American countries and Asia. Men, women, and children—primarily from other Latin American countries, as well as Asia—are exploited in forced labor in mining; agriculture; construction; street vending; the hospitality, restaurant, and garment sectors; and in domestic service. Authorities report Chinese immigrants may be vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor and Korean women are subjected to sex trafficking. Chilean authorities identified 260 children involved in illicit activities in 2015, including drug trafficking and theft; some of these children may have been trafficking victims. Chilean men were reported to be transported to Peru for the purposes of labor exploitation and Chilean women to Argentina for commercial sexual exploitation. Some Chilean women may be exploited in sex trafficking in other countries. NGOs report brothels in small towns are often frequented by police officers, dissuading potential trafficking victims from reporting exploitation. The government noted that traffickers, aware of law enforcement crackdowns on human trafficking, are changing their operations, including avoiding direct involvement in illegal activities, setting up work contracts for victims through third parties, and establishing shell companies to justify illicit gains.
The Government of Chile fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Authorities convicted sex traffickers under child prostitution statutes, increased victim protection services to child sex trafficking victims, and created a separate fund to assist immigrants in vulnerable situations, including victims of trafficking. In April 2015, the government enacted a law to strengthen protections for domestic workers. Authorities increased training for front-line responders, including health workers and phone operators. Authorities did not prosecute internal child sex trafficking cases as human trafficking, which hindered efforts to penalize traffickers appropriately and accurately assess anti-trafficking efforts.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CHILE:
Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute all forms of human trafficking, including internal child sex trafficking, under law 20507, and convict and penalize traffickers with sufficiently stringent sentences, ordering victim restitution as appropriate; expand access to specialized shelters for victims, including male victims and victims outside the capital; continue training for front-line responders in victim identification and implementation of the victim assistance protocol; implement mechanisms requiring that cases of pimping of children be referred to specialized anti-trafficking police and prosecutors, and issue guidance to law enforcement and members of the judiciary clarifying that third-party prostitution of children is trafficking; strengthen law enforcement’s capability to investigate trafficking cases outside the capital through training and resources, especially for potential forced labor and domestic servitude; develop guidelines for officials to screen for trafficking indicators for children involved in illicit activities; improve data collection; and enhance interagency coordination mechanisms and communication with NGOs.
The government maintained its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Law 20507 prohibits all forms of human trafficking, prescribing penalties ranging from five years and one day to 15 years’ imprisonment, plus fines, for trafficking offenses. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Chilean officials continued to investigate and prosecute many internal child sex trafficking cases under article 367 of the penal code, which penalizes promoting or facilitating the prostitution of minors. Penalties for this crime range from three to five years’ imprisonment, which are not commensurate with those for other serious crimes. In practice, judges often suspended or commuted sentences.
Anti-trafficking police units opened investigations of seven new sex trafficking and eight new labor trafficking cases in 2015. Authorities prosecuted 91 individuals for facilitating the prostitution of children; the government used the anti-trafficking law to prosecute only three cases of trafficking of adults. In 2014, the government initiated 115 prosecutions for facilitating prostitution of children and three prosecutions under the anti-trafficking law. The government did not report any convictions in 2015 under the trafficking law, and convicted three traffickers in 2015 under article 367. Two of those convicted were given sentences of three years’ imprisonment and one a sentence of daily overnight imprisonment. Convicted traffickers under article 367 were at times released on parole or given suspended sentences. In comparison, in 2014 authorities convicted five sex traffickers using the anti-trafficking law and 22 under article 367. During the previous reporting period, authorities investigated a former deputy police chief for involvement in the commercial sexual exploitation of children while in office. As of the end of the reporting period, the case was still under investigation. The government did not report any prosecutions or convictions of government officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking offenses during 2015. The government provided specialized training on trafficking to more than 520 government officials in 2015, including law enforcement, prosecutors, justice officials, social workers, health workers and labor inspectors, often in partnership with NGOs and international organizations. The public prosecutor’s office maintained an active anti-trafficking working group made up of specialized units at the national office. In June 2015, the public prosecutor’s office strengthened trafficking case management by providing additional guidelines for investigating human trafficking cases and designating a human trafficking coordinator in each regional office. The human trafficking coordinator will notify and coordinate new cases with specialized units at the national office to ensure its assignment to prosecutors with trafficking experience or experience prosecuting other complex or transnational crimes. In addition, the new guidelines also emphasized the importance of seeking international cooperation in transnational cases, and the prohibition of conditional pardons as a procedural means to an abbreviated criminal process. Authorities staffed a trafficking and smuggling investigative police unit in Santiago with 24 detectives; a similar unit in Iquique, with 11 detectives, had jurisdiction from Chile’s northern border to Copiapo. The interagency taskforce acknowledged that the lack of legal representation for victims, particularly for those seeking restitution via civil lawsuits, was a challenge. Law enforcement reported that lack of qualified translators and interpretation services hampered some trafficking investigations with foreign victims.
