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 investigating and prosecuting more traffickers, convicting a former public university official for sex trafficking crimes, and increasing training for law enforcement officials.  The government also increased reintegration services for older child and young adult victims.  However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas.  Courts convicted fewer traffickers.  Services for adult victims, boys, LGBTQI+ individuals, and labor trafficking victims remained inadequate.  Government funding for anti-trafficking efforts remained inadequate, hindering implementation of its national policy to combat the crime.

  • Increase funding to implement the National Policy Against Trafficking and allocate dedicated anti-trafficking budgets for member entities of the national multisectoral commission, as required by law. 
  • Increase funding for victim protection, including 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. 
  • Increase efforts to prosecute both sex and labor trafficking crimes, convict and punish traffickers, including complicit officials, and seek adequate sentences for convicted traffickers, which should include significant prison terms. 
  • Strengthen and institutionalize training for criminal justice officials on enforcing anti-trafficking laws, employing victim-centered, trauma-informed procedures, and awarding compensation to victims. 
  • Strengthen interagency cooperation to ensure law enforcement operations include arrangements for prompt transition to care and shelter for identified victims, and contingency planning to avoid holding victims in police stations. 
  • 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 proactively identify trafficking victims – particularly among vulnerable populations, such as working children, individuals in commercial sex, and displaced Venezuelans – and refer potential victims to comprehensive protection services. 
  • 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.

The government slightly increased prosecution efforts, but did not report complete data on its efforts.  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 years old, and a minimum of 25 years’ imprisonment for offenses involving victims younger than the age of 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 ten 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.

Political instability intensified in December 2022, following the impeachment, arrest, and pre-trial detention of Peru’s then-president.  Turnover in political and technical positions within government agencies accelerated, severely limiting the government’s capacity to provide complete data on its anti-trafficking law enforcement and victim protection efforts.  Beginning in December 2022, the government directed police, including anti-trafficking units, to enforce state of emergency and public safety measures amid widespread public unrest in Lima and southern Peru.  Anti-trafficking police did not report data on the number of law enforcement operations conducted or individuals detained in 2022.

Specialized prosecutors reported opening investigations in 813 cases in 2022 – 298 involving sex trafficking, 194 involving labor trafficking, and 321 involving unspecified forms of trafficking.  In comparison, specialized prosecutors reported opening 354 trafficking investigations in 2021 – 336 for sex trafficking and 18 for labor trafficking.  In 2022, authorities initiated prosecutions in 103 cases of trafficking and related crimes – 58 for sex trafficking, 17 for labor trafficking, and 28 for unspecified forms of trafficking.  Authorities continued prosecutions in 45 cases ongoing from previous years – 24 for sex trafficking, 13 for labor trafficking, and eight for unspecified forms of trafficking.  The government reported prosecuting a total of 241 defendants in both new and ongoing cases.  Courts convicted 89 defendants for trafficking and related crimes in 2022, including 61 for sex trafficking, 21 for labor trafficking, and seven for unspecified forms of trafficking.  Courts acquitted 71 defendants in 2022.  In comparison, authorities prosecuted 121 suspects in newly-opened cases and courts convicted 233 defendants for trafficking and related crimes in 2021.  In 2020, authorities prosecuted at least 44 suspects and convicted 29 traffickers, though this data may have been incomplete.

The government maintained specialized anti-trafficking police units in each of Peru’s 24 regions.  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 did not report its budget for specialized police units in 2022.  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 political instability throughout 2022 precipitated even faster changes in police assignments, resulting in a lack of institutional knowledge and continuity of operations.  The government expanded the coverage of its specialized anti-trafficking prosecutors from 12 regions to 14; these officials had jurisdiction to prosecute cases under the penal code’s trafficking, forced labor, slavery, and sexual exploitation statutes.  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.  The national police training school conducted two anti-trafficking training courses for officers, one lasting six weeks and a more specialized course lasting four months.  In partnership with an international organization, the government held a joint training course on the criminal investigation of labor trafficking for police, prosecutors, and labor inspectors from Loreto.  With support from international organizations and NGO partners, the government organized additional trainings and workshops for specialized prosecutors covering key topics such as best practices on complex cases and criteria for consistent interpretation and implementation of the law.  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; 60 judges and public attorneys completed the certification in 2022.  The Public Ministry’s Institute for Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences implemented guidelines for conducing forensic evaluations of trafficking victims, aimed at building its capacity to recognize, document, and introduce into court evidence of psychological trauma and coercion among trafficking victims.

