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, including Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia. Men, women, and children, primarily from Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Colombia, and Ecuador, have been identified as forced labor victims in Chile’s mining, agricultural, and hospitality sectors, and in domestic service. Authorities report that Chinese immigrants may also be vulnerable to both sex trafficking and forced labor. Chilean authorities continued to identify an increasing number of children involved in illicit activities, including the transportation of illegal drugs; some of these children may have been coerced or forced.
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. During the year, the government strengthened law enforcement efforts, particularly by achieving its first convictions under the 2011 trafficking law, and by enhancing the capacity of the dedicated investigative police. Authorities increased specialized services through opening a dedicated shelter for adult female trafficking victims and continued to provide services to children in commercial sexual exploitation. Specialized services for male victims remained limited, victim identification and assistance guidelines were lacking, and authorities had yet to convict a forced labor offender.
Recommendations for Chile: Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute all forms of human trafficking and convict and punish trafficking offenders; strengthen victim protection efforts for male as well as female victims, and ensure victims’ access to shelters and comprehensive services through increased funding for these services; create and implement formal victim identification and referral protocols for front-line responders; continue to strengthen law enforcement’s capability to proactively investigate trafficking cases outside the capital, especially involving potential forced labor and domestic servitude; expediently issue temporary visas to foreign trafficking victims to ensure they receive necessary services; improve data collection; and continue to enhance interagency coordination mechanisms and communication with NGOs, particularly at the working level.
The Government of Chile enhanced its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the year by strengthening the dedicated police unit, achieving the first convictions under the 2011 anti-trafficking law, and continuing to prosecute and convict child sex trafficking offenders. Chilean law prohibits all forms of human trafficking, prescribing penalties ranging from five years and a day in prison to 15 years’ imprisonment, plus fines, for trafficking offenses. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Officials continued to investigate and prosecute many internal child sex trafficking cases as commercial sexual exploitation of minors or pimping, pre-existing crimes which can carry lower sentences. During the year, authorities increased staffing and resources for the trafficking and smuggling investigative police unit, which had been limited to investigating crimes in the capital area. Authorities recognized the need for increased data collection and sharing.
During the reporting period, police investigated at least 16 sex trafficking and two labor trafficking cases. The government initiated at least 158 trafficking prosecutions, including 16 for labor trafficking and 15 for sex trafficking of adults, though the majority involved child sex trafficking. In 2012, Chilean courts achieved the first convictions under its 2011 anti-trafficking law, convicting four trafficking offenders for internal and transnational sex trafficking; sentences ranged from five to 15 years’ imprisonment, with the lowest sentence suspended and served as immediate parole. Prosecutors also convicted one trafficker under Chile’s previous transnational sex trafficking statute with a sentence of 185 days deemed already served in preventive detention. In addition, authorities reported convicting 22 trafficking offenders under statutes prohibiting the facilitation or promotion of prostitution of children but did not report the range of sentences for these convictions. This compares with 34 sex trafficking convictions achieved in 2011.
There were no reported investigations or prosecutions of public officials for alleged complicity in human trafficking-related offenses. During the year, authorities provided specialized training on trafficking for law enforcement officials, social workers, and other government officials, often in partnership with NGOs and international organizations. NGOs reported that some government agencies responsible for providing victim assistance lacked adequate training. Law enforcement officials collaborated on transnational trafficking investigations with other governments.
The Chilean government strengthened protection efforts during the year through opening a dedicated shelter for adult female victims, but NGOs reported a need for more specialized services, and authorities lacked guidelines for proactive victim identification and assistance. The government did not employ systematic procedures to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations or to refer them to services, though some agencies reported use of guidelines for victim identification. Prosecutors reported identifying 95 trafficking victims during the year. It is likely that many child sex trafficking victims were identified as victims of different crimes, as officials reported assisting 1,209 children in commercial sexual exploitation in 2012.
Chilean law mandates the provision of medical care, psychological counseling, and witness protection services to adult victims of trafficking who assist in trafficking investigations, and authorities reported providing these services in 2012. It was unclear what services the 95 identified victims received, though prosecutors reported spending the equivalent of approximately $8,000 to assist trafficking victims. Authorities drafted a victim assistance protocol during the year. In August 2012, authorities opened a dedicated shelter for female adult victims of trafficking; the government funded a NGO-administered shelter housing 15 foreign victims during the reporting period, including two forced labor victims. This open shelter facilitated health, migration, and employment services, and the government spent the equivalent of approximately $68,000 for the shelter in 2012 and received additional funding from a private company. The National Service for Minors (SENAME) provided services to child victims of sex trafficking through its national network of 16 walk-in centers for children subjected to commercial sexual exploitation—including boys—and reported spending the equivalent to approximately $2.8 million in 2012 for these NGO-administered programs. SENAME also funded one residential shelter exclusively for child sex trafficking victims. Some NGOs reported that funding from SENAME was inadequate to provide all of these services and to conduct outreach to vulnerable youth. Specialized assistance for male victims was limited, and NGOs reported a lack of adequate services for some trafficking victims.
Chilean authorities encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenders. Foreign victims who reported the crime to authorities were eligible for temporary residency with the right to work for a minimum six-month period, and five victims received this residency in 2012. NGOs reported that extensive wait time for these temporary visas impeded some foreign victims’ access to service. The law also establishes foreign victims’ rights to take steps toward regularizing their legal status in Chile. There were no reports that the government punished trafficking victims for unlawful acts they committed as a direct result of their being subjected to human trafficking.
The government sustained awareness efforts during the reporting period and conducted an internal evaluation of its capacity to address trafficking. The anti-trafficking interagency working group met three times in 2012 and released a national assessment of anti-trafficking efforts, highlighting priority areas for action and forming the basis of a draft national action plan. SENAME continued to raise awareness about child prostitution through awareness campaigns. Authorities provided anti-trafficking training to Chilean troops prior to their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping missions. The government prosecuted individuals for soliciting sexual services from children but did not report efforts targeting the demand for forced labor.