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, often recruited through false employment offers. Women and girls exploited in sex trafficking near mining communities are often indebted due to the cost of transportation and unable to leave due to remoteness of camps and the demand for commercial sex by miners in these communities. 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 in the country, principally in gold mining and related services, logging, agriculture, brick-making, unregistered factories, organized street begging, and domestic service. A public report revealed 17 percent of the cases of 3,911 known Peruvian trafficking victims involved male victims, and government officials and NGOs also acknowledged male victims of forced labor or bonded labor in illegal mining. Peruvians working in artisanal gold mines and nearby makeshift camps that provide the miners services experience forced labor, including through deceptive recruitment; debt bondage; restricted freedom of movement or inability to leave; withholding of or non-payment of wages; and threats and use of physical violence. Forced child labor occurs in begging, street vending, cocaine production and transportation, and other criminal activities. The terrorist group Sendero Luminoso, or Shining Path, recruits children using force and coercion to serve as combatants and children and adults into the illicit narcotics trade and domestic servitude. The ombudsman’s office reported no cases of underage recruits in the Peruvian military in 2015. Peruvian men, women, and children are found in forced labor in other South American countries, the United States, and other countries. Migrants from South America, China, and Senegal transiting Peru to Brazil were reportedly vulnerable to trafficking.
The Government of Peru does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government established specialized anti-trafficking regional prosecutor offices in Callao, Cusco, Lima, Loreto, Puno, Tacna, and Tumbes; increased anti-trafficking operations and arrests; increased efforts to identify and assist victims; and investigated and convicted sex tourists. However, official complicity in trafficking and related crimes as well as overall corruption undermines government efforts to combat human trafficking. Convicted traffickers received sentences insufficient to the gravity of their crimes. Detention of trafficking victims discourages victims from coming forward and cooperating with authorities. The government made inadequate efforts to identify and assist forced labor victims and to prosecute labor traffickers. Overlapping government data on trafficking victims and prosecutions made interagency coordination difficult.
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 law enforcement efforts, increasing anti-trafficking operations and arrests, but decreasing prosecutions and convictions. Article 153 of the penal code prohibits all forms of trafficking in persons, prescribing penalties of eight to 15 years’ imprisonment, which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The law defines exploitation more broadly than the international definition by including all forms of labor exploitation, rather than forced labor or services, and “any other similar form of exploitation”. Peruvian law also criminalizes profiting from sex trafficking and prescribes penalties of three to eight years’ imprisonment or eight to 12 years’ imprisonment if the victims is a child younger than 14 or the victim is the spouse or child of the individual profiting. Peru criminalizes promoting the prostitution of others and prescribes penalties of two to five years’ imprisonment. The penalty is raised to four to five years’ imprisonment if the victim is younger than 18, the offender uses violence, the offender is a relative of the victim, or the victim is forcibly displaced from home. Article 168 of the penal code criminalizes an employer’s threats to life, health or physical health of employees and prescribes a penalty of one to four years’ imprisonment or four to eight years’ imprisonment in case of death or grave injuries. Some police and prosecutors 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 promoting prostitution and frequently failed to sentence traffickers for aggravated trafficking in cases involving child victims, as required by law. The government recognized the problem of downgraded charges and provided training to police and judges on the definition of trafficking.
The government recognized the need for data standardization to ensure Peru accurately reflects anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts and acknowledged that different ministries collect overlapping statistics, which they are currently unable to disaggregate. The Ministry of Interior conducted 85 trafficking operations compared with 24 in 2014, and arrested 206 potential traffickers compared with 59 in 2014. The attorney general reported opening 259 trafficking cases compared with 114 in 2014 and initiating prosecutions of 15 individuals for trafficking compared with 20 individuals in 2014. The government reported convicting four traffickers under the trafficking statute, a decrease from 19 traffickers convicted in 2014. Authorities did not report the lengths of sentences or how many sentences were suspended.
Government officials, NGOs, and victims report police used extortion for personal gain by threatening nightclub and brothel owners with sex trafficking charges; falsely charging victims trying to escape bars or brothels with crimes such as theft or trafficking; forcing victims to sign declarations absolving their traffickers, in exchange for payment from the alleged trafficker or due to personal complicity; and accepting money to cease investigations, drop charges, or exonerate traffickers. Some officials’ involvement in the mining industry posed a conflict of interest that impeded law enforcement action against trafficking in mining areas. Congress expelled a member for 120 days following an investigation for allegedly operating a hotel where child sex trafficking occurred. However, the government did not report any prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking, and the member returned to Congress later in the year.