The government acknowledged 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.   In October 2022, media reported two guards at a prison in Huacho facilitated inmates’ exploitation of sex trafficking victims, including children.  The government detained eight suspects in connection with this case, including the two guards.  In November 2022, a court sentenced a former public university dean in Ucayali to 17 years’ imprisonment for child trafficking crimes, in a case that began in 2016.  The government did not provide updates on the numerous investigations of government employees for alleged trafficking crimes opened in previous years, including the following: a November 2021 case in which Bolivian authorities apprehended and extradited to Peru a former Peruvian police officer allegedly involved in two murders and sex trafficking crimes in Tacna; the alleged involvement of 40 police officers in Tacna and Moquegua in sex trafficking crimes related to this case; a separate case in Tacna involving two police officers and an immigration official allegedly involved in cross-border trafficking crimes; and 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.  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.

The government decreased efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims but did not report complete data on its efforts.  Police and prosecutors did not report the number of victims authorities identified in 2022.  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.  Regional authorities in Cusco drafted new guidelines for health officials and law enforcement officers to recognize a broader set of indicators of potential trafficking among the populations they served.  Law enforcement officials screened for victims during anti-trafficking operations but made uneven efforts to identify trafficking victims during other enforcement activities.  Non-specialized police and prosecutors did not effectively identify indicators of trafficking among women in commercial sex.

The government offered specialized services for girls exploited in sex trafficking, while other victims could access services for victims of GBV 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.  The government reported these units assisted 113 child victims in 2022; these victims included 80 girls and two boys exploited in sex trafficking and 29 girls and two boys exploited in labor trafficking.  Thirty-nine sex trafficking victims and 23 labor trafficking victims were Peruvian, while 43 sex trafficking victims and eight labor trafficking victims were nationals of other countries.  The government did not report the number of trafficking victims MIMP’s protection 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.

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 maintained a temporary conversion of 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.  The Ministry of Health began implementing guidelines, approved in the previous reporting period, for providing comprehensive mental health care to child trafficking survivors.  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 MIMP did not equip them 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.

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.  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; the government did not report whether it provided this service to trafficking victims in 2022.

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 observed children and young adult victims faced administrative hurdles when seeking to re-enroll in school, and school officials lacked the expertise to properly meet the needs of young survivors.  To address these shortcomings, the government launched a new initiative to increase reintegration and alternative livelihood support for young survivors, 14 to 19 years old, transitioning out of shelter care.  In partnership with an international organization, MIMP, the Ministry of Labor (MOL), and local governments developed a methodology for assessing market demand, training survivors on entrepreneurship skills, and facilitating connections with private sector employers.  Government employees certified in the methodology trained 68 trafficking survivors who developed their own business plans.  The government organized two entrepreneurship fairs for survivors to present their plans and connect with private employers.  The government also provided training for 20 social workers to become certified financial education trainers, who subsequently began providing this training to survivors and at-risk persons.  The government provided limited access to services for LGBTQI+ victims 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 assisted any foreign victims in government shelters.  The government made strong efforts to maintain specialized law enforcement units and provide victims with access to specialized shelters in regions where trafficking risks were high, including Loreto, Madre de Dios, and Puno.

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.  Non-specialized criminal justice officials, however, sometimes did not employ victim-centered methods.  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.

