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Peru (Tier 2)

The Government of Peru does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Peru remained on Tier 2. These efforts included prosecuting and convicting more traffickers, adopting the National Policy Against Human Trafficking and its Forms of Exploitation, and expanding the anti-trafficking hotline to accommodate Quechua speakers. The government adopted new guidelines for providing mental health care to child trafficking survivors and for introducing evidence of psychological trauma into court proceedings on trafficking cases. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Services for adult victims, boys, LGBTQI+ individuals, and labor trafficking victims remained inadequate. Although authorities opened several investigations into public officials for alleged complicity in trafficking crimes, the government did not prosecute or convict any complicit officials. Government funding for combating trafficking was severely inadequate.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Increase overall resources to fund implementation of the National Policy Against Human Trafficking and allocate dedicated anti-trafficking budgets for member entities of the national multisectoral commission, as called for in law.
  • Increase funding for comprehensive victim services, including training and capacity-building for staff, and provide services to more Peruvian and foreign victims.
  • Increase the availability of services to meet the needs of adult victims, boys, LGBTQI+ individuals, and labor trafficking victims.
  • Amend the anti-trafficking law to prescribe penalties for sex trafficking that are commensurate with the penalties prescribed for other grave crimes, such as rape.
  • Employ trauma-informed methods and proactive screening measures for trafficking indicators during interactions with members of vulnerable groups—including individuals in commercial sex, LGBTQI+ persons, and displaced Venezuelans—and refer potential victims to comprehensive protection services.
  • Increase and institutionalize reintegration services for child victims transitioning out of shelter care and other victims who decline or lack access to shelter accommodation.
  • Increase efforts to prosecute both sex and labor trafficking crimes, convict and punish traffickers, including complicit officials, and apply adequate sentences to convicted traffickers.
  • Dedicate more resources to planning multisectoral, intelligence-driven law enforcement operations that include arrangements for prompt removal of victims to secure locations segregated from traffickers, victim-centered interviews, quick transition to care and shelter for identified victims, and contingency planning to avoid holding victims in police stations.
  • Strengthen and institutionalize training for police, prosecutors, and judges on enforcing anti-trafficking laws and employing victim-centered, trauma-informed procedures and assign cases to trained personnel.
  • Ensure officials consistently apply a definition of trafficking consistent with international law so that all victims exploited in sex or labor trafficking receive access to appropriate justice and protection.
  • Improve data collection systems to collect and report comprehensive, harmonized, and disaggregated data on anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim protection efforts.
  • Conduct outreach and prevention programs targeted to at-risk populations, including rural Indigenous communities, using culturally appropriate methods and local languages.
  • Enforce laws against crimes that facilitate trafficking, such as fraudulent job recruitment, recruitment fees, illegal mining and logging, and counterfeit operations.

PROSECUTION

The government increased prosecution efforts during the reporting period. Article 129 (previously Article 153) of Peru’s penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of eight to 15 years’ imprisonment for offenses involving adult victims, 12 to 20 years’ imprisonment for offenses involving victims between the ages of 14 and 18, and a minimum of 25 years’ imprisonment for offenses involving victims younger than 14. These penalties were sufficiently stringent; however, with respect to sex trafficking, these penalties were not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. The law defined trafficking broadly to include all forms of labor exploitation and illegal adoption or child selling without the purpose of exploitation. The penal code also included 15 separate offenses for different forms of exploitation including “forced labor,” “slavery and other forms of exploitation,” and 10 crimes involving sexual exploitation. Officials often classified trafficking victims and charged trafficking cases under exploitation laws, many of which overlapped significantly with one another and with Article 129 (previously 153). Many officials only applied trafficking statutes to crimes that occurred prior to exploitation. In 2021, the government introduced the new Criminal Procedure Code in the two remaining judicial districts, completing its years-long transition to a nationwide oral, accusatory system that allowed authorities to initiate trafficking prosecutions without a victim complaint.

