The government increased protection efforts. The Rescue Program was the government office responsible for coordinating emergency victim services nationwide; in 2017, it reported identifying and assisting 1,107 trafficking (658 labor, 358 sex trafficking, and the remainder were unspecified) victims, compared with 666 in 2016. This included 960 adults, 57 minors, 560 females, 438 males, and 19 transgender victims. The Ministry of Social Development (SENNAF) is responsible for identifying and assisting foreign victims; SENNAF reported identifying and assisting 80 foreign victims during the reporting period. The government did not report if that number was included in the total number of victims that the Rescue Program identified. All identified victims received the option of emergency assistance—which included shelter, psychological, medical, and legal assistance—during the early stages of the investigation and trial. Law 27.362, enacted in July 2017, provided a legal framework, and more public defenders, to secure rights and guarantees for victims of crimes in general, including human trafficking victims. The law was not utilized in any trafficking cases in the reporting period. Additionally, the MOS developed guidance for referral of complaints on trafficking crimes within police and security forces stations and guidance on how federal security forces should behave when interviewing trafficking victims. Federal officials had formal procedures for victim identification and assistance; however, in practice, the procedures to identify victims among vulnerable populations varied by province. Some front-line responders had limited understanding of trafficking. The federal government did not make efforts to identify victims of domestic servitude, although some provincial-level officials led efforts to identify and raise awareness of domestic servitude.
SENNAF, along with each provincial government, was responsible for both mid- and long-term assistance for foreign and Argentine victims; they reported assisting 847 victims, marking the first time they collected these data. However, mid- and long-term assistance remained deficient. Regional governments in seven provinces operated anti-trafficking centers, which provided psychological, social, medical, and judicial assistance to trafficking victims. A government-funded NGO operated two shelters in Buenos Aires and Tucuman that assisted trafficking victims. SENNAF reported operating one shelter specifically for foreign victims, regardless of gender or age. There were no other specialized shelters for male victims; therefore, the government often placed male victims in other government-funded shelters or in hotels for temporary housing. NGOs reported a need for long-term housing, skills training and employment, childcare, legal assistance, and financial assistance for victims after testifying in court cases. Foreign victims had the same access to care as Argentine nationals; however, victims were sometimes unaware of available services. Authorities reported 80 foreign victims received assistance during the reporting period, with roughly half being minors. The government did not report the number of victims who received repatriation assistance. The Ministry of Justice received approximately 199.7 million Argentine pesos ($10.4 million) to support victims’ assistance activities. Authorities, including SENNAF, organized 64 training courses, reaching 8,136 individuals, including officials, members of civil society, students, teachers, and health professionals.
The government encouraged the participation of victims in trials of their traffickers by assisting victims throughout the initial testimony and during any subsequent appearances. The Rescue Program provided tribunals with reports on the psychological state of victims and what requirements they might have to assist in the prosecution of their traffickers. Other support for victim testimony included the possibility of video testimony and the use of recorded testimony. It was unclear how many victims received such assistance during the reporting period. There were no reports of identified victims jailed or penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being subjected to trafficking. Victims can file for restitution by bringing civil suits against traffickers. There were limited examples of success under this procedure, and the government conducted outreach and drafted policies during the reporting period to improve best practices on both topics.