In August 2015, the government established specialized anti-trafficking regional prosecutor offices in Callao, Cusco, Lima, Loreto, Puno, Tacna, and Tumbes. Poor communication and coordination between police and prosecutors compromised efforts to rescue victims and investigate cases. The government’s efforts to combat trafficking were hindered by coordination problems between the national and regional levels of government on consistent implementation of the new criminal procedure code; inadequate budgets; corruption in the criminal justice system; and rapid turnover in the police force. The ombudsman’s office reported judges applied lower sentences than prescribed in the anti-trafficking law for cases involving minor victims. In partnership with NGOs and an international organization, officials trained police, prosecutors, and other officials. Authorities coordinated with foreign governments on trafficking investigations. In 2015, authorities continued to detain, prosecute, and administratively discipline two police officers accused of collaborating with traffickers and raping a child victim.
The government significantly increased efforts to identify and assist trafficking victims, including forced labor victims; however, most victims lacked access to specialized services. The anti-trafficking law (law 28950) required the government to assist and protect victims by providing temporary lodging, transportation, medical, psychological, and legal assistance, as well as help in re-adapting the victim to family and society. The law also has provisions for witness protection, including new identities, safe houses, police protection, and new jobs. The government opened 22 new emergency centers for women and operated 48 residential centers for children and adolescents, which provided some of these services. The government operated two shelters exclusively for trafficking victims that assisted 119 victims during the reporting period. The government maintained a registry of NGOs able to assist trafficking victims with shelter and other assistance. The government had not fulfilled its mandate to provide these social services for all crime victims, including trafficking victims.
The anti-trafficking law assigns responsibility for victim identification to several government ministries. Police identified 699 potential trafficking victims—589 adults and 110 children—in 2015 compared with 165 potential trafficking victims in 2014. Government officials identified 54 indigenous individuals—20 adults and 34 children—subjected to forced labor by the Shining Path in 2015; they were referred to NGOs for shelter, food, medical attention, and reunification with their families. The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP) assisted 505 trafficking victims in 2015, 286 females and 209 males, in 2015, compared with 177 victims—122 girls, 17 boys, 38 women, and no men—in 2014. Seventy-two trafficking victims received legal services. The attorney general’s office trained other government officials to differentiate sex trafficking victims from those engaged voluntarily in prostitution based on whether the individual had access to identity documents and a required public health certificate.
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, and spent 2,764,900 soles ($866,750) on victim services and prevention. According to the UN, the government treats foreign national trafficking victims as refugees, and the UN assists victims in filing a complaint with appropriate Peruvian officials and places victims in the government’s care to support the victim during the judicial process. Authorities did not assist and reintegrate any Peruvian victims abroad in 2015, and there was a lack of funding for reintegration.
The prosecutorial program for victims and witnesses assisted 505 trafficking victims in 2015, compared with 144 victims assisted in 2014. The government was required to provide a public defender for trafficking victims to safeguard the victims’ legal rights, support through the attorney general’s victim and witness protection and assistance program, and a single-interview process using specialized equipment where available. Despite such protections, experts reported the criminal justice system sometimes revealed victims’ names and other information, which undermined victim safety and confidentiality. The government did not report any victims receiving restitution. Authorities sometimes detained victims in local police stations for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human 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 2015.
The government sustained prevention efforts. The interagency committee, which also included NGOs and international organizations, met regularly, although participants reported that some ministries did not fully participate. The committee continued to implement the 2011–2016 national anti-trafficking action plan, and devoted 8,533,670 soles ($2,675,130) to combat trafficking in persons in 2015. The committee had not issued an annual report on anti-trafficking efforts at the close of the reporting period. The government had a separate commission and inter-ministerial protocol and plan against forced labor, which established a registry of employers and workers; reiterated worker rights to health and pension plans; provided the authority to conduct labor inspections at employment agencies; improved prevention processes and victim response mechanisms for victims of child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking; and required employment agencies to become certified for operation. The new protocol resulted in registration of employers and workers and the identification of 116 children working illegally in Lima, Loreto, and Tumbes who may have been vulnerable to forced labor. The government held workshops on how agencies should address forced labor cases, monitor forced labor risk factors, and establish strategies to identify victims and provide victim services. Twenty-three regional governments maintained anti-trafficking working groups and 18 established regional plans, 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 2015. The government worked closely with U.S. law enforcement to arrest six individuals—five Peruvians and one American—engaged in sex tourism and trafficking and identified 36 victims, including 11 minors. The Peruvian attorney general’s office is handling the prosecution and, if convicted, the defendants face a minimum of 25 years in prison. In addition, authorities cooperated with U.S. law enforcement to prosecute two American citizens for acts of child sex tourism with Peruvian children in 2013, one of whom pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The government, in partnership with civil society, took efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts involving children, but did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel. The government provided Peruvian peacekeepers with specific training on human trafficking prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions.