[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

CHILE (TIER 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Chile is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and labor trafficking. Within the country, many victims are Chilean women and girls who respond to false job offers and subsequently are subjected to forced prostitution. Chilean women and girls also are trafficked for involuntary prostitution and labor exploitation to neighboring countries such as Argentina, Peru, and Bolivia, as well as Western Europe. Foreign women from Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Paraguay, in addition to Asian countries such as China, are lured to Chile with fraudulent job offers and subsequently coerced into prostitution or domestic servitude. Foreign victims of labor trafficking, primarily from Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and China, have been identified in Chile’s mining and agricultural sectors. Trafficking victims, including children, are lured to Chile with false promises of pay and benefits. Some Chinese nationals are consensually smuggled through Chile en route to Mexico, Brazil, and the United States; some fall victim to human trafficking.

The Government of Chile does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Last year, the government maintained law enforcement, protection, and prevention efforts to combat human trafficking. Chilean authorities, however, reported difficulties with prosecuting certain trafficking crimes – particularly allegations of labor trafficking and the internal trafficking of adults -- due to statutory gaps in Chile’s anti-trafficking laws, in addition to overcoming challenges with securing stringent punishments against trafficking offenders.

Recommendations for Chile: Enact anti-trafficking legislation to prohibit all forms of human trafficking; intensify law enforcement efforts against trafficking offenders, especially labor trafficking offenders; and continue to strengthen victim protection efforts, particularly for foreign trafficking victims.

The Government of Chile maintained law enforcement efforts against traffickers during the reporting period. Chilean law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking, though it criminalizes transnational movement of persons for commercial sexual exploitation through Article 367 of its penal code. Penalties prescribed under this statute range from three to 20 years of imprisonment, depending on whether aggravated circumstances exist. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and are commensurate with those for other grave crimes, such as rape. In practice, however, because sentences of less than five years are often suspended in Chile, and the minimum penalty for rape is five years and a day, individuals convicted of rape typically receive jail time whereas trafficking offenders often do not. The government’s anti-trafficking statutory framework does not criminalize labor trafficking or the internal trafficking of adults; law enforcement officials report difficulties with investigating and prosecuting these allegations. Anti-trafficking legislation, originally proposed in 2002, passed the Senate in June 2008, and is now being reviewed by the Senate’s Human Rights and Constitutional Commissions. Between April and December 2008, the government opened 104 trafficking-related investigations, and obtained 10 convictions with sentences ranging from fines to 30 months’ imprisonment. Two convictions involved the fraudulent recruitment of Chilean women into prostitution in Spain. In 2008, the government increased anti-trafficking training, and the public prosecutor’s office held an international summit in Santiago to promote international cooperation on anti-trafficking law enforcement. There were no reports of government complicity with trafficking activity.

The Chilean government maintained efforts to assist trafficking victims over the last year. The government provides child victims of sex trafficking with specialized services, and furnished nearly $2 million in such assistance at 14 centers nationwide last year. These non-residential centers had capacity to assist 684 children and adolescents, and they referred victims to NGO shelters when necessary. For adults, the government operated a witness protection program which assisted sex trafficking victims, in addition to victims of other abuses and violent crime. Adult trafficking victims are referred to NGOs and shelters, where they can receive medical care, psychological counseling, and support. Police are trained to utilize victim-sensitive interviewing techniques such as two-way mirrors so victims can identify a suspected exploiter without fear of retribution, and video-recording equipment to minimize multiple victim interviews. Chilean authorities encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers. Foreign sex trafficking victims may remain in Chile during legal proceedings against their exploiters, and can later apply for residency status. These victims may still face deportation to their country of origin once legal proceedings are finished, if they are not granted residency status. The government does not have a formal system of identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations, such as prostituted women. Foreign labor trafficking victims usually are not identified as trafficking victims or provided with assistance before being deported. The government provides funding to anti-trafficking NGOs, and works with foreign governments and IOM to ensure the safe repatriation of victims.

The government increased prevention efforts during the reporting period by conducting anti-trafficking education and outreach campaigns through a variety of media. The government also continued awareness-raising projects with NGOs and international organizations. Through law enforcement efforts targeting “clients” of child prostitution, the government endeavored to reduce demand for commercial sex acts, convicting and sentencing five defendants for purchasing sex with a minor. The government also conducted a public awareness campaign, called “There is No Excuse,” warning how commercial sex with a minor is a crime in Chile. Chilean troops departing for international peacekeeping duties attended mandatory pre-deployment training on trafficking in persons and human rights. The government made no discernable efforts, however, to prevent labor trafficking.