The government maintained victim protection efforts. The government’s interagency task force on trafficking (MITP) coordinated the government’s anti-trafficking efforts. The government identified 47 adult victims of trafficking (21 men and 26 women), compared with 37 victims in 2019, 41 in 2018, and 21 victims in 2017. Of the 47 victims identified, 42 were exploited in labor trafficking and 5 were exploited in sex trafficking. The government reported identifying two child trafficking victims during the reporting period, compared with two in 2019 and two in 2018. The National Service of Women and Gender Equality (SERNAMEG) provided shelter and legal service to 16 female victims among the 47 victims of trafficking. The MP provided housing to most victims, while the SERNAMEG-funded shelter could directly assist female victims identified in 2020 and other victims identified in previous reporting periods. The MITP’s protocol on victim assistance entitled victims to safe housing, health services, psychological services, legal assistance, education, employment assistance, and regularization of migratory status. However, provision of victim services remained uneven across the country, and NGOs reported funding was inadequate to provide necessary services, especially adequate shelter for children and male victims. The government did not fund most NGOs that provided victim assistance; most agencies did not have specific line items in their budgets for victim assistance. Reintegration services, such as education and job placement assistance, were insufficient, and officials reported access to adequate mental health services was expensive and limited.
The national prosecutor’s office’s Regional Victims and Witness Assistance Unit (URAVIT) budgeted approximately 84 million Chilean pesos ($118,350) to provide housing and other basic needs for trafficking victims and potential victims in 2020, up from 17.2 million pesos ($24,230) in 2019. SERNAMEG allocated 136 million pesos ($191,600) to fund the NGO-operated shelter for women victims of trafficking, smuggled women, and their children, compared with 127 million pesos ($179,000) in 2019 and 140 million pesos ($197,200) allocated in 2018. The government also housed trafficking victims in domestic violence shelters, although these facilities did not necessarily provide specialized services for trafficking victims. URAVIT could arrange housing for male victims on a case-by-case basis; however, there were no shelters for male victims. NGOs administered shelter services for most victims outside the capital region. The Ministry of Interior maintained official agreements on legal representation and civil restitution for victims with the Ministry of Justice. SENAME provided basic services to child sex trafficking victims through 18 NGO-operated programs specialized for child victims of commercial sexual exploitation and its national network of residential centers. SENAME allocated 3.26 billion pesos ($4.59 million) to these programs for child and adolescent victim services in 2020, compared with 3.37 billion pesos ($4.75 million) in 2019 and three billion pesos ($4.23 million) in 2018. SENAME assisted 1,371 children in 2020, compared with 1,477 children in 2019, 1,459 children in 2018 and 1,350 children in 2017; SENAME did not track how many of the children it assisted were trafficking victims. SENAME noted the worst forms of child labor registry identified 80 children or adolescents as victims of commercial sexual exploitation, eight of whom were sex trafficking victims. In response to ongoing concerns over the safety of children in certain SENAME-affiliated residential centers, the government continued efforts to replace the agency’s Specialized Redress Centers under Direct Administration (CREADs), the category of care facility most often serving child trafficking victims, with smaller “family-style residences.” According to government reports, children in CREADs were at severe risk of rights violations and sexual abuse. The government closed two CREADs in 2020, leaving four of the original 11 facilities operational. Legislation to restructure SENAME passed in 2020 and was pending implementation at the conclusion of the reporting period.
SENAME trained 74 members of its shelters staff on identifying child and adolescent trafficking victims. The government provided training on detecting and addressing various crimes, including trafficking, in a clinical setting to an unspecified number of public health officials. The government issued 11 no-fee visas for foreign trafficking victims, compared to 13 in 2019 and 17 in 2018; two additional requests were pending. Such a visa was valid for up to one year and renewable for up to two additional years if the victim reported the trafficking crime to the prosecutor’s office. Foreign victims received the same victim services and courtroom accommodations – such as teleconference, witness protection, and video testimony – as Chilean victims. Officials recognized growing migrant populations, especially irregular Venezuelan migrants, as increasingly at risk of trafficking. Due to the pandemic, the government largely closed national borders to non-resident foreign nationals from March to December 2020; over the same period, a record number of irregular migrants entered Chile, primarily Venezuelans via northern land borders. Under a new immigration framework established in a December 2020 immigration reform law but retroactive to the March 2020 border closure, the government did not permit irregular migrants or those entering the country on a tourist visa to alter their residency status in-country. Civil society actors expressed concern the confluence of increased irregular arrivals and the new regulations would increase migrants’ vulnerability to trafficking. The same immigration reform law included a provision to expressly prohibit the deportation of identified trafficking victims. Officials expected to implement the new framework in early 2021.
In response to the pandemic, URAVIT implemented a video interpretation service to facilitate safe exchanges between law enforcement and victims of all crimes, including trafficking victims, providing access to interpretation in sign language, regional indigenous languages, Haitian Creole, and Chinese. Officials extended until 2022 the deadline for gradual implementation of a 2019 law to reduce re-traumatization of child and adolescent victims through required video testimony facilitated by an expert intermediary. Judges often held accused traffickers in pretrial detention. Despite these efforts, the government reported challenges in encouraging victims to participate in a full trial. Victims could receive restitution or compensation through civil or criminal cases, respectively; in 2020, the courts awarded one victim 7 million pesos ($9,860) in restitution during the criminal prosecution of her two traffickers.