The government increased protection efforts. The Ministry of Interior (MOI) reported authorities identified 96 trafficking victims (68 in 2016 and 67 in 2015). Of these, 69 were exploited in sex trafficking, 12 in forced labor, two in forced begging, and 13 were unknown. The Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) identified seven girls exploited in trafficking in 2017 (39 girls and seven boys in 2016). International organization and media sources reported the government struggled to identify and provide services to potential trafficking victims among Venezuelan migrants due to financial and personnel constraints. Authorities and an international organization identified at least 140 children who separated from illegal armed groups in 2017 (167 in 2016 and 229 in 2015); all received medical and psychological evaluations from an international organization and reintegration services from the ICBF.
Presidential decree 1069 of 2014, which clarified the implementation of Law 985, mandated the government to provide emergency trafficking victim assistance, which includes medical and psychological services, 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 days and could be extended for an additional three days as needed; medium-term assistance was provided for up to six months and could be extended for an additional three months. Of the 96 identified victims, the government provided 37 victims with emergency assistance and 59 with medium-term assistance in 2017 (compared to providing 63 with emergency assistance and 37 with medium-term assistance in 2016). The government provided repatriation assistance to 35 victims. Seven child victims identified by the ICBF received services. 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 and led a working group with the MOI to coordinate service provision 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. Following a 2016 constitutional court decision, victims were not required 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 regarding reporting standardization, identification of victims, and provision of rapid assistance. NGOs acknowledged improved coordination, but criticized delays in service delivery, lack of long-term victim assistance, lack of attention to vulnerable populations, and lack of systematic verification of quality of care. NGOs indicated the absence of formal procedures for engagement with civil society resulted in uncoordinated and limited engagement by the government. During the reporting period, Colombian consulates in Lima, Peru; Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Mexico City, Mexico assisted Colombian victims abroad.
In 2017, the government appropriated 2.3 billion pesos ($771,350) to assist internal trafficking victims through the MOI and ICFTP, and earmarked 222.8 million pesos ($74,720) to assist Colombian trafficking victims abroad, the same amounts as in 2016. Authorities lacked sufficient funding and personnel to provide specialized services to trafficking victims. Decree 1069 of 2014 makes local governments responsible for providing services beyond emergency care, but most had no funding dedicated to providing specialized services.
During the reporting period, the government assisted one trafficking victim and one witness 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 penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being subjected to trafficking. 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 did not report doing so during the reporting period. Trafficking victims were entitled to request restitution or file civil suits at any time under articles 102 and 103 of the criminal procedure code; however, there were no reported victims who received restitution. The department government of Guaviare allocated 215 million pesos ($72,100) for its restitution program in 2017.