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, but also from other countries—have been identified as forced labor victims in Chile’s mining, agricultural, and hospitality sectors, and in domestic service. In 2013, authorities identified 12 Indian men in forced labor in a restaurant in Santiago and a large number of Bolivian labor trafficking victims in construction. Authorities report that Chinese immigrants may also be vulnerable to both sex trafficking and forced labor. Chilean authorities identified more than 200 children involved in illicit activities in 2013, including drug trafficking and robbery; some of these children may have been trafficking victims. Chilean authorities indicate that Chile is a transit country for trafficking victims from other countries.
The Government of Chile fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the reporting period, Chilean authorities strengthened anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts through building police and prosecutor capacity and achieved the country’s first convictions for labor trafficking. In 2013, the government increased interagency coordination and institutional capacity to respond to trafficking through publishing a national action plan and a victim assistance protocol. Chilean authorities continued to offer specialized services to child sex trafficking victims and adult female victims and provided protective services to significant number of labor trafficking victims. Government officials, especially front-line officials outside the capital region, continued to lack adequate training and resources to identify trafficking victims and refer them to protective services.
Recommendations for Chile:
Increase efforts to investigate and prosecute all forms of human trafficking and convict and sufficiently punish trafficking offenders; expand victims’ access to comprehensive services through increased referrals to and funding for these services, in partnership with civil society; increase training for front-line responders in victim identification and implementation of the new victim assistance protocol; continue to strengthen law enforcement’s capability to 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; continue to increase the use of the anti-trafficking law, including for cases involving child sex trafficking where victims are not transported, perhaps by implementing mechanisms requiring that these cases be referred to specialized anti-trafficking police and prosecutors; improve data collection; and continue to enhance interagency coordination mechanisms and communication with NGOs, particularly at the regional level.
The Government of Chile increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period, including by achieving the country’s first convictions for labor trafficking and by increasing police and prosecutor capacity. Law 20507 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. Chilean officials continued to investigate and prosecute many internal child sex trafficking cases as commercial sexual exploitation of minors or pimping, crimes which often carried lower sentences.
As of February 2014, the anti-trafficking police unit reported 26 open trafficking investigations during the reporting period, half of which involved labor trafficking. This represents an increase from 18 reported investigations in 2012. In 2013 Chilean prosecutors opened 90 trafficking prosecutions; 72 involved the facilitation of the prostitution of children, 14 cases involved adult sex trafficking, and four involved labor trafficking. The government convicted 12 trafficking offenders in 2013 compared to 18 sex trafficking convictions achieved in 2012, including 13 under statutes prohibiting the prostitution of children. Authorities convicted nine trafficking offenders using anti-trafficking statutes, including two convictions for labor trafficking. Of the nine offenders convicted, only three received jail sentences—two were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and one was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. Other convicted traffickers, including the two labor trafficking offenders, were released on parole or given suspended sentences, and some were fined. One of the convicted sex traffickers had previously served five years in jail for sex trafficking of minors. In addition, Chilean authorities reported convicting three trafficking offenders under statutes prohibiting the facilitation or promotion of prostitution of children, but did not report the range of sentences for these convictions.
The government convicted an administrative police employee of bringing two Peruvian women into Chile for sex trafficking; he was expelled from the agency and sentenced to three years on parole and a fine. Authorities trained more than 1,000 police officers on combating human trafficking, including at the police academy in mandatory training for all new detectives. The government provided specialized training on trafficking for other officials, including prosecutors, social workers, and labor officials, often in partnership with NGOs and international organizations. Chilean authorities increased staffing for the trafficking and smuggling investigative police unit in Santiago. The public prosecutor’s office designated a prosecutor in each region to coordinate trafficking investigations and training, and formed an internal trafficking working group to ensure coordination between these prosecutors. Chilean authorities recognized the need for increased data collection and sharing, and as part of the interagency agreement signed in December 2013, formally committed to producing regular reporting on trafficking law enforcement statistics. Chilean prosecutors reported collaborating with foreign governments in 29 ongoing and new transnational trafficking investigations in 2013.
The Government of Chile increased victim protection efforts during the reporting period, though specialized services for some victims remained lacking. Prosecutors reported identifying 164 potential trafficking victims during the year, an increase from 95 identified in 2012. Of these victims, 136 were labor trafficking victims while 28 were exploited in sex trafficking. It is likely that many child sex trafficking victims were identified as victims of different crimes, as officials reported assisting 1,095 children in commercial sexual exploitation in 2013. Authorities published an interagency victim assistance protocol in 2013, which established guidelines and responsibilities for government agencies in trafficking victim care; the protocol was implemented in the capital region during the reporting period, with plans to expand to other regions in 2014. Officials published a separate protocol for legal assistance to trafficking victims during the year. NGOs reported that some government agencies responsible for identifying and assisting victims lacked adequate training, particularly outside the capital region.
In 2013, the government opened a support center for victims of violent crime in Santiago with psychologists, social workers, and attorneys specialized in human trafficking, the first such center to specialize in serving this population. Chilean authorities began training staff at other centers across the country to provide specialized assistance to trafficking victims, beginning in the Magallanes region. Of the 164 victims reported by prosecutors, eight were referred to government-funded shelters, while 69 potential victims received direct assistance from the public prosecutor’s office or an NGO that received the equivalent of approximately $14,000 from the office to assist victims. It was unclear what services the remaining 87 victims received. Almost all NGOs assisting trafficking victims received some government funding, but all reported that funding for these services was inadequate.
The government continued to fund a dedicated shelter operated by an NGO for female adult victims of trafficking and their children. The shelter housed eight foreign victims during the reporting period, including three labor trafficking victims. This open shelter facilitated health, migration, and employment services, and the government spent the equivalent of approximately $182,000 for the shelter in 2013. 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 spent the equivalent of approximately $2.9 million in 2013 for these NGO-administered programs. SENAME also funded one residential shelter exclusively for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Some NGOs reported that funding from SENAME was inadequate to provide all necessary services and to conduct outreach to vulnerable youth. Specialized assistance for male victims was limited. Some potential labor trafficking victims were temporarily housed in hotels during the year. Reintegration services such as education and job placement remained lacking.
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 49 victims received this residency in 2013. NGOs reported that extensive wait time for these temporary visas impeded some foreign victims’ access to service. The government worked to develop a protocol so that victims or institutions representing victims could apply for this visa regardless of whether or not prosecutors had opened an investigation. The law also establishes foreign victims’ rights to take steps toward regularizing their legal status in Chile. During the year, a judge ordered convicted traffickers to provide the equivalent of approximately $20,000 in restitution for sex trafficking. 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 increased prevention efforts during the reporting period, including by issuing a comprehensive national action plan to combat human trafficking. 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 met multiple times during the year. In December 2013, Chilean government agencies, international organizations, and NGOs signed a formal cooperation agreement to combat human trafficking, including through implementing the national anti-trafficking action plan released during the agreement signing. During the reporting period, authorities designated a government official in each region to lead efforts to implement the national plan at the regional level. The Magallanes region created an interagency taskforce to address human trafficking at the local level in 2013. The government launched a national awareness campaign about human trafficking, and SENAME continued an ongoing awareness campaign about commercial sexual exploitation of children. Authorities provided anti-trafficking training to Chilean troops prior to their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping missions. The government took actions to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts involving children, but did not report efforts targeting the demand for forced labor.