The government maintained weak victim protection efforts, but reported providing services to more victims than in the previous year. Most victims continued to lack access to specialized services. The anti-trafficking law (law 28950) required the government to assist and protect victims by providing temporary lodging, transportation, medical and psychological care, legal assistance, and re-integration assistance, although the government did not fulfill this mandate. Police reported identifying 1,134 suspected victims in 2016, compared with 699 identified in 2015, though this number could not be verified. The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP) reported identifying 216 child victims, including 106 subjected to labor trafficking, 96 subjected to sex trafficking, and 14 subjected to both forms of exploitation. The government did not provide additional data on victims’ ages, genders, or type of trafficking experienced. Most victims did not receive sufficient protective services, leaving them at high risk of re-trafficking. Officials cited the lack of adequate protective services as a key impediment to their ability to effectively combat human trafficking in the country as vicitms’ needs and safety concerns were not addressed sufficiently.
Peru’s anti-trafficking law assigned responsibility to several ministries for identifying suspected victims among the high-risk populations they served and referring them to appropriate authorities, but the government did not report whether any such victims were referred to the police or protective services during the year. Protocols for identifying adult sex trafficking victim among individuals in prostitution were inadequate, as authorities often made such determinations based on whether an individual had access to identity documents and a required public health certificate. The government had both inter- and intra-ministerial protocols for providing protection to trafficking victims, but implemented them unevenly due to insufficient resources and poor interagency coordination.
MIMP was responsible for coordinating and providing services to victims in partnership with regional governments; in 2016 it provided psychological, legal, and social work services to 557 victims (505 victims in 2015) in coordination with prosecutors. MIMP dedicated 3,803,270 soles ($1,132,940) to serving trafficking victims in 2016, an increase from 2,764,900 soles ($823,620) in 2015. The prosecutorial program for victims and witnesses spent 3,123,600 soles ($930,470) to assist 437 trafficking victims, 27 witnesses, and 12 family members during the first half of 2016, compared with 505 trafficking victims assisted in 2015. The government operated two shelters, in Lima and Mazuko, exclusively for trafficking victims, with a total capacity of 28 beds. These facilities assisted 28 victims during the reporting period, compared with 119 victims assisted during the previous period. While the government operated 48 residential centers for children and adolescents, which provided some services to 122 child trafficking victims, staff in these shelters lacked the expertise and resources to provide adequate protection services to trafficking victims. Many civil society organizations operated shelters that assisted an unknown number of victims during the year without government support, although few offered trafficking-specific services. There were no facilities that could accommodate adult male victims and no specialized services for LGBTI victims. Authorities reported government shelters were often full and services for victims were often unavailable immediately following law enforcement operations. At times, the government placed child victims in police stations among children apprehended for crimes, where they sometimes remained for extended periods. Shelter and specialized psychological, employment, and other services remained unavailable in most areas and for most adults and labor trafficking victims.
The law requires the government to provide a public defender for trafficking victims to safeguard victims’ legal rights and to use a single-interview process, utilizing specialized equipment where available. The Ministry of Justice reported it provided legal assistance to 293 trafficking victims in 2016. Some anti-trafficking operations were conducted without adequate resources, such as safe places to screen potential victims and provide them immediate care. Peruvian law grants victims the ability to receive restitution, but the government did not report any victims receiving restitution in 2016.
According to an international organization, the government treats foreign national trafficking victims as refugees, referring them first to the UN which then assists them in filing a complaint and seeking government services. It was not clear whether all foreign victims went through this process or how many foreign victims were identified during the reporting period. Foreign victims were eligible for temporary and permanent residency status under Peruvian refugee law, but the government did not report if any victims received this status in 2016. The government did not report whether it assisted in the repatriation of any Peruvian victims exploited abroad.
Due to inadequate victim identification procedures, some sex trafficking victims may have remained unidentified and been arrested, detained, or otherwise punished for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to human trafficking. Child victims who were housed in police stations faced conditions similar to detention, though they were not charged with crimes.