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CHILE: Tier 1

The Government of Chile fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore, Chile remained on Tier 1. The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by pursuing more prosecutions and obtaining more convictions under the trafficking statute, increasing funding for victim services, assisting a greater number of child sex trafficking victims, and developing a national identification and referral mechanism. Although the government meets the minimum standards, weak sentences for trafficking convictions continued to hamper efforts to deter and hold traffickers accountable. The government continued to prosecute and convict internal child sex trafficking cases under a law that does not prescribe penalties commensurate with other serious crimes.

Increase efforts to penalize traffickers with dissuasive sentences proportionate to the severity of the crime; investigate, prosecute, and convict all forms of human trafficking, including internal child sex trafficking, under law 20.507; expand access to specialized shelters for victims, including male victims and victims outside the capital; issue guidance to law enforcement and members of the judiciary clarifying that third-party prostitution of children is sex trafficking; encourage members of the judiciary to order restitution on behalf of all victims of trafficking who request it; strengthen law enforcement’s capacity to respond to trafficking victims, including by providing translation services when needed; increase legal representation to victims who wish to seek restitution from their exploiters; develop guidelines for officials to screen for trafficking indicators for children involved in illicit activities; and make efforts to reduce the demand of commercial sex and forced labor.

The government increased prosecution efforts, although imposed penalties for convicted traffickers were inadequate as none of the eight convicted traffickers served prison terms. Law 20.507 prohibits all forms of human trafficking, prescribing penalties ranging from five years and one day to 15 years imprisonment, plus fines, for trafficking offenses. These 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 child sex trafficking. Minimum penalties for this crime range from three to five years imprisonment, which is commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping, although well below those for rape. In practice, judges frequently suspended or commuted sentences of individuals convicted of serious offenses, including human trafficking. Anti-trafficking police units opened 23 new investigations in 2016, four for sex trafficking and 19 for labor trafficking, compared with 15 cases in 2015, seven for sex trafficking and eight for labor trafficking. Authorities prosecuted 109 cases, 103 under article 367 for promoting and facilitating child sex trafficking, and six under law 20.507 for trafficking, compared with 94 prosecutions in 2015 (91 under article 367 and three under law 20.507). The government obtained convictions for eight traffickers, three under article 367 and five under law 20.507 (two for sex trafficking and three for labor trafficking), an increase from three under article 367 and none under law 20.507 in 2015. However, none of the traffickers convicted during the reporting period were sentenced to terms of incarceration, although some were in pre-trial detention. Convicted traffickers were sentenced to probation, a penalty inadequate given the severity of the crime. In contrast, in 2015, the government sentenced two of the three convicted traffickers to three years imprisonment and the third trafficker to daily overnight imprisonment. The government obtained its first labor trafficking conviction, handed down by a panel of judges in a bench trial, in a case in which three children from Ecuador were forced to work 12-hour days, seven days a week selling clothes and handicrafts on the street in cold weather and doing domestic work in the home of two Ecuadorian nationals. The children were never paid and had no access to education or medical services. The defendants were found guilty and sentenced to probation. In another labor trafficking case involving one child from Ecuador, defendants provided restitution in the amount of 5 million pesos ($7,480) as part of a settlement and were sentenced to 5 years probation. The government did not report any prosecutions or convictions of government officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking offenses during 2016. The former deputy police chief who had been investigated for his alleged involvement in the commercial sexual exploitation of children was convicted of sexual abuse after the investigations concluded he had not been a part of the trafficking ring.

The government provided specialized training on trafficking to more than 420 officials in 2016, including law enforcement, prosecutors, justice officials, often in partnership with NGOs and international organizations. The public prosecutor’s office maintained an active anti-trafficking working group that provided guidelines for investigating trafficking cases and maintained a human trafficking coordinator in each regional office. The human trafficking coordinator notified and coordinated new cases with specialized units at the national prosecutor’s office to ensure assignment of prosecutors with trafficking experience or experience prosecuting other complex or transnational crimes. In December 2016, the public prosecutor’s office created a northern Chile internal working group, including regional prosecutors from three northern provinces, to increase coordination and effectiveness of criminal investigations into organized crime, including trafficking in persons. Authorities increased the staff of the trafficking and smuggling investigative police unit in Santiago to 28 detectives from 24; a similar unit in Iquique had eight detectives. Authorities reported lack of specialized funding for trafficking efforts remained a concern; it limited access to qualified translators and interpretation services for investigations involving foreign victims and specialized legal representation for victims, particularly for those seeking restitution via civil lawsuits. The government participated in an international law enforcement operation of 36 countries that resulted in the detention of 10 traffickers.

