The government increased protection efforts. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) reported authorities identified 68 trafficking victims (67 in 2015 and 59 in 2014). Of the identified victims, 47 were sex trafficking victims, 10 were forced labor victims, four were victims of forced begging, three were domestic servitude victims, and four were unidentified. The ICBF identified 46 cases of child trafficking, 39 girls and 7 boys (39 girls and 6 boys in 2015). Authorities and an international organization identified at least 167 children who separated from illegal armed groups in 2016 (229 in 2015 and 243 in 2014). In 2016, the recruitment of children by illegal armed groups for armed conflict reached a historic low after the government signed a peace accord with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to end a more than five-decade conflict. During the reporting period, the FARC had released 57 children from its ranks, all of whom received medical and psychological evaluations from an international organization before referring them to the ICBF for additional reintegration services. The Ministry of Labor (MOL) and an international organization began drafting a protocol for the identification of trafficking victims that will be included in the training manual provided to all labor inspectors. In 2016, the MOL provided anti-trafficking training to 10 officials from the inspection and surveillance unit on developing an identification protocol for labor trafficking victims.
Presidential decree 1069 of 2014, which clarified the implementation of Law 985, mandated the government to provide emergency trafficking victim protection and assistance, which includes medical and psychological assessments and assistance, clothing and hygiene kits, housing, transportation, legal advice, issuance of travel and identity documents, and repatriation; and medium-term assistance, such as educational services, job training and job search assistance, and economic support. Emergency assistance was provided for five calendar days, and could be extended for an additional three calendar days as needed; medium-term assistance was provided for up to six months, and could be extended for an additional three months. Of the 76 identified victims, the government provided 63 with emergency assistance and 37 with medium-term assistance. In addition, 19 victims received protective measures and 38 received repatriation assistance. All 46 child victims identified by the ICBF received services. In August 2016, the constitutional court invalidated language in article 7 of Law 985 of the penal code, which had required victims to file an official complaint against their traffickers in order to receive assistance. The Interagency Committee for the Fight against Trafficking in Persons (ICFTP), which coordinated the efforts of 16 national entities, created formal instructions for each agency in the committee to standardize reporting, identification of victims, and provision of rapid assistance. NGOs acknowledged improved coordination, but criticized delays in service delivery, the lack of long-term victim assistance, and lack of attention to vulnerable populations. NGOs indicated the absence of formal procedures for engagement with civil society resulted in uncoordinated and limited engagement by the government. The government did not operate specialized shelters dedicated to adult trafficking victims, but it referred victims to NGOs for these services. The ICBF provided shelters for child trafficking victims. Shelter and services for male victims were very limited. NGOs asserted Afro-Colombian, indigenous, LGBTI, and disabled persons received insufficient attention, but the government reported maintaining a shelter for LGBTI victims of violence, an indigenous training center, and policies to assist disabled victims.
Authorities increased budget resources to government agencies responsible for assisting trafficking victims. In 2016, the government appropriated 2.3 billion pesos ($766,284) for internal trafficking victims and earmarked 222.8 million pesos ($74,230) to assist Colombian trafficking victims abroad [compared with 596.1 million pesos ($198,601) in 2015 for internal victims and 200 million pesos ($66,633) for Colombian victims abroad]. The government also disbursed 15.7 billion pesos ($5,230,718) to provide services to child victims of sexual violence, including child trafficking victims. The national government ceased funding to specialized NGOs; however, some states continued to provide emergency assistance to victims. Authorities lacked sufficient funding and personnel to provide specialized services, reintegration work with families, and vocational training for children. Decree 1069 makes local governments responsible for providing services beyond emergency care, but most had no funding dedicated to providing specialized services.
The government approved measures to formalize a referral mechanism to provide protection for victims who assist in the penal process. During the reporting period, the government assisted five victims, witnesses, and family members through the victim and witness protection program. Some victims were reluctant to report their exploitation or testify against their traffickers due to fear of reprisals or lack of trust in the justice system. There were no reports that victims were detained, fined, or otherwise penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. The government again did not provide updates on the 2014 media report alleging a trafficking victim was incarcerated due to testimony of another victim’s father, who alleged she was a recruiter in a trafficking ring. Authorities could provide foreign trafficking victims with temporary permission to remain in the country during the investigative process on a case-by-case basis; however, authorities have never reported doing so. In July, a civil court upheld a settlement for back wages and benefits for a forced labor victim, but there were no reports on the number of trafficking victims who received restitution to which they were entitled under articles 102 and 103 of the criminal procedure code.