Anti-trafficking police reportedly conducted 116 operations in the first nine months of 2021, resulting in 604 individuals detained or arrested for trafficking crimes, an increase from 65 operations and 214 detentions in the same period of 2020 and 186 operations and 364 detentions in all of 2019. The government continued to direct police, including anti-trafficking units, to enforce pandemic mitigation and public health measures. The pandemic had a particularly negative impact on police, with high rates of sickness and death diminishing the capacity of its already limited staff. Specialized prosecutors reported opening 354 trafficking investigations in 2021—336 for sex trafficking and 18 for forced labor, some of which may have also been counted in police data. In 2020, prosecutors participated in 214 anti-trafficking operations and detained 179 suspects, and in 2019, they participated in 252 operations and detained 209 suspects. In 2021, authorities initiated prosecutions of 121 suspects, and courts convicted 233 defendants for trafficking and related crimes. In comparison, authorities prosecuted at least 44 suspects and convicted 29 traffickers in 2020 and prosecuted 67 suspects and convicted 55 traffickers in 2019; however, prosecution data from previous years may have been incomplete. Prosecutors reported 165 sex trafficking prosecutions and 12 forced labor prosecutions were ongoing at the end of the year. The government did not report sentencing data for convicted traffickers. Prosecutors in Lima, Loreto, Madre de Dios, and Puno initiated the majority of prosecutions in 2021, and more than 80 percent of convictions were issued by courts in Lima, Madre de Dios, and Puno. In June 2021, police carried out a successful operation in Lima province targeting members of a criminal network that allegedly lured children with false job offers through social media, kidnapped them, and then subjected them to sex trafficking. Police arrested the suspected ringleader and 22 of his associates. In February 2022, authorities successfully raided an establishment near a mining area in Madre de Dios, leading to the identification of four sex trafficking victims and the arrest of two suspected traffickers. Public health measures limited prosecutors’ access to case files and related documents, which were often available only in hard copy, and high infection rates among public officials—including specialized prosecutors—further diminished the government’s capacity to prosecute traffickers. The judiciary developed a system to hear cases online but struggled to operate at full capacity.

The government maintained specialized anti-trafficking police units, with 474 officers assigned to regional units across 23 of Peru’s 24 regions; this was an increase from 448 specialized police officers in 2020. The size, capacity, and budget of these units varied widely across regions, and some regions with a high prevalence of trafficking had few specialized officers. The government increased the number of specialized officers assigned to Madre de Dios and Cusco, regions considered to have high trafficking risks, from five in each region in 2020 to nine and 17, respectively, in 2021. The government did not assign specialized police to Amazonas. In December 2021, an Indigenous leader in the Amazonas region, known for his public advocacy denouncing local human traffickers and calling on the government to hold them criminally accountable, was murdered. Media reports alleged members of a local trafficking syndicate killed him in retaliation for his advocacy; the government did not make any arrests in this case during the reporting period. The government did not report its budget for specialized police units in 2021. The government did not enforce a ministerial resolution requiring anti-trafficking police to remain in their units for at least two years, and frequent turnover among police severely limited specialized units’ effectiveness in investigating trafficking. Local experts reported officers often transferred twice a year and the pandemic precipitated even faster changes in police assignments, resulting in a lack of institutional knowledge and continuity of operations. The government had 39 specialized anti-trafficking prosecutors across 12 regions of the country, with jurisdiction to prosecute cases under the penal code’s trafficking, forced labor, slavery, and sexual exploitation statutes. In partnership with an international organization, the government held several joint training workshops between police and prosecutors to improve coordination. NGOs and government officials reported judges often considered recruitment to be an essential element of a trafficking crime; required proof of force, fraud, or coercion for child sex trafficking crimes; or reduced trafficking charges to lesser crimes. In December 2021, the government adopted guidelines to improve the Public Ministry’s Institute for Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences’ ability to conduct forensic evaluations of trafficking victims. These guidelines aimed to strengthen forensic medical professionals’ ability to recognize and document psychological trauma and coercion among trafficking victims, leading to more robust prosecutions in court. The government continued partnering with an international organization to deliver in-depth training through certification programs for judges to improve their capacity to implement trafficking laws; 135 judges completed the certification in 2021. The government provided training on judicial resolutions related to trafficking for 132 criminal judges, with jurisdiction over trafficking and related crimes, and training in criminal law and criminal procedure code for specialized prosecutors in Lima. Although several ministries collected data to track their anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim protection efforts, the government lacked a coordinated data collection system, making it difficult for authorities to verify statistics, assess efforts, and respond to trends. Peru’s overlapping legal framework further complicated data collection efforts as authorities often charged trafficking cases as other offenses.