Authorities increased victim protection efforts. Authorities identified 65 trafficking victims during the year, compared with 16 in 2014; 53 were labor trafficking victims, and 12 were exploited in sex trafficking. Most child sex trafficking victims were identified as victims under article 367, and the National Service for Minors (SENAME) assisted 1,285 children involved in commercial sexual exploitation in 2015. The National Service for Women (SERNAM) shelter, which provides specialized services for trafficking victims, assisted 10 women, including nine foreigners from Bolivia, Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil, China, South Africa, and Syria. The Social Action Department of the Ministry of Interior created a separate fund to assist trafficking victims and other immigrants in vulnerable situations. Authorities continued to use an interagency victim assistance protocol, which established guidelines and responsibilities for government agencies in trafficking victim care, but law enforcement officials lacked guidelines for dealing with potential trafficking victims detained or placed in protective custody for alleged criminal acts, such as children involved in illicit activities.
Provision of victim services remained uneven across the country. The government funded several NGOs to assist adult labor and sex trafficking victims, although NGOs reported funding was inadequate to provide all necessary services, especially shelter. There were no shelters for male victims or victims outside the capital. SERNAM maintained its 2014 budget allocation of 85 million Chilean pesos ($140,000) to fund the NGO-operated shelter for women victims of trafficking, smuggled women, and their children. The shelter facilitated health, migration, and employment services. SENAME provided services to child sex trafficking victims through its national network of 17 NGO-operated programs for children, including boys, subjected to commercial sexual exploitation. SENAME increased this funding to 2.276 billion Chilean pesos ($3.47 million) in 2015 from 1.539 billion Chilean pesos ($2.54 million) in 2014. Specialized assistance for male victims was limited. Reintegration services such as education and job placement assistance remained lacking, and officials reported access to quality mental health services was expensive and limited. The Department of Migration created a specific no-fee visa for trafficking victims and issued 35 in 2015. The visa is valid for six months, renewable for up to two years. Renewal requires the victim denounce the crime to the prosecutor’s office. Also, the government streamlined access to temporary visa services in the Santiago Metropolitan Region. The government did not report granting restitution to any victims through civil or criminal cases in 2015. There were no reports the government penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.
The government increased prevention efforts during the reporting period. The Ministry of Interior continued to lead the anti-trafficking interagency taskforce—which included government agencies, as well as international organizations and local NGOs—and its three sub-commissions. The taskforce developed and adopted a 2015-2018 national action plan. For the second year, the taskforce published a statistical report, with trafficking in persons data from 2014 and the first half of 2015. While there has been an improvement in interagency cross-referencing and sharing of data, better coordination was still needed. A new law strengthened protections for domestic workers, including by requiring registration of domestic worker contracts, setting limits on weekly hours, and authorizing labor inspectors to enter employers’ homes, with their permission, or to require their appearance at a labor inspection office. The government launched the “Blue Campaign,” a website to combat human trafficking, and a video campaign to commemorate the UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The government continued to conduct awareness efforts, including prevention campaigns focused on reducing demand for commercial sexual exploitation of children. Authorities provided anti-trafficking training to Chilean troops prior to their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping missions. The Ministry of Interior signed a memorandum of understanding with its counterpart in Ecuador, on prevention and criminal investigation of trafficking and assistance and protection of victims. The government took action to reduce child sex tourism by training 823 hotel employees and tour operators in all the regions, with an inaugural activity timed to coincide with Chile’s hosting of the Copa America soccer tournament. The government took actions to reduce demand for commercial sex involving children by opening 26 prosecutions and handing down 23 convictions against individuals who purchased sex from children during the reporting period. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. The government piloted an online anti-trafficking course for its diplomatic personnel.