The government maintained efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims, although services for some groups remained limited. Specialized anti-trafficking police units identified 640 suspected victims in 2020, compared with 1,054 in 2019 and 1,600 in 2018. These victims included 385 adults (all women) and 255 children (118 girls and 137 boys); 561 were Peruvian and 79 were from other countries. Specialized prosecutors reported identifying 470 victims in 2020; the government provided updated data for victims identified by prosecutors in 2019 (1266) and 2018 (1189). Of these, 411 victims were female and 59 were male; 244 were children and 226 adults; 402 were Peruvian and 68 were from other countries (45 from Venezuela, seven from Ecuador, one from Colombia, one from Bolivia, and 14 from other countries not specified). The government did not report the extent to which victim identification statistics overlapped between police and prosecutors, nor did it collect data on victims identified through other sources. With assistance from an NGO, the government published new identification guidelines for municipal inspectors, healthcare providers, and frontline police officers.
Authorities referred all child victims to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP), which coordinated shelter or family care and provided legal, social service, psychological, and reintegration assistance to victims. MIMP operated specialized units for assisting children in need of special protections, including all child trafficking victims; in 2020, MIMP created six additional specialized units bringing the total to 25 units across all of Peru’s regions. These units assisted 223 children (204 Peruvian, 15 Venezuelan, two Ecuadorean, and two Colombian), and authorities referred 96 girls to specialized trafficking victim shelters in 2020, compared with 130 child victims assisted and 114 girls referred to specialized shelters in 2019. MIMP operated seven specialized shelters exclusively for girls exploited in sex trafficking (including some whom authorities classified as sexual exploitation victims) in four regions (Cusco, Lima, Loreto, and Puno); in total, these facilities could accommodate 130 children. Services and staffing in the shelters were generally robust, with the inclusion of a full-time attorney, medical personnel, and psychologist. At the onset of the pandemic, shelters closed to non-residents, limiting the services available to victims. With support from an international organization, the government made technological improvements to shelters and began offering victims virtual counseling sessions, legal services, and communication with their families through part of the year.
The anti-trafficking law required the government to protect victims by providing temporary lodging, transportation, medical and psychological care, legal assistance, and reintegration assistance; several ministries provided these services to victims, but the government did not wholly fulfill this mandate. The government had an intersectoral protocol for providing protection to trafficking victims and several ministries had internal protocols for victim care, but authorities implemented them unevenly due to insufficient financial and human resources and coordination challenges. The government offered specialized trafficking victim services for girls exploited in sex trafficking, while other victims could access services for victims of gender-based violence or other forms of government and NGO support. MIMP operated 52 residential centers for children that could accommodate child trafficking victims, including boys, but these shelters were not exclusively for human trafficking victims and services in these facilities were lacking. Women could access legal, psychological, and social services—but not overnight accommodation—through MIMP’s nationwide network of Emergency Centers for Women, but the government did not collect data on the number of trafficking victims the centers assisted. The government added 51 new emergency centers in 2020, bringing the total to 446, though they were temporarily closed between March and May 2020 following the onset of the pandemic. Numerous civil society organizations provided assistance to trafficking victims, including two NGOs that were members of the government’s multisectoral commission against trafficking, and approximately 70 private shelters accepted trafficking victims. Adult victims, labor trafficking victims, and male victims had few shelter options, and reports indicated that authorities often denied men other services; there were no shelters that accepted men. The government provided limited access to services for LGBTQI+ victims; authorities frequently discriminated against LGBTQI+ individuals and typically did not admit transgender victims to government shelters. The government acknowledged inequity in service provision to LGBTQI+ victims, particularly transgender children, and sought assistance from an international organization to develop policies and trainings for service providers on providing comprehensive, specialized services for LGBTQI+ child trafficking victims. Foreign victims were generally eligible for the same services as Peruvian victims, but the government did not specify whether it referred any foreign victims to government shelters. Foreign victims were eligible for temporary and permanent residency status under Peruvian refugee law, but the government did not report whether it granted any trafficking victims residency during the year.
Criminal justice officials often did not employ victim-centered methods and at times they conducted anti-trafficking operations without adequate resources, such as vehicles to transport victims or safe places to screen potential victims, isolate them from suspects, and provide immediate care. The Public Ministry’s Victim and Witness Assistance Unit (UDAVIT) provided short-term care for 529 victims and coordinated referrals to other service providers immediately following some law enforcement operations; in comparison, UDAVIT assisted 920 victims during the previous reporting period. NGOs reported insufficient funding and a lack of training on victim-centered methods limited UDAVIT’s capacity to provide consistent, high-quality care to victims. Local experts reported UDAVIT sometimes made services contingent on victims providing statements to investigators. Police and prosecutors did not effectively identify indicators of trafficking among women in commercial sex, and officials did not effectively distinguish between victims of trafficking and similar crimes – leaving some victims unidentified and without access to comprehensive trafficking victim services. Victim services were not immediately available following law enforcement operations on nights and weekends.
UDAVIT operated 23 emergency spaces that could provide short-term accommodation to women and children who were participating in investigations and prosecutions. The government assigned victims a legal advocate from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, to safeguard their legal rights and guide them through the legal system, after authorities initiated a prosecution. The government had 336 legal advocates, including nine that specialized in trafficking. LGBTQI+ individuals experienced discrimination from law enforcement and were often re-victimized during the criminal justice process. Some victims provided statements through interviews in secure Gesell chambers, and authorities developed a system to adapt the protection measures provided by Gesell chambers to online platforms during virtual proceedings. A lack of incentives to participate in investigations and limited access to practical services, such as alternative livelihood development, led many adult victims to decline government services. Officials cited the lack of adequate protective services as a key impediment to their ability to effectively combat trafficking in Peru, and insufficient services left some groups at high risk of re-trafficking.
March 2021 updates to the penal code established minimum criteria a judge should consider when awarding compensation to trafficking victims and granted authority for the government to confiscate a trafficker’s property to fulfill payment obligations. However, the government did not report whether any courts ordered or victims received compensation in 2020. The government reported assisting foreign trafficking victims to remove fines or other penalties they may have incurred from undocumented entry; however, due to inadequate victim identification procedures, authorities may have fined or penalized some unidentified trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. At times, authorities placed child victims in police stations among children apprehended for crimes, where victims faced conditions similar to detention while waiting for referral to shelter.