The government acknowledged that official complicity in trafficking crimes and corruption at all levels of the Peruvian law enforcement and criminal justice systems hampered efforts to hold traffickers accountable. Police officers, including members of specialized anti-trafficking units, allegedly accepted bribes from traffickers to avoid conducting investigations. The alleged complicity of some police, along with poor communication between police and prosecutors, bred mistrust among these officials at both the national and regional levels and undermined the effectiveness of anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The government opened several investigations of government employees for alleged trafficking crimes and continued investigating cases from previous years, but it did not prosecute or convict any officials for trafficking-related complicity in 2021. In November 2021, Bolivian authorities apprehended and extradited to Peru a former Peruvian police officer allegedly involved in two murders and sex trafficking crimes in Tacna; he remained in pretrial detention at the close of the reporting period. Media reports alleged approximately 40 police officers in Tacna and Moquegua led a sex trafficking operation in which one of the murder victims, a 14-year-old girl, had been exploited. Reports indicated authorities were investigating alleged trafficking crimes and police corruption related to this case but did not make additional arrests during the year. In a separate case in Tacna, authorities apprehended two police officers and an immigration official during a large-scale law enforcement operation against a cross-border smuggling network allegedly involved in human trafficking crimes; the officials remained in pretrial detention at the close of the reporting period. A 2020 case that included arrests of seven police officers for alleged involvement in a child sex trafficking operation run by a well-known singer remained ongoing. The government did not report progress on a 2020 case involving two anti-trafficking police officers and two other government officials apprehended for providing protection to alleged traffickers and allowing them to operate with impunity. It also did not report progress in the case of a former police chief and noncommissioned officer, arrested in 2019 for human trafficking and corruption. Prosecutors in Cusco cooperated with authorities in Argentina to achieve a labor trafficking conviction in a case involving a Peruvian citizen exploited in Argentina.

PROTECTION

The government maintained efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims, although services for some groups remained limited. Police reported identification of 428 potential victims in 2021, compared with 640 potential victims in 2020 and 1,054 in 2019. These victims included 261 women, 77 girls, 57 men, and 33 boys. The identification of adult male victims was noteworthy, as police did not identify any men exploited in trafficking in 2020. Police identified at least 54 women (49) and girls (5) from Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain who were exploited in trafficking in Peru. Specialized prosecutors identified 373 victims in 2021, compared with 470 in 2020 and 1,266 in 2019. The government did not report the extent to which victim identification statistics overlapped between police and prosecutors. Police received 68 complaints of alleged trafficking crimes to the government’s trafficking hotline during the first six months of 2021; the Ministry of Interior (MOI) reported the complaints included seven cases of alleged forced labor, 35 of alleged sex trafficking, and 26 where the type of exploitation was not specified. Two Peruvian victims of trafficking were identified in Ecuador and one in Chile; Peruvian officials provided support to these victims abroad and assisted with their repatriation to Peru.

The anti-trafficking law required the government to proactively identify victims among high-risk populations and provide services including temporary lodging, transportation, medical and psychological care, legal assistance, and reintegration support. The government had an intersectoral protocol for providing protection to trafficking victims, and multiple ministries had internal protocols for victim identification and care, but authorities implemented them unevenly due to insufficient financial and human resources and coordination challenges. Police and prosecutors did not effectively identify indicators of trafficking among women in commercial sex. With support from an international organization, Lima’s municipal public security forces developed standardized procedures for identifying and referring potential trafficking victims to services. 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. Authorities referred all child victims to the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations (MIMP), which coordinated shelter or family care and provided legal, social services, psychological, and limited reintegration assistance to victims. MIMP operated specialized units in all regions of the country for assisting children in need of special protection, including all child trafficking victims; in 2020, MIMP created new regional units, bringing the total to 26 across Peru. The government did not report the number of trafficking victims these units assisted or the number of victims referred to specialized shelters in 2021. In 2020, these units assisted 223 child victims (204 Peruvian, 15 Venezuelan, two Ecuadorian, and two Colombian), including 96 girls authorities referred to specialized trafficking victim shelters, and in 2019, the units assisted 130 child victims, including 114 girls authorities referred to specialized shelters. With support from an international organization, the Ministry of Health developed and approved new guidelines for providing comprehensive mental health care to child trafficking survivors.

The Public Ministry’s Victim and Witness Assistance Unit (UDAVIT) provided short-term care and essential supplies for victims immediately following some law enforcement operations and coordinated with other government agencies to provide medical, legal, and social services to victims. Insufficient funding and a lack of training on victim-centered methods limited UDAVIT’s capacity to provide consistent, high-quality care to victims, and NGO assistance was needed to supplement UDAVIT’s efforts. Local experts reported UDAVIT sometimes made services contingent on victims providing statements to investigators or questioned children without the presence of legal or social support personnel. In some regions, UDAVIT operated emergency spaces that could provide short- term accommodation to women and children who were participating in investigations and prosecutions.

MIMP operated seven specialized shelters exclusively for girls exploited in sex trafficking (including some whom authorities classified as sexual exploitation victims) in five regions (Cusco, Lima, Loreto, Madre de Dios, and Puno); in total, these facilities could accommodate 130 children. However, the government temporarily converted one facility into a shelter for victims of other crimes, decreasing the overall shelter capacity for child trafficking victims to approximately 120. Services and staffing in the shelters were generally robust, with the inclusion of a full-time attorney, medical personnel, and psychologist. Due to the pandemic, however, shelters restricted access to non-residents, which limited the in-person services available to victims. Shelter staff facilitated counseling sessions, legal services, and victims’ communication with families via phone or online platforms. In coordination with an NGO, the government provided several mentoring and training sessions for staff in specialized shelters. MIMP also 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 they were not equipped to provide specialized psychological and protection services to meet the needs of child trafficking survivors. Women could access legal, psychological, and social services—but not overnight accommodation—through MIMP’s nationwide network of 429 Emergency Centers for Women, but the government did not collect data on the number of trafficking victims the centers assisted. 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; there were no shelters that accepted adult men. A lack of services meeting the needs of adult victims, such as open shelter facilities or livelihood development support, led many adult victims to decline services. 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. 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. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a seminar on protection for national and foreign trafficking victims for staff posted in Peru and in more than 70 Peruvian foreign missions around the world. Government presence remained weak or absent in large parts of Peru where trafficking risks were high, including in the Loreto, Madre de Dios, and Puno regions, as well as the Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM), leaving victims with limited access to justice or protection.

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. Police and prosecutors reported many victim services were not available following law enforcement operations on nights and weekends. At times when shelters were not immediately available, 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. However, the government made meaningful efforts to incorporate trauma-informed and victim-centered principles into its policy and procedural documents and to seek training for its officials to improve their knowledge and response to providing victim care.

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. Law enforcement officials utilized secure Gesell chambers to conduct a single interview for sex trafficking victims. During the pandemic, authorities created a system to adapt the protection measures provided by Gesell chambers to online platforms, and officials used this system 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.

The 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 2021. The government reported assisting foreign trafficking victims in the removal of fines or other penalties they may have incurred from undocumented entry. However, due to inadequate victim identification procedures, particularly among individuals involved in commercial sex, authorities may have penalized some unidentified trafficking victims for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. 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.

PREVENTION

The government increased prevention efforts. The government’s multisectoral commission against trafficking, led by the MOI and composed of 13 government agencies and two NGOs, continued to coordinate the government’s anti-trafficking response, and it finalized the National Policy Against Human Trafficking and its Forms of Exploitation (2021-2030). The government adopted the national policy in July 2021, replacing its previous national action plan (NAP). Pandemic-mitigation measures, political instability, and insufficient funding continued to hamper implementation of anti-trafficking activities during the year. The government did not submit an annually mandated report to congress on its progress toward implementation of the NAP, due each September. However, the MOI launched an interactive website whereby members of the public could access detailed regional and sub-regional data on anti- trafficking efforts over the last five years, as well as recent government publications on trafficking. The government did not report the amount of funding it allocated to the MOI for anti-trafficking efforts in 2021. In 2020, the government allocated a line-item budget of 2.35 million soles ($592,090) to the MOI for anti-trafficking efforts, a significant decrease from approximately 4 million soles ($1.01 million) allocated in 2019, and other ministries funded anti-trafficking activities through their general budgets. All regional governments conducted some anti-trafficking activities, and the regions of Ayacucho, La Libertad, and Pasco each allocated a designated budget to anti-trafficking efforts. A 2019 law required the commission to prepare, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) to prioritize, a multisectoral budget request that included dedicated anti-trafficking budgets for member entities of the multisectoral commission; the commission submitted an updated request, which MEF did not approve. Officials reported inadequate funding hindered their ability to effectively combat human trafficking, especially victim protection efforts.

The government operated two 24-hour telephone hotlines and several electronic platforms for the public to report suspected cases of trafficking. The MOI expanded hotline services to accommodate Quechua speakers in addition to Spanish speakers. Several ministries held events and disseminated materials through digital and other media platforms to raise awareness of trafficking, educate members of the public on identifying and reporting possible trafficking crimes, and promote the new national policy. The MOI organized a virtual dialogue with regional government institutions designed to strengthen anti-trafficking efforts in the context of the pandemic, and it coordinated with civil society organizations to host a three-day forum on the pandemic’s impact on fulfillment of the previous NAP. The Ministry of the Environment conducted virtual awareness-raising activities to educate staff from affiliate agencies on the prevention of forced labor. The specialized prosecutors’ office in the Loreto region encouraged members of the public to tag its social media account on suspicious online job offers to help verify their legitimacy. Specialized police units implemented a campaign to educate members of the public on the experiences of forced child labor victims; the campaign aimed to reduce social tolerance and foster a culture of public reporting around suspected forced child labor crimes. Digital awareness campaigns were limited in reaching vulnerable remote communities without reliable internet connectivity.

The government maintained a separate governance infrastructure, led by the Ministry of Labor (MOL), on combating forced labor. The MOL conducted virtual awareness-raising sessions on forced labor for officials in 22 regional labor departments. The government required private employment agencies to train their personnel in the detection of job offers that could be linked to human trafficking, migrant smuggling, or child labor and prohibited them from charging workers recruitment fees or retaining workers’ identity documents or personal items. Labor inspectors had a mandate to monitor employment agencies for compliance, but they lacked adequate case management systems to effectively classify and refer suspected criminal cases to appropriate authorities. Due to the pandemic, the government conducted labor inspections virtually. The government maintained labor inspection units that specialized in forced and child labor, but it did not report whether these units identified any trafficking victims in 2021. The government partnered with an international organization to launch a program giving workers the ability to verify their employment registration status and confidentially report noncompliant employers to authorities, facilitating workers’ entry into the formal workforce. In total, the government formalized the status of 308,835 workers, decreasing the risks of exploitation inherent in the informal economy.

The government continued strong efforts to issue national identity documents to all Peruvian citizens, including through programs designed to reach remote, Indigenous communities where trafficking risks were high. In February 2022, the government opened its first bilingual civil registry office in Cusco, designed to further improve access to documentation for communities whose primary language is not Spanish. The government issued 112,000 temporary stay permits to migrants who entered Peru irregularly, and authorities continued to confer a special humanitarian immigration status for Venezuelan asylum applicants, decreasing these groups’ vulnerability to exploitation. The government did not permit transgender individuals to change their gender on identity documents; this lack of access to accurate documentation increased their vulnerability to exploitation. The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism, through its program to promote awareness and prevention of child sex tourism, hosted numerous educational sessions for tourism industry professionals, government officials, students, and members of the public; developed a prevention guide for tourism industry professionals; and created a poster campaign to raise awareness. In addition, the regional government and civil society organized awareness campaigns in Loreto to discourage child sex tourism. Authorities reported investigating suspected sex tourism operations in Loreto and Lima regions but did not provide additional details about possible cases. The government conducted law enforcement operations and made arrests for illegal mining and logging, crimes which fueled the demand for sex and labor trafficking.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Peru, and traffickers exploit victims from Peru abroad. Traffickers exploit Peruvian and foreign women and girls, and to a lesser extent boys, in sex trafficking within the country; traffickers increasingly recruit victims through social media platforms, often through false employment offers or deceptive romantic relationships. Traffickers lure Peruvian, Venezuelan, and Bolivian women and girls to remote communities near mining and logging operations through false promises of lucrative employment opportunities then exploit them in sex trafficking after arrival. Tourists from the United States and Europe purchase sex from child trafficking victims in areas such as Cusco, Lima, and the Peruvian Amazon. In the Loreto region, criminal groups facilitate transportation of foreign tourists by boat to remote locations where traffickers exploit women and children in sex trafficking in venues on the Amazon River. Pandemic-related travel restrictions halted most tourism to Peru in 2021; while the lack of tourism may have decreased some forms of trafficking, local NGOs report other forms of exploitation increased as traffickers shifted operations online. Traffickers exploit Peruvian and foreign adults and children in forced labor in the country, principally in illegal and legal gold mining and related activities, logging, agriculture, brick-making, unregistered factories, counterfeit operations, organized street begging, and domestic service. Traffickers subject Peruvians to forced labor in gold mines and service jobs in nearby makeshift camps; traffickers compel victims through deceptive recruitment, debt-based coercion, isolation and restricted freedom of movement, withholding of or non-payment of wages, and threats and use of physical violence. Traffickers subject children to forced labor in begging, street vending, domestic service, cocaine production and transportation, and other criminal activities. Local observers report the isolation and quarantine measures imposed to curb the pandemic brought greater public attention to abusive working conditions in domestic service. Remaining members of the narcoterrorist organization Shining Path use force and coercion to subject children and adults to forced labor in agriculture, cultivating or transporting illicit narcotics, and domestic servitude, as well as to carry out terrorist activities, and at times recruit children using force and coercion to serve as combatants or guards.

Indigenous Peruvians, many of whom live in remote areas with limited access to government services, are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. LGBTQI+ Peruvians are vulnerable to trafficking, including re-exploitation. Transgender individuals are at particularly high risk, and traffickers seek to exploit their need to finance gender-affirming medical care. Venezuelan migrants and refugees fleeing the humanitarian crisis in their country continued to enter Peru, with more than 1.32 million Venezuelans residing in Peru under permanent, temporary, or irregular migration status by the end of 2021. Venezuelan adults and children are vulnerable to sex and labor trafficking en route to or after arrival in Peru, often lured into exploitation through false employment offers.

Pandemic-mitigation measures increased risks among children who did not attend school in person during the year, especially LGBTQI+ children or others who ultimately fled abusive or difficult situations in their homes. Local experts report an increase in online sexual exploitation of children, in which traffickers sexually exploit children in live internet broadcasts in exchange for compensation. Illicit activity, including sex and labor trafficking, is common in regions of the country with limited permanent government presence, including remote mining and logging areas and the VRAEM. Illegal mining and logging operations fuel the demand for sex and labor trafficking in Peru.

Traffickers exploit Peruvian women and children in sex trafficking in other countries, particularly within South America. Also, they exploit women and girls from neighboring countries in Peru. NGOs and foreign authorities report traffickers exploit transgender Peruvians in sex trafficking in Argentina, Italy, and Sweden. Traffickers subject Peruvian adults and children to forced labor in other South American countries, the United States, and other countries. An NGO reported the increasing prevalence of human trafficking of children and young adults near Peru’s border with Ecuador. NGOs and government officials reported that official complicity in trafficking crimes and widespread corruption in Peruvian law enforcement and judicial systems continue to hamper anti-trafficking efforts.

U.S. Department of State

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