The government maintained victim protection efforts. Authorities identified 23 trafficking victims during the year including two children, 15 for labor trafficking, and eight for sex trafficking, compared with 65 trafficking victims in 2015 and16 in 2014. The National Service for Minors (SENAME) assisted 1,341 children who were victims of commercial sexual exploitation in 2016, compared with 1,285 in 2015; authorities did not report how many were victims of trafficking or how many of the children assisted were new in 2016. Provision of victim services remained uneven across the country and NGOs reported funding was inadequate to provide necessary services, especially shelter. The National Service for Women and Gender Equality (SERNAMEG) allocated 92.2 million Chilean pesos ($137,859) to fund the NGO-operated shelter for women victims of trafficking, smuggled women, and their children, an increase from 85 million pesos ($127,093). The shelter facilitated health, immigration, and employment services. In 2016, the shelter housed 10 women, including six foreigners from Ecuador, Russia, and Haiti. The shelter was at full occupancy and all other victims were referred to non-specialized shelters for victims of domestic abuse. 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. There were no shelters for adult male victims or victims outside the capital. SENAME increased funding to 2.717 billion Chilean pesos ($4.1 million) in 2016, compared with 2.276 billion Chilean pesos ($3.4 million) in 2015. The Social Action Department of the Ministry of Interior had a separate fund to assist vulnerable migrants that was used for trafficking victim services.

In 2016, the anti-trafficking interagency taskforce published a comprehensive identification and referral guide for public officials, including police officers, immigration officials, health providers, labor, health, and municipal inspectors. According to this guide, 63 percent of trafficking victims in Chile were male, yet specialized assistance for male victims was limited. 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 or illegal activities. The government increased training efforts outside the capital and maintained robust efforts to train first responders, including health workers, public officials, and victims. Reintegration services such as education and job placement assistance were insufficient, and officials reported access to quality mental health services was expensive and limited. Authorities provided training on victim assistance and identification to 275 government officials, including labor inspectors, SENAME staff, and first responders. The Department of Migration continued to provide no-fee visas for trafficking victims and issued 16 in 2016. The visa is valid for six months, renewable for up to two years. Renewal requires that the victim report the crime to the prosecutor’s office. The government did not report if restitution was granted to any victims through civil or criminal cases in 2016; however, in a forced labor case the defense provided 5 million Chilean pesos ($7,476) to the victim. There were no reports the government penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking.

The government maintained prevention efforts. 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 continued to implement the 2015-2018 national action plan. While there was improvement in interagency cross-referencing and sharing of data, more robust coordination was needed. A team of forensic psychologists completed a qualitative study on the nexus between the psychological aspects involved in human trafficking, such as coercion, intimidation, abuse of power, dependency, and the forensic investigatory techniques that can support a criminal investigation. By the end of the reporting period, the results of the study were not published; however, authorities indicated the findings were incorporated into the training offered to the investigative police.

A law enacted last year continued to strengthen 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 reported that no victims were identified as a result of the inspections conducted. The government continued 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. The government did not report efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor or adult commercial sex. Authorities provided anti-trafficking training to Chilean troops prior to their deployment abroad for international peacekeeping missions. The government provided anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel.

As reported over the past five years, 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. Some traffickers may recruit children staying in child protection centers. Men, women, and children—primarily from other Latin American countries, as well as Asia—are exploited in forced labor in Chile in mining; agriculture; construction; street vending; the hospitality, restaurant, and garment sectors; and domestic service. Chinese immigrants may be vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor and Korean women are subjected to sex trafficking. Chilean authorities identified a significant number of children involved in illicit activities, including drug trafficking and theft; some of these children may have been trafficking victims. Chilean men are subjected to labor trafficking in Peru and Chilean women are subjected to sex trafficking in Argentina, as well as other countries. Brothels in small towns are often frequented by police officers, dissuading potential trafficking victims from reporting exploitation. In 2016, law enforcement investigations and convictions indicated an increasing number of Ecuadorian men, women, and children are exploited in forced labor and sex trafficking in Chile.

U.S. Department of State

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