The government assigned victims a public attorney 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.  The government did not report the number of victims that received legal assistance.  Law enforcement officials utilized secure Gesell chambers to conduct a single interview for sex trafficking victims, and prosecutors could use a transcript of this interview in place of oral testimony in court.  LGBTQI+ individuals experienced discrimination from law enforcement and were often re-victimized during the criminal justice process.  Officials cited the lack of adequate funding for protective services as a key impediment to their ability to effectively combat trafficking, and insufficient services left some groups at high risk of re-trafficking.

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.  In practice, individual judges applied widely varying criteria when assessing damages.  The government reported courts ordered compensation for some victims in 2022 but did not provide further detail.   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, authorities may have penalized some unidentified trafficking victims.  Foreign victims were eligible for temporary and permanent residency status under Peruvian refugee law; however, an NGO reported a 2022 case in which authorities did not provide a Venezuelan trafficking victim with an alternative to deportation, despite her expressed safety concerns.  The government did not report whether it granted any trafficking victims residency during the year.

The government maintained prevention efforts.  The government’s multisectoral commission against trafficking, led by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and comprised of 13 government agencies and two NGOs, continued to coordinate the government’s anti-trafficking response and lead implementation of the National Policy Against Human Trafficking and its Forms of Exploitation (2021-2030).  Political instability, and the resultant frequent turnover in leadership positions within key agencies, hampered implementation of anti-trafficking activities during the year.  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 and separate agencies often classified cases differently from one another.  The Attorney General’s Office published its fifth annual report analyzing its anti-trafficking efforts.  The Lima municipal government issued a report on trafficking in metropolitan Lima.

The government did not report the amount of funding it allocated to the MOI for anti-trafficking efforts in 2021 and other ministries funded anti-trafficking activities through their general budgets.  All regional governments conducted some anti-trafficking activities, often with in-kind contributions.  Local experts reported government funding for anti-trafficking activities was insufficient, and the lack of a line-item budget made it difficult for officials to secure the necessary funds to implement the national policy.  A 2019 law required the multisectoral commission to prepare, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) to prioritize, a multisectoral budget request detailing dedicated anti-trafficking budgets for member entities of the multisectoral commission; the commission has submitted such requests, but MEF did not approve them.  Officials reported inadequate funding hindered their ability to effectively combat human trafficking, especially victim protection efforts.

The government operated two 24-hour telephone hotlines, with services in Spanish and Quechua, and several electronic platforms for the public to report suspected cases of trafficking.  The government reported initiating trafficking investigations and identifying victims from calls to the telephone hotlines but did not provide details of the calls.  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 national policy.  Digital awareness campaigns were limited in reaching vulnerable remote communities without reliable internet connectivity.  The government maintained a separate governance infrastructure, led by the MOL, on combating forced labor.  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.  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 2022.

In February 2023, the government enacted a law penalizing those who rent housing to undocumented migrants, which could increase irregular migrants’ vulnerability to homelessness and trafficking in Peru.  In March 2023, the government passed a temporary amnesty law waiving overstay fines already accrued by migrants with expired residency documents and granting a 180-day reprieve for migrants to regularize their status without accruing new debt.  The law erased an estimated $5 million in unpaid fines among approximately 430,000 Venezuelan migrants, decreasing trafficking risks among this vulnerable population.  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 and hindered access to protection services.  The Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism amended regulations for tourism-related businesses to prescribe new penalties on such businesses for a failure to prevent, identify, or report human trafficking crimes.  The Loreto regional government organized awareness campaigns to discourage the purchase of commercial sex acts and child sex tourism.  Authorities reported conducting law enforcement operations against individuals who purchased sex acts from trafficking victims but did not provide additional detail about possible cases.

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 exploit children in sex trafficking 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.  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.  Tren de Aragua, a transnational criminal gang originating in Venezuela, exploits victims – primarily Venezuelan women and children – in trafficking in Peru.  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 home country continued to enter Peru, with more than 1.5 million Venezuelans residing in Peru under permanent, temporary, or irregular migration status at the end of 2022.  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.  Cuban nationals working in Peru may have been forced to work by the Cuban government.  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 Valley of the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (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.  